Early spring migration at Fort Desoto

It was a beautiful morning when I got to Fort Desoto Park in early April. I stopped by the East Beach turnaround to get a shot of the sun coming up over the bay. I had high hopes for seeing some migrating birds that has stopped by but it was still a little too early for spring migration. Last April we had a really slow migration with hardly any birds stopping by so I’m hoping we don’t have a repeat.

A pileated woodpecker was the first bird I saw, high up in a tree.

A hooded warbler and a black and white warbler with a snack. Normally I would be excited but I had  just seen both of these in my backyard.

There were at least 3 prothonotary warblers in a big bush in front of the water fountain being very cooperative. It was the only other migrating bird we saw that morning. There were a lot of people out looking. Again, it was still early in the month.

An opsrey was eating a fish in the tree behind the prothonotary warbler. I had to take a shot before heading to the gulf fishing pier for a quick walk before heading home.

I got to the fishing pier and saw the reddish egret that has the white wings fly by.

There were a lot of birds at the little beach next to the fishing pier. The usual gulls, terns and oystercatchers.  But there was something else that looked different.

A rare kittiwake was sitting there with the other birds. After a while I realized a ton of people were at the pier taking pictures of him as well. This is only my 2nd kittiwake sighting. Back in 2013 I was able to see the immature one at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing pier. I had heard there was one seen in 2017 and this was the 3rd sighting recorded in Pinellas county ever. People were phoning and texting friends and by noon a big crowd had formed.  Everyone gave him space and stayed off the beach area. They even stopped tourists from walking through the area. Twice he took off and flew down the pier and came back on the beach.

Laughing gulls were fighting over stolen bait fish (the one on the left has one in his beak).

A boat cruises by the lighthouse on Egmont Key.

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Backyard birds in March

Black and white warblers hanging around the bird bath.

The first time seieng an Eastern phoebe in the backyard here. We had one that spent the winter in our backyard in Tampa.

Chickadees are regular visitors in the yard.

Other regulars include cardinals, pine warblers and Carolina wrens.

A woodpecker taking off with a sunflower.

Bluebirds only stop by for a few minutes. One was sitting on the top of the feeder but they don’t get food from the feeder.

A squirrel being cute.

My Corner of the World

The return of the waxwings.

I always love seeing cedar waxwings. They looks so magestic,. This is the 2nd spring I’ve seen them at Possum Branch Preserve. They are usually hidden deep in the trees but if you are really quiet you can hear them wheezing up there.

A few minutes later they all took off and moved over to tree on the other side of the pond. I noticed the yellow tips on the bottom of his feathers in this shot.

There’s always a lot of alligators and bunnies here.

One of the ponds here is fenced in. It’s used as a watershed but I’m not sure why this one is fenced and the others are not. I found a family of limpkins moving along the fence in early April. The parents had 4 babies. They stayed hidden in the brush along the fence but I could see them looking for a way into the fenced pond. One of the parents flew in and two of the babies were able to get through the fence holes. The other parent stayed on the outside with the other 2 but eventually they also made it through the fence. If they stay in the fenced area another day or two those babies won’t make it back through until they can fly out.

It was a warm sunny morning and this great blue heron was panting.

Inspire Me Monday

Bugs for breakfast

It’s always fun to see sandhill crane babies. And, I always take a ton of pictures even though I already have a ton. This family was no exception. The two babies were so cute. I found them at Circle B Bar Reserve at the end of March.

They both stayed close to the parents who were finding bugs for them.

The babies would wander around being curious but then run back to Mom to get a bug. This went on for a while as they made their way down the trail.

Fighting over who gets the next bug.

I could have stood there all day watching them but it was time to head back to the car since I was getting hungry.

Purple birds

I was was walking around the Dunedin marina early one morning in late April when I noticed there were purple martins coming out of the bird house. I’ve seen many of these condo bird houses but this is the first time I’ve seen purple martins in them. I only had my phone with me so I snapped the above. My camera was in the car so I headed back and drove around to the area they were at.

I had seen them briefly before but this was the first time I was able to get a good look at them. They are beautiful! Of course the male is all shiny and purple (they look blue to me) in the sun. There were several flying around the house.

The above is either a female or an immature male. They might have already nested and this is an offspring.

I think this is a juvenile house sparrow, hanging out underneath the bird house.

An anhinga was catching fish close by in the marina.

The view in front of the bird house. The blue building is the Dunedin Sailing Center.

