One last look at skimmers for the summer

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Soon the black skimmers will be hard to find for the winter. These were all taken back in late July at Fort Desoto. They were hanging around the beach near the fishing pier.

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They look so graceful when they are skimming.

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Scratching an itch.

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Taking a bath.

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Splashing around.

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Drying off.

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Showing off for the laughing gull. “My wings are bigger than yours.”

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Out on the water trying to scoop up some bait fish.

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They were all busy skimming for fish.

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I was standing on the pier taking these pictures and a guy asked me what kind of birds these were. I said “They were skimmers.” He said “Why do they call them skimmers.” I politely explained that they skim the top of the water for fish but really, do they need an explanation if you see them in action?

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Looking for migrants

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I started the morning out at Sawgrass Lake park. I had heard there were different warblers moving through there on their way south for the winter. When I got to the parking lot, there were already several other birders there looking high up in the trees with binoculars. There were a few tiny birds up there but getting a picture was almost impossible. They were high up in the tops of the trees and didn’t sit still for a minute. I was pretty excited to get the above but then realized it was a just a blue-gray gnatcatcher. Oh well.

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I think everyone was saying this was a blackburnian warbler. Not a first for me but not very common. Most of my shots were turning out this way. Blurry shots of a bird partial behind leaves. We get so spoiled at Fort Desoto in the spring. The birds come down within eye level and will stay in place eating for a few seconds.

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I saw this juvenile red bellied woodpecker. He was just starting to get his red feathers.

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There were a few butterflies close by.

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I left Sawgrass Lake Park and stopped by Crescent Lake Park. The first thing I saw was this hawk flying into the tree. He seemed to stalking the ibis. I can’t tell whether this is a juvenile red shoulder hawk or a cooper’s hawk.

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The palm trees around the lake had these orange spikes growing out.

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Most of the geese were across the street sleeping in someone’s yard.

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This one was checking me out. Probably hoping I had food.

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I guess the neighbors are used to having their yard full of goose poop.

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The same hawk kept flying around the trees. He would swoop down close the ibis but I never saw him catch anything. I think he needs to stick to lizards and squirrels.

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Berries on an old tree.

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This is all one big banyan tree (taken with my phone since I didn’t have my wide-angle lens). It’s fenced off to protect it from people trying to climb it. It’s about to fall apart. I think this is the largest one I’ve seen in the Tampa Bay area. There’s a big one in Sarasota on the Ringling Museum grounds as well. The largest banyan tree in Florida is in Fort Myers in the yard of Thomas Edison’s house. It was brought over from India where banyan trees are originally from and planted in 1925. The one above is pretty amazing. I would love to have that shade over my house. The branches facing the lake were full of ibis napping.

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On the side of the road

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I had heard there were a few avocets in a field near Cockroach Bay. Since I still haven’t seen these birds, I figured I would drive the almost hour trip to try to find them. The field was covered with thousands of birds. There was only access to view the field on one side which faces directly into the sun. The rest of the field was fenced off. I looked for an hour and did not find the avocets. Most of the birds were least terns with a few sanderlings, plovers and starlings thrown in. Oh well, maybe one day.

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I did see a belted kingfisher flying over a lake off in the distance.

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This guy was sitting on the side of the road. I’m not sure if he was checking out a snack. He eventually flew off. I think this is a juvenile red shoulder hawk.

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I was leaving the area to head back to town and saw a pair of sandhill cranes on the side of the road. Of course, I pull over and snapped a few pictures.

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I love their “heart” heads.

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Cows were chewing near the side of the road. I pulled off hoping to get the “cattle egret sitting on the back of the cow” shot. Not this time.

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Another cow got curious and came close to the fence. He started to creep me out a little and I was going to jump back in my car but he turned around.

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A brown cow farther back looked up with grass hanging out of his mouth.

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#47 also had grass hanging out of his mouth.

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You know it’s a slow day when I get excited about taking pictures of cows.

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Heading home, I had to drive back over the Sunshine Skyway bridge. A quick stop at the rest area and I was home in less than an hour.

Linking up to Saturday’s Critters

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On the fishing pier – Skywatch Friday

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Snowy egrets waiting for snacks.

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Fighting over rail space.

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Too many birds in one place.

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Someone had left a pile of bait fish on the pier. The birds were going crazy.

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They were all fighting over the free meal.

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Someone walked over to the bait fish and started to pick them up. The birds weren’t too happy.

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A cute plane flew overhead.

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Snowy egret cruising the water.

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A young boy was holding this fish in his left hand while playing a game on his phone with his right hand. Multitasking on the pier!

