I’m finally getting around to posting the additional pictures from my visit to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in late January. The wild great egrets were just starting to nest in the trees over the exhibits. They nest here since the eggs will be somewhat safe from predators and they may get a free snack.
This night heron was sleeping in the mangrove trees. It was a little chilly this morning so he had his face tucked in.
The sanctuary has tons of young night herons since the night herons also nest in the trees and they also nest over the nettings that enclose some of the injured birds. The juveniles look very different from their parents. They are funny to watch and act like clowns.
Looks like one of the injured oystercatchers has a broken wing.
The view from the observation tower at the back of the sanctuary. It’s a rare sight to see the beach so empty. It was chilly and spring break hadn’t started.
Out on the beach at Fort Desoto Park in early May, I found a few black bellied plovers.
I don’t see dunlins very often and it was great to see them in their breeding colors.
The stars on the beach this morning were red knots. Most were in their breeding feathers as well. These birds only fly in for a short time to rest up and fuel up before heading north for the summer. They are one of the longest migration birds, flying 9,000 miles each way when migrating. They spend the summers breeding in the Canadian artic and the winters far south in South America. We are fortunate to see them stopping over here in between. I feel like I see less and less of them every year.
There were a few juveniles mixed in but most were in their red colors.
Looking into the sun, the bird on the left looks like he has a snack.
It was a beautiful morning to be out on the beach.
In early May it was time for a road trip to south Florida. We hadn’t been down to visit relatives since 2019. Since Brett’s uncle was turning 90, his sister and her husband came with us. Our first night there we had dinner at a little pizza place in Hallendale Beach that had a great water and pool view. We sat outside since there was a nice breeze.
Saturday morning we went for a long walk on the Hollywood Beach broadwalk. There were so many things to see and this is a great spot to “people’ watch as we were walking.
Back at the hotel that afternoon, while everyone else was napping, I drove over to the nearby Hard Rock Hotel to see the finished guitar hotel. When Brett and I were here in 2019 it was halfway built. It’s a huge complex, almost like a theme park. When I was leaving I noticed you could see Fort Lauderdale way off in the distance from the parking lot.
Sitting outside eating dinner, a damselfly landed on my water. Instead of shooing him away I had to pull out my phone and take a picture.
A relaxing lunch by the pool before heading back to Tampa.
I was traveling light so all pictures were taken with my phone.
The best spot in the Tampa bay area to look for shells is Honeymoon Island, out past the Dunedin causeway. Thanksgiving morning we heading over for a quick walk before the cooking began. It started off cold but warmed up quickly as the sun kept rising. The tide was super low and you could walk out pretty far in ankle deep water. I love mornings like this. Sunny and cool, low tide and very few people out.
It’s not often we see whimbrels around here. The pair at Fort Desoto have been very accommodating when you can find them. They were right when you walk out on the beach the morning I found them in late October, feeding along the grass line before the sand.
It was extreme low tide and the buoys were exposed. The ruddy turnstones were picking tiny crabs off of them for breakfast.
This willet also found some breakfast.
The little tiny shorebirds are so cute creeping around in the muck. A snowy plover and a sanderling.
Skimmers cruising by.
Something spooked the birds way out on the sandbar.
There’s something magical about being out on the beach at low tide early in the morning. There aren’t many people out and you can walk forever and feel like you are out in the middle of the gulf.
Dead Australian pine tree graveyard on the beach. The stumps have all been smoothed down by the water and have been bleached out by the sun.
The tiny beach at North Shore Park, near downtown St. Petersburg was not as welcoming as these pictures look. They had just raked the beach of the dead fish from red tide but the fish were still floating up on the beach. At least the smell wasn’t bad and it was such a beautiful Saturday morning. The storms were coming in a little early since this was right before lunch.
The resident hybrid great egret/great blue heron was lurking around, trying to find a live fish to eat. Most of the birds don’t eat the dead fish but a few do and they get sick. The bird rescues are all full of sick fish from the red tide.
I stopped at Crescent Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk to look for otters. No luck on the otters but I did see the above in the vegetation in the lake. A juvenile little blue heron, a great blue heron, a blue jay, a snowy egret and a green heron.
A cute little black bellied plover was busy looking for food.
Standing on the pier, I could see this dog catching an orange frisbee way down at the other end of dog beach. He caught it every time. He was having a blast.
It was a good morning for the dolphin show at the gulf pier at Fort Desoto. The water was clear and calm and the dolphins were swimming close to it.
I headed up to the top of the fort to see if there were any birds hanging around the agave plants. I only saw a grackle. The little green huts cover the air vents in the fort underneath. I always expect to see little hobbits running around and living in them.
The view from the top of the fort.
Looking in the other direction, down towards the beach, you could see the people coming in for the day. This was around 10am so you know it’s going to be crowded by noon. It really is a little piece of paradise (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!).
I needed to get out of the house and go for a short walk so I headed down to Fort Desoto to walk out on the fishing pier. It was a dark and windy late morning and was threating to rain so there wasn’t a lot of people out.
The laughing gulls were driving the pelicans crazy. They would wait until the pelican had a scoop full of fish in their beaks and then try and steal one from them. Or at least catch any smaller fish that fell out of the pelican’s mouth.
A willet on the jetti.
Far down on the beach, I could see a wedding taking place. Looks like it had just ended. Good thing since it was starting to drizzle.
Kiteboarders were having fun at the other end of the park facing the Skyway bridge. I don’t often see girls kiteboarding but the one in the bottom shot was keeping up with the boys.
The rain was starting to move in so I headed home.
There is an actual fort at Fort Desoto Park. The fort was finished in 1900 and was used until after World W 2. Pinellas county bought the fort and surrounding area later and in 1963 it opened as a park. I don’t usually spend a lot of time there but one day in late October I wasn’t quite ready to go home for lunch so I thought I would climb the path to the top of the fort to see if there were any birds around.
You can rent bikes next door and I thought the bright colors popped against all of the green and blue.
Looking around the fort area, it reminded me of a picture I had seen looking through the old family photos.
Apparently I had been there when I was just a tot running around. It must have not been opened as a park long when we went because I was born in 1963. I must have less than a year old.
After the fort, I stopped by the fishing pier to watch the dolphin show.
At this point a storm was moving in and it was starting to drizzle so I quickly headed back to my car.