More birds than bums on the beach.

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Lots of shorebirds on the beach at Anna Maria Island. Since we were in between tourist seasons, there were more birds than people on the beach. Mostly royal terns and sandwich terns with a lone juvenile ring billed gull towering over the terns. Young royal terns are still begging for food from their parents even though they look old enough to get their own food.

Saturday's Critters

Slice of Heaven

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Brett and I had a recent Friday off  and spent the day at Anna Maria Island. About an hour south of us, we drove down and spent the day on the tiny beach there. It’s a small community and I don’t think I saw a single hotel there. All houses and a few restaurants that you can walk to. It was sunny and 80 and we had most of the beach to ourselves. We had lunch at the Rod and Reel pier (top 2 pictures) and hung out on the beach. We napped, read and walked around. It was a perfect relaxing day before the crazy holidays start.

Blue skies at the pier – Skywatch Friday

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Brown pelicans can always be found around fishing piers.

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Common loons are a little more rare here in central Florida. Although, this is the 3rd one I’ve seen this winter.

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He was preening around the city pier in Anna Maria Island when I went looking for the rare razorbills.

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By the time I saw him with a fish, he was pretty far away from the pier. Extremely cropped.

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It was weird seeing downtown St. Petersburg across the bay. It’s almost an hour drive from where I standing to get back to St. Pete.

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Snowy egrets were hitching a ride.

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Rod and Reel fishing pier. There’s a restaurant on that top floor. There was a long wait the morning I was there. I did not eat there that morning but would like to go back with Hubby and hang out and get some breakfast.

The first few days after Christmas were beautiful which was nice coming home from rainy Atlanta. It was a bit chilly. Everyone had on jackets.  But, the sun was out and it was going to warm up that afternoon. I went down there looking for the rare razerbills and found a few other fun things too. Pelicans were everywhere and it was a nice surprise seeing the loon feeding even though he kept drifting farther away.  The tourists were out in full force, walking around and riding bikes. I’m sure they were glad to be out of the blizzards going on up north at the time.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Flying penguins in Florida???

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I get to the City Pier and see my first razorbill as it pops up from under the pier.

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He was chasing after the little minnows.

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Down again after that last bite.

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Giving me the eye.

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All wet.

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All morning they kept feeding around the pier.

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After an hour, they went cruising down the beach. We (a big group of photogs) followed them.

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Safety in numbers?

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Bye, bye.

The first post of a razorbill sighting in Florida was around 12/7. By 12/14, razorbills had been seen at the piers at Anna Maria Island, which is about an hour south of me. Soon the Florida bird forums were flooded with sightings of them all over Florida including the gulf coast. With it being right before Christmas and me working in retail, I could not get down there before leaving for Atlanta to spend the holidays with the in-laws. We drove back from Atlanta late Wednesday night and I immediately packed up to drive down early the next morning to find them. Hubby had to go to work and was like “Why don’t you sleep in?”. I said “No way, I gotta go find those razorbills.” Luckily, they were still hanging around and may still be there until spring.

This is a rare bird in Florida. Only 14 sightings on the east coast in the history of recording bird sights. No one knows the real reason they came this far. They usually spend their summers no more south than North Carolina. Some wonder if hurricane Sandy messed up their feeding grounds and they headed farther south for food. But to be on the west coast, they had to swim down around the keys and back up the gulf. People are worried about how they will make it back home. Do they know to go back south the way they came or are they going to try to go north up to the panhandle and get stuck there in the winter? They usually don’t migrate over land so it’s not known if they will fly across.

The sightings of this bird rare to Florida has even made the local news Razor bill article.

I spent about 3 hours watching a small group of razorbills swim around the two piers there along with a large group of photographers and bird watchers. As I was leaving, I heard a young girl yell “Look at the penguins. I didn’t think there were penguins in Florida.”

Camera Critters