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Friendship Friday

Last spring trip to Circle B Bar Reserve

A few things blooming on the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve at the end of March.

Looking across the pond, I took this straight into the sun.

The painted buntings were still there and I was able to catch two males sitting near each other. After feeding they both flew across the canal.

A crow showing me his nesting material before taking off.

A few fly bys. A cattle egret up in the sky and a great blue heron cruising low over two alligators.

It doesn’t get much better than this. A cool sunny morning on the trails.

I could see an eagle high up in the cypress tree across the pond.

Farther down the trail I saw two eagles chasing each other.

They both landed high up in the trees and sat together for a while, often yelling. Mating season was over so I’m not sure what they were doing. Maybe a late nest? Maybe they were making plans to meet up this fall? Or they were talking about how great their new kids were?

I’m thinking this will be my last trip here until late Fall. It’s a long drive to Lakeland and it’s too hot to be out on the trails in the middle of summer. I’ll be sticking close to home and the coast to catch a little breeze (although probably a hot one).

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An eagle family update

In the middle of March my neighborhood eagle babies were as big as their parents. They were hopping around and moving around the tower near the nest.

One of the parents flew in with a squirrel and both babies attacked the parent. I’m sure both were hungry that morning. The older one usually gets to eat first.

The parent dropped of the meal and left. At this point they were bringing back several snacks each morning. These babies were eating a lot.

The younger one just sits there and watches his big sibling eat first. If there’s any left he’ll get the rest or wait for a parent to bring in more food.

A few days later it was dark and cloudy with a storm moving in so I stopped for a quick visit and caught one of the babies eating while the other was sitting high up in the tower. If the nest was in a tree this would be called branching, where they start hopping around from branch to branch but in this cause they are working their way up the tower.

Another week later and the oldest was still eating first. He eventually stopped and let the younger one eat but not without a “I can already fly” attitude.

A few minutes later a parent flew in with a small fish (in his left talon).

He dropped off the fish and took off again.

After a full meal everything was quiet for a while.

Inspire Me Monday

A different type of Easter eggs.

Since we moved into our home in late September, I’ve always seen Carolina wrens in the backyard. Some days there are two but always at least one looking around for food. They sit on the bird feeder or the plants and sing for a while.

One morning I was home in early April and saw one bringing nesting stuff to the hanging plant in front of the window.

All day I watched as both wrens brought stuff into the plant. They were building a nest in there. I would see one stay inside the plant and dig around.

Pausing before heading into the plant, or was he posing for me?

The only shot I could get of both bringing in sticks at the same time.

Sitting on the edge at the end of the day. I didn’t see them again for a few days and thought maybe they abandoned it. I’ve heard they will build several before nesting.  All of the above were taken through the window.

One morning I went outside to water the plants and saw her sitting inside. I was assuming she was sitting on eggs. Very exciting.

Occasionally I would see the male stop by.

One morning she left the nest for a few minutes and I peeked in and saw 5 tiny eggs. More to come on this story.

Largo Nature Preserve in early April

It’s always fun to see baby mallards (although with that yellow beak on the Mom, these may be mottled ducks). There were two families at Largo Nature Preserve in early April. One was feeding in the water and the other was walking around on the walking path. They eventually made it down to the water.

The two northern shovelers were still there. They are probably up north for the summer by now.

Looking up in the utility tower I saw a young eagle. I often see adult eagles sitting here but today it was a younger one. Maybe 4 years old? They don’t get a full white head until their 5th year. This one still had a little brown on his. Maybe he was born in the area.

While watching the eagle, a Canadian goose flies by. They hang out on the golf course along the park so it’s not a surprise.

Across the canal a cattle egret had a dragonfly in his beak.

Brown thrashers are common here. This one was singing away.

Night herons can usually be found napping along the boardwalk.

A monk parakeet coming down to the ground to get a snack.

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Flirting in the pine tree

Black hooded parakeets (or Nanday parakeets) are pretty common in the area. You can hear them screaming from far away. Almost every time I was at the eagle’s nest in my neighborhood a few would stop by. One morning several landed in the tree I was standing under.

One morning a pair of them landed really close to the kestral (on the right). The kestral took off.

In early April there was a flock that stopped on the utility wire right above me. Some of them flew into the pine tree nearby.

I walked over to the pine tree and saw that they were feeding. It looked like some were eating the pine cones.

Then I noticed two of them started to flirt. They were preening each other and then started mating.

When they were done they flew back over to the wire. Eventually the entire flock took off.

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