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.

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

Dancing for your breakfast

I was headed for a long walk on the Dunedin causeway in mid-June and wasn’t planning on seeing anything interesting but I threw my camera in the car “just in case”. I was almost back to my car when I saw a reddish egret feeding along the causeway. I ran back to my car and grabbed my camera and watched him feeding for a while.

He was busy hopping around, catching fish after fish. He started getting close to some people who were putting their kayak in when he took off. I thought he would be gone but he flew just around the people and landed again.

I guess he was pretty hungry since he kept catching fish. I spent half an hour taking pictures of him before he stopped and started preening. Reddish egrets are fairly common at Fort Desoto but this was the first time I had seen one here on the causeway. I’ll have to keep putting my camera in the car.

The babies were growing up

I was coming home from the grocery store early one morning and saw 2 little critters crossing the street right before my house. I slowed down and realized it was baby limpkins. I snapped the above and then went home, put up the groceries that had to go in the refrigerator, grabbed my camera, hopped on my bike and headed back down to the pond hoping they were still there.

They were still there with both parents. I’m assuming this was the family I found a few weeks earlier but there were only 4 babies instead of 5. They were about the right age to be them. I sat down on the grass and watched them for a while.

Both parents were busy feeding the babies.

The babies were busy trying to pretend to look for food but kept running back to the parents when the parents had food.

The babies were watching everything the parents did.

More food.

They were all over the place and it was impossible to get the entire family in one shot. Each parent was on opposite sides of the little pond with 2 kids. After feeding for a while they started preening and seemed to be settling into a rest time. I headed home, covered in bug bites since I forgot my bug spray.

 

Sushi for your first meal

I missed seeing those little fuzz balls. I had not been over to the beach to catch the baby black skimmers growing up since the summer of 2019. This year I got there right after the sun came up. Black skimmers nest in huge colonies right on the sand on public beaches. The area is roped off with signs to keep people from stepping on the babies since they blend into the sand. These were all taken far away from the rope since I had my 300mm lens and extender on my camera. These are also cropped up. The parents were just starting to feed the babies when I arrived.

The baby ages ranged from 1 day old to a week old. It always amazes me how they get those fish down. Even though they are tiny fish, they seem like they couldn’t fit in the baby’s tummy. There were a few times when a baby tried to swallow and then dropped it because they couldn’t get it down. Usually the parent would pick it up and eat it themselves.

It also amazes me how a parent can fly down to the water and catch a fish and then come back and find their own baby. Sometimes they get chased around by other parents trying to steal the fish or a baby thinking it’s his parent.It’s always chaos during feeding time.

Sometimes the siblings try and get the fish from each other and fighting takes place.

It’s funny to watch when the parent brings back a needlefish. The parent may break up the fish with his beak before giving it to the baby.

In the backyard

Usual visitors to the backyard including a Carolina wren, a titmouse, a chickadee and a very young bluebird.

I caught a great crested flycatcher getting a drink at the bird bath. You can see a little bit of orange in her tail feathers in the bottom picture.

Brett yelled from upstairs (I was in the kitchen) “Look out the back window.” I grabbed my camera and ran outside to get a shot of this guy on the fairway. Even though my camera was in my backpack in the closet, as soon as I ran outside the lens fogged up. I stood there for a few minutes and then this was the only shot I got before some golfers came through and he took off.

Caution – beetle porn. I saw these 2 on the window sill and had to go out and get a shot.  The green beetles are native to Florida and are harmless.

 

My jaw dropped when I saw this out of the back window. I took this shot from inside as they cruised across our little backyard.

As they were leaving the yard I ran outside and got the above. They made their way down the back of our townhomes, towards the woods at the end. What a treat to have 5 baby turkeys in your backyard

Skies in the backyard in late June.

SkyWatch Friday

Not my first myna

I had heard there was a pair of myna birds nesting in a storefront near my old office. Since I was going to be running errands nearby I threw my camera in the car. I found the nest one morning in late May but no birds at first.

After sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes trying to decide whether to leave and come back late or just wait, this bird flew up to the nest. It has some leaves in his beak so he must have been adding to the nest.

Another one showed up on the light pole. This one had a band on his leg. Mynas are not native to the US. Years ago they were popular pets so these could be escapees or they were let go.

They are pretty birds with that yellow around the face. I had not heard of them being in the Tampa Bay area until this spring. They are common down in south Florida though. Just a few weeks earlier when Brett and I were visiting relatives with his sister and her husband we saw one. We were having breakfast early one morning at a diner in Dania Beach and Laureen said “There’s a bird in the parking lot with yellow legs and yellow around the face”. I couldn’t think of what it was but we were able to find it hopping around the cars and sure enough it was a myna, my first one. I didn’t have my camera and it flew off quickly so I didn’t get a shot. Then 2 weeks later I hear about this pair right here in my area.

Summer walk on the causeway

I was heading out to the Dunedin causeway for an early morning walk in late June and saw that a baby turtle had been painted on the water tower right before the causeway. I had to turn around and take a quick shot. He’s so cute.

It was crazy hot even at 8am in the morning. I caught the drawbridge going up as I was about to cross it. It was a good spot to take a rest,

The usual great egrets and pelicans were hanging around the short bridge, hoping to steal some bait fish from an unsuspecting fisherman.

A fun bike rack in front of the kayak rental station.

After a long walk at the causeway I headed down to the marina for a quick walk. (I was really just stalling until my favorite lunch pick up place nearby opened at 11am).

Inspire Me Monday

Humming along in the backyard

I put up a hummingbird feeder in the backyard back in April. I had it up through May and didn’t see a single hummer so I took it down since it was so hot in early June and I was cleaning it every day. Then in mid-June I started seeing one around the gardenia bush and when I saw her feeding on the purslane plant in the backyard I pulled out the feeder and put it up later that day. She showed up the next morning. I loaded my camera up on the tripod in front of the window and waited behind the curtain with my remote shutter release. She came several times throughout the day for 3 days. I saw 2 flying around together but only saw one at the feeder. I’m not sure if this is only one or if they took turns coming to feed. I kept the feeder up a few days after that but I hadn’t seen them since that 3rd day.