Soon I’ll be flying – Skywatch Friday

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It was a perfect Sunday afternoon in early March. I was standing in a small dirt parking lot next to the farm. The parking area is often used for a riding area so there was dried horse poo all over. At least I wore my old already cruddy hiking shoes. It was late in the day and I think I missed the late meal but the baby eagles were active. Junior was flapping his wings several times. He was just starting to get lift off, practicing for that big day when he finally takes off. It wasn’t this afternoon. I think it was still a little early and he had a little more practicing to do. One parent took off and Junior was screaming “Wait for me.” The parent circled several times and then landed again. Maybe he was showing Junior how it’s done. I haven’t been back since this day. I’m sure by now both kids are flying around even though they may hang out in the area for a while. I stayed for several hours and then it was time to go home and cook dinner. I felt like I was covered head to toe in dried horse poo powder so a long shower was taken before dinner.

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A sad circle of life.

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I had read that there was a new sandhill crane family at Circle B Bar Reserve. As soon as Pam and I walked out on the trail, we saw them slowly making their way towards us. The little babies were so cute. One was much younger than the other. Maybe by a few days.

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The smaller one was all wet. They must have been in the marsh.

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He looked tired and plopped down for a rest while the parents and older sibling were looking for food. Pam said “I wonder if there’s anything wrong with him. He looks bad.” I didn’t think anything of it. Maybe he was just tired since he was younger.

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The oldest sibling stayed close the parent and was getting fed a few bugs.

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They looks so funny, all wet.

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The parents started cruising down the trail and closer into the marsh. I started taking pictures of a flock of vultures close by that were eating a turtle.

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I looked over a few minutes later and noticed both babies were down in marsh and it looked like they were playing. The above and below were extremely cropped.

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After a while we realized the older baby was hitting the younger one on the head with his beak. He was pulling out fuzz.  At that point we realized that the older one was attacking the younger one. We stood there at a loss of what to do. We took a few steps closer into the marsh but the parents came towards us and seemed to be guarding what was going on down there. Do we risk getting eaten by an alligator or poked in the head by a parent sandhill crane? The parents were watching us and would move towards us if we moved towards the babies. The family started to move on and we thought maybe the little one would be okay, maybe the older one was just play fighting a little too hard.

We headed down the trail and a few hours later, we stopped by that same area and the entire family was gone. We thought they must have kept going and that the baby was okay. Later that night I had read on the Circle B Bar Facebook group that someone had seen the little one alone on the trail. The parents and older sibling had eventually left him behind. A ranger was called and she rescued the baby and took it to a bird rehab facility. The baby did not survive. Apparently this is common in sandhill crane families like it is in other birds such as eagles and hawks. I have seen a mother snowy egret drop the youngest of her 3 babies into the alligator pond at Gatorland so I shouldn’t be shocked but it is still sad.

If you need some cheering up after that, check out Jess’s blog. She was recently able to get pictures of a sandhill crane coming out of the egg. So cute!

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A spring migration tease in late March.

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My first sighting of the morning was a black and white warbler.

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Then a hooded warbler.

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Then a yellow rumpled warbler. These have been around most of the winter.

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A barn swallow sitting still. I’ve never seen one sitting still before.

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Another hooded warbler landing right beside me on the ground.

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Another black and white warbler later in the morning.

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These birds are so funny they way they hang upside down most of the time.

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I only saw one yellow throat warbler that morning.

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Another hooded warbler?  The trees were dripping with them and they were not being shy.

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One last parting hooded shot before heading home.

I think this day was “Hooded Warbler Day” at Fort Desoto. They were everywhere at the park in late March. There wasn’t much of a variety though. Just tons of the above. I had heard there was a worm eating warbler there as well but I could not find him. It would have been a first for me. I’m hoping this was just the beginning of spring migration and it doesn’t fizzle out. If the winds are favorable for the birds through April, they will just keep flying right past us without stopping for a snack.

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It finally looked like spring at Fort Desoto

 

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I didn’t want to rub it in too soon but spring hit down here in Florida a while ago. The end of March and into April was beautiful and 75 degrees. It’s short-lived though. Now it’s just hot. In late March, the yellow daisies were everywhere at Fort Desoto park.

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Bees were buzzing around.

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Spiders were popping up on all of the trails.

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Even the wild parrots were enjoying the weather, snacking on the pine trees.

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This one was trying to take an early morning nap.

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At one point a small flock flew down and started feeding on something. I totally blew this shot out. I had my camera set to take pictures in the trees which is usually darker. I snapped this quickly but they took off again before I could reset and re-shoot.

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“Would you eat this lady?” says the juvenile herring gull.

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On osprey was eating a fish right on a branch over the trail. He was doing his “Don’t steal my fish” flap. I walked by pretending that I didn’t care. After yelling a few times he calmed down.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in late March. It felt like it had been a long time since the sun was out. The park was busy with bugs and birds but spring migration hadn’t started yet so I spent the morning looking for stuff to shoot. I did notice how parts of the park were covered in yellow daisies and the grass was growing up over the trails. Yes, we only had spring for about two weeks and then went right into summer.

Shine the Divine

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Floating around the pier

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Most days you can find cormorants diving for fish around the fishing pier.

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I realized when I cropped this up, it was not a good sign. He must have stolen this fish from someone’s fishing line. I’m not sure if he swallowed the hook and bait.

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This one was busy. He caught 3 fish in a matter of minutes.

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A lone red breasted merganser floating close to the pier.

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After preening, she was showing off.

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Here’s something I’ve never seen before. A common loon already in his summer colors. This bird is a drab gray during the winter and I occasionally see them floating around piers. The common loon is the Minnesota state bird and this is how they usually see them. They look so much prettier here.

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Catching fish.

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Above is how we usually see the common loon in the winter. I took this last winter. They are usually all gray except for those red eyes.

I thought it was going to be a quiet morning at Fort Desoto but seeing the common loon in his black and white feathers was different. All dressed up and ready to go. This was in mid-March so he was molting early. He was probably on his way back home to Minnesota and decided since it was still snowing up there to stay here in sunny Florida a little longer. I would too.

Linking up to Saturday’s Critters

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Windy morning at the fishing pier – Skywatch Friday

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The usual pelican fly by.

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“What, I can’t hear you.” says the cormorant.

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A sad but usual sight at the pier. There were a few people standing around discussing what to do about trying to rescue him when he took off flying across the bay. They might have been able to entice him with bait fish and use a net.

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Grumpy face did not seem to like the wind.

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“I can’t hear you either.” says the snowy egret.

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Off to the great blue yonder!

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Rush hour on the bay.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning but so windy it was hard to stand up. Sand was blowing, garbage was flying around and the birds were not going anywhere. Fort Desoto was deserted. Where do all of the birds go when it’s that windy? I guess inland to get out of the sea wind. I didn’t stay long. I was afraid sand was getting into everything, even on the fishing pier.

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Reddish egret doing a dance.

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I see these guys on a regular basis on my trips to Fort Desoto. I hadn’t really stopped for a while and watched them. It was a quiet morning in mid-March when the beaches were deserted. It was really windy so the shorebirds were hunkered down somewhere out of the wind. One of the reddish egrets started feeding so I sat down and watched him do his funny feeding dance. He went on for a while until he got tired and stopped feeding and started preening. Soon they may be scarce if they start to nest. Last year one of the bird stewards told me they nest over on Egmont Key which is only accessible by boat.

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