On the beach in late July

Out on the beach at Fort Desoto in July, I found a few birds including a laughing gull, a semi palmated plover and a sanderling.

The marbled godwits were busy feeding.

A reddish egret flies in from across the lagoon.

Out on the fishing pier, the birds were lined up waiting for someone to drop their bait fish.

This great egret was looking a little rough. I’m thinking he’s molting.

A cormorant busy preening on the light post.

A ship heading out for a long voyage.

Around the house

We had stacked up the outside chairs next to the hanging plant when we were having the house painted and the squirrel found it really easy to sit there and eat the plant. Half of the purslane plant had been eaten before I realized what was going on and caught him red handed.

This guy visits the backyard occasionally. I call him Notch.

I hadn’t seen a northern parula in a couple of months and then this guy showed up in early August. I was able to get a shot through the window right after it stopped raining.

This young cardinal had caught a lizard.

We had a lot of Carolina wrens in the backyard in early spring when they were nesting and then they disappeared. Then in early August we had a few show up again.

I was out riding my bike with my camera and saw this guy crossing the street. I was able to get a few shots of him with this huge meal before he took off down the creek so I don’t know if he ate it. I would have never thought there were fish that big in the small pond nearby.

Front yard skies in early August.

Inspire Me Monday

Breakfast with Mom and Dad

It’s not often I walk out on the beach and there are the birds I’m looking for. The oystercatcher Mom and juvenile were feeding right next to a snowy egret along the shoreline at Fort Desoto.

There were two juveniles with the parents and each one stayed close to a parent. The babies were almost as big as the parent but their feathers were not as black, their beaks were not as bright red and they didn’t have those beautiful yellow eyes yet. I sat down on the sand and watched the parents get some icky blob and feed it to the little ones over and over.

It was hard to get the entire family in one shot. I walked back on the beach a bit and was able to get both parents feeding the babies.

A couple of times the babies were able to find their own breakfast. They were watching everything Mom and Dad were doing.

They kept moving along the shoreline, staying busy eating.

At one point another bird came close and one of the parents flew off and chased it away. Here you can see that this one is banded with a red AE. She is the Mom and was banded in Georgia back in 2012. She has been a regular at Fort Desoto since then. The babies were born on Shell Key and didn’t make it over to the main beach here until they were old enough to fly over with their parents in early July.

They spent a long time feeding and I finally left. All of the above were taken with my 400mm lens and cropped up.

Dipped on a new bird

I was heading to the beach on the Gandy causeway early one morning looking for a new bird. A gull billed tern had been spotted there for several days. I parked and walked along the sand closely looking at every gull or tern. Was the above the new bird? I couldn’t tell when they were preening but when they stopped I saw that yellow tip on their beaks and knew they were just sandwich terns.

I know this little cutie is a black bellied plover.

Also not the bird I was looking for. This was a juvenile least tern.

A least tern out taking a bath.

The laughing gull is easy to spot. He was taking a bath in a puddle on the beach.

It’s past nesting season for least terns but these guys were trying to get the other tern to take the fish. The lady in the bottom was not interested.

Another least tern chasing after an adult with a fish.

I did not find the gull billed tern. I was a day late. But it was still a beautiful morning. The sun was coming up high towards Tampa and it was time to head home.

Looking towards the gulf the storms were starting to move inland.

SkyWatch Friday

Friendship Friday

Those crazy green clowns

I saw the big green clowns up in a palm tree at Fort Desoto near the fishing pier. I heard them first. That loud scream can be heard across the park.The black capped (or nanday) parakeets were eating something up in the tree.

Many of them were flying down and feeding on the wildflowers growing next to the pier. It was funny to watch them holding the plant with their feet. They kept their eye on me but otherwise kept eating.

Some of them would fly back up in the tree with their snack and eat there.

A 4 park morning

It was hot as usual at the end of July. I headed out early one morning for a walk at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs. I hadn’t spent a lot of time here, only driven through. I parked in the shaded area of the park and walked out on the causeway that leads to the beach. I was hoping for a breeze but didn’t get much of a whiff this morning but it was a beaufiful morning and I saw several dolphins far out in the gulf.