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Another sad sighting. A lady on the pier was trying to get him to come down by waving a bait fish at him so she could take the hook out. At first he ignored her and then flew off.

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Right before lunch, the  moon was still out at the end of the pier.

There was a nice breeze  up on the fishing pier at Fort Desoto in the middle of September. Beautiful sunny day.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

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Sandwich terns and laughing gulls at the beach

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More drama from the juvenile sandwich terns. This time it was at Fort Desoto Park. The adult on the right was looking at me like “Lady, help me out here.”

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“I will not be ignored.”

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“Will anyone feed me?”

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There were several young ones screaming for fish.

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Laughing gulls and sandwich terns were sharing the beach.

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This juvenile laughing gull found a dead fish on the beach. He picked at it for a few minutes but ended up leaving it on the beach.

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Laughing gulls were also plucking the bait fish right off the top of the water.

Another perfect morning walk at Fort Desoto Park.

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Growing up muscovy

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When I first got to Crescent Lake Park, I saw the muscovy babies hiding under a bench.

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Later on, after my lap around the lake, I saw the family walking around.

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The babies were sticking close to the parents.

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Another adult came walking by and was causing trouble. It seemed like he didn’t want the family near his corner of the park.

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The parents closed in on the babies.

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They were yelling at the other muscovy duck to stay back.

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They start off so cute. Look how pretty that yellow ring around his eye is. He is already starting to get the weird pattern near his beak.

Eventually the family moved on and kept walking around the park.

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Birds and bees at Chesnut Park

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Some type of warbler. My first fall migration bird and I can’t tell what this is. I didn’t get a good shot of his back feathers. Any ideas?

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Another view. This was the only tiny bird I saw that morning in early September.

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A red shoulder hawk eyeing something in the grass.

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A few butterflies are still around.

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Anhinga posing for me.

 

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Typical bee on flower.

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I was driving home from the park and took the long way through a neighborhood near too far from my house to see if the eagles had come back for the winter. I had heard some of the eagles from other parks were already back. I looked over at a small pond and saw 4 kildeer in the grass. Of course I pulled over and took a couple of shots from the window. They seemed very skittish so I didn’t get out.

Shine the Divine

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Beauties, beasts and Bambi

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Cool dog at the park. Beauty or beast?  You decide.

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Eyes peeking out.

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Upside down.

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Bambi near the parking lot.

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This Bambi’s mom lives.

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Crossing the road.

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Watching me.

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Looking for mom.

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Tiny one swimming by.

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The spider was eating a bee.

After walking around Chesnut Park for two hours, I was thinking I was not going to have a deer sighting on this trip. I was almost out of the park when something caught my eye. I turned around and pulled off on the grass. I got out for a few minutes and watch a mom and her baby walking by. Perfect ending to a hot morning.

Linking to Saturday’s Critters

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Storms coming to Fort Desoto – Skywatch Friday

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Up at the north beach lagoon, he was trying to get bait fish.

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With no success in the lagoon, he went over to the gulf. I never did see him catch anything. I don’t know if his form is bad or not.

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Sea oats into the sun.

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Trying to nap before the tourists hit the beach.

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A manatee was swimming by the fishing pier.

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Skimmers were still grabbing the bait fish in the water.

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Jim was walking around the snack shop to try to get a better angle on the storm coming in.

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Clouds were moving in. At least the wind was cooling things off.

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Storm across the water.

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Up in the sky.

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Looking back from the end of the fishing pier. The storm was coming in from the right.

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The tide was low and the threat of rain kept the beach empty (well, almost empty).

My morning in late August started out sunny. The two days before were stormy so I thought I would have been rained out. I headed out anyway thinking I could work on my storm shots if it rained. The clouds started rolling in right before lunch. The beach cleared out after a few sprinkles hit. It only sprinkled for a few minutes at first so I continued to walk around. I could see the heavy rain heading right for the pier so I headed back to my car just before the bottom fell out. Not many birds out but also not a lot of people so it was just nice to be out for the morning.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

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Non flying things at Fort Desoto

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I was standing out on the north beach tip and these guys went swimming by.

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At one point I counted 4 coming up for air at one time but I think there were more.

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This one had a notch on his fin.

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The South’s Finest. Across the channel they were camping out.

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Big glop of something. Some type of jellyfish? These were all over the beach this morning.

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“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” A line from one of my favorite movies, Finding Nemo. Someone was pulling up bait fish.

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A view of the dog beach from the bay fishing pier. Dog day afternoons.

There’s always something to see at Fort Desoto Park.

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