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.

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Out on the beach

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.

Another beautiful morning at the beach

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!).

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At the beach

No, I did not take these this weekend. We avoid the beaches on holidays. We are fortunate enough to live here and can go to the beach any time so we don’t go during the busiest times. This was a beautiful Saturday morning in early May.

The wind was blasting and you could see all of the kiteboarders bobbing up and down across the water near the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The usual birds near the fishing pier included a ruddy turnstone taking a break, a gull who was cruising the wind and a black bellied plover.

One last look for migrating birds at the ranger’s house came up empty. Only a young great blue heron and a white ibis in the fountain.

This osprey had built a nest right on the trail and was giving me the stink eye when I passed by. Luckily there isn’t much traffic on this trail when the heat sets in.

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Late day walk at Fort Desoto

I’m still going through my pictures from Fort Desoto in late October. So many shorebirds there at that time. Tons of gulls, terns and skimmers. The 2nd shot is of red knots, feeding before their trip south for the winter.

Many of the birds were taking baths before it got dark.

An uncommon herring gull.

Not sure what kind of snack this laughing gull has.

Some of the smaller shorebirds. Yellowlegs, dowitcher, a black bellied plover and a tiny snowy plover that was smaller than this pile of sand.

It’s weird to see turkey vultures on the beach. They were really in the muck at low tide. The one on the right had a small piece of fish under his foot that he was eating.

Great egret flyby.

This kid was throwing his frisbee into the birds. Why is it so fun to watch the birds flush? Someone walked over to him and asked him to stop and explained that the birds needed their rest before they migrate for the winter. He really just didn’t know. He stopped and went back to his family.

Heading home back into Tampa right before dark, I saw the moon coming up and had to stop and take a picture.

Little birds on the beach

The skimmers lined up along the shoreline at Fort Desoto.

Out on Outback Key spit, I could see tons of shorebirds from the beach.

So many shorebirds, so little time. The spit was full of different shorebirds but nothing new on this trip. The tide was high in mid-October early in the morning so I was wading knee deep to get out to the area where the shorebirds were. It was a slow walk just making sure I didn’t sink and go under. Everything was packed in my backpack but you just never know.

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Another morning at Fort Desoto

The usual birds at Fort Desoto in late September.

A fairly rare lesser black back gull was near the fishing pier. Little did I know that 2 weeks later I would see a greater one in Boston.

Pink and green covered the fields.

Rush hour traffic on the water.

A windy morning means lots of kiteboarders out on the water.

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Shorebirds at Fort Desoto in May.

A lone marbled godwit on the beach with a snack.

He’s cruising the shoreline looking for more snacks.

Another one flies in.

At first, the original godwit tries to chase the intruder away but after a few seconds they find their own space and both start looking for snacks.

A black bellied plover was also looking for snacks. I think that’s a sand flea. Yum…

Farther down the beach I find some dowitchers trying to nap.

The laughing gulls are getting frisky.

An old shell on the beach. It was still alive so I moved it farther into the water.

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Birds and boats at Fort Desoto

A rare yellow billed cuckoo high up in the tree.

Either a female or immature prairie warbler.

Hiding in hole. I was wondering if they nest in this hole.

Some of the shorebirds close to the trail, a ruddy turnstone and a black bellied plover.

I stopped by the fishing pier before heading home.

Far across the bay near Egmont Key.

Sailing past the pier, this old sailboat reminded me of my dad. He would have loved that boat. I turned it into a black and white photo so it would have looked like something he would have taken many years ago.

An early summer walk at Fort Desoto.

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