After my walk at Howard Park, I stopped at nearby Sunset Beach. It’s a small spit of sand but also a small piece of heaven the morning I was there. I imagine it’s packed on the weekends but early this Wednesday morning it was quiet and I sat on the bench for a while, watching more dolphins go by.

And if you forgot to bring a book with you to read on the beach, there’s a free library in the parking lot.

Another quick stop was the Anclote River Park, just north of Tarpon Springs.

A replica of the Anclote lighthouse was in the parking lot. The actual lighthouse is on Anclote Key, only accessible by boat.

One last stop was the Anclote Gulf Park just a few minutes away. I walked out on the long fishing pier and was hoping for dolphins here but didn’t see any.

Inspire Me Monday

More from the skimmer colony

After the feeding frenzy early in the morning most of the skimmers settled down for a nap.

They look so cute with those fuzzy butts.

Many of the siblings were fighting. I’m sure the oldest gets fed first. If a stray baby gets too close to another family’s scrape, the parent will shoo him away.

There are so many skimmers nesting in the same area. The area gets roped off by volunteer bird stewards who keep an eye on the area. I guess there is safety in numbers. When a crow or gull flies over the area, looking to grab a stray baby or egg, many of the parents chase them away. That’s why it’s important to keep the parents from flushing and flying away. Those mean birds will sneak right in and grab something. They are hungry too.

This baby is letting his parent know he’s hungry.

The adults take turns going down to the water to take a quick bath and scoop up a fish to bring back to the nest while the other parent guards the babies.

A small portion of the skimmers hanging out along the water (with royal terns behind them). By now most of the babies are all grown up and flying around on their own.

Crazy summer skies

I was heading out to the Dunedin causeway for a walk when this rainbow popped up.

Out on the causeway I could see rain far out in the gulf and I didn’t see any lightning so I started a quick walk but stayed close to the car.

When I got to the nearby bridge I could see rain all around me out in the water but the sun was out over the causeway. Even with the sun out the wind was blowing pretty hard so it stayed cool for my walk.

This great blue heron hangs out under the bridge. There’s usually people fishing under here so he’s hoping for a handout.

There’s a small tree on the causeway that has tropical white morning glory (also know as moonflower) all over it.

Right when I got back to my car most of the rain had moved out and a rainbow came out. I love mornings like these when the sky does crazy things.

SkyWatch Friday

Out on the beach

Out on the beach while watching the black skimmers feeding their babies I caught an osprey flying by with what I thought was some nesting material. Since it’s late for nesting, I think there’s a small fish in there and he grabbed seaweed with his fish, a nice little salad to go with his sushi.

Other than royal terns bathing, it was a quiet morning.

I stopped by the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary to see if there were any herons or egrets still nesting in the mangrove trees. I found a very young black capped night heron walking around under his nest.

Up above another baby saw Mom fly in nearby and started screaming to be fed.

The baby was going crazy for a while before Mom finally passed that fish over to him.

An older juvenile was watching me take pictures from high up in the trees.

A new bird in an old park

I had heard there was a rare pectoral sandpiper at Roosevelt Wetlands at the end of June. I hadn’t been to the wetlands in several years. I’m not sure why it sort of just fell off my list of parks. I wasn’t expecting to find it and I passed someone who had said they had been looking since sunrise and didn’t see it. After looking for it for only a half hour I found it. It was walking around in some mud flats and really blended in. It’s not an exciting looking bird. Kind of bland but it was a lifer for me.

They added a long trail to the wetlands that runs the length of the lake. It was covered in indian blanket flowers which was pretty cool.

A kildeer was feeding near the sandpiper.

I saw a few black necked stilts on my walk in.

On my way back to the car I saw the stilts again and noticed a baby creeping around near the one of the adults. He was a tiny little fluff ball.

He was so cute. The parents stayed close by and kept an eye on me so I quickly snapped the above and left (these are highly cropped). It was a productive morning out and I need to get back here again soon.

Inspire Me Monday