Walking across Tampa bay

A common loon swimming under the bridge. Loons are usually only here in the winter so this guy is either really early or really lost.

The usual pelicans hanging around the bridge.

Royal terns were also there.

Far off in the distance we could see dolphins. It looked like they were playing but I think they were herding the fish close to the causeway to feed off of them.

On the other side of the bridge, you could see planes taking off from the Tampa airport.

The sun was going down on my Sunday night walk over the Courtney Campbell Causeway pedestrian bridge.

SkyWatch Friday

A baby and a common loon.

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Lots of flirting still going on at the least tern nesting site on the beach.  The males bring their girlfriends a fish instead of roses.  There was only one baby but many adults still sitting on eggs. This is a tough area that they picked to nest in. Lots of crows and crabs trying to get to the babies and the eggs. That’s why it’s important the parents don’t get scared away. The area is roped off so people don’t go walking through there. The babies and eggs blend in so well, if someone was walking through with chairs, towels, coolers, etc, they would not see them.

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A ghost crab heading into the roped off area.

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A snowy egret was creeping along the shoreline.

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I saw a rare common loon swimming out in the gulf. I thought he should still be up north until fall. We usually don’t see these guys until late October.

Stuff at Fort Desoto in late July.

Usual and unusual at the fishing pier.

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Two baby osprey were peaking out over the nest in the parking lot and the nest on top of the smoke stack next to the bait store.

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Dad was close by with lunch. I think he was going to eat some first before he took it over to the nest.

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You can almost always find a reddish egret fishing somewhere on the beach.

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It rare to see a common loon here in the spring. Especially in his summer breeding colors. When they hang out here during the winter, they are a drab gray color. This one stayed pretty far away from the fishing pier.

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Big gulp.  There are signs at the fish cleaning station to “Not feed or throw fish parts to the birds” They all do it anyway. In theory it seems okay but the cormorants hang around the pier and get too close and end up getting caught with fishing hooks.

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The dolphins playing around the pier.

My Saturday morning walk at Fort Desoto in late May.

SkyWatch Friday

Fort De Soto on Christmas day

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Ruddy turnstone convention on the jetti.

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This one was on the pier.

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His feet were tangled up together. He was flying around pretty good so I’m not sure how you could catch him.

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My first common loon sighting of the winter. There were two of them swimming around in a lagoon.

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They are not common at all.

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A cormorant was going after a fish on someone’s pole.

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He’s thinking he has an easy meal.

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He was giving it a good tug but in the end the fisherman was able to pull it up with the fish intact.

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Although later, he did  manage to steal a fish from someone who wasn’t paying attention.

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Someone pulled up a starfish. Back he went into the water.

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I checked on the old owl’s nest from last winter. There was an owl sitting there sleeping. Hopefully there’s an egg underneath it. Last year the owl couple had two babies but only one survived.

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A great blue heron flying by.

We had a big late breakfast and wasn’t going to eat dinner until much later on Christmas day. We were tempted to spend the day on the couch in our pj’s watching old Christmas movies but it was just to gorgeous outside. Sunny and 70 degrees. My sister was visiting for the week from South Dakota and she wanted to get outside and walk around so we headed to Fort De Soto. It was a perfect afternoon. We walked around both piers and looked around at the North beach but it was too windy for any shorebirds. Perfect day off.

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Also, check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention  for 

A sad picture but happy ending.

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These beautiful loons only stay in Florida for a few short months during the winter.

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I caught one busy getting his own fish.

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He was gulping them down, one after another. Then the below happened.

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A loon had gotten caught in fishing hook and the fisherman was pulling him up on the pier. At least the fisherman next to him had told him not to cut the line, to pull him up and get the hook out. It’s better to use a bait net but they pulled him so fast no one had time to get the net. I ran over to the corner and shot the above quick right before he came up on the pier.

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A volunteer from the Tampa Audubon was there and helped get the hook out. The hook came out quick and the loon was released back into the water.

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This pelican was not so fortunate. He has fishing line stuck somewhere on his body. He was on the other side of the pier that is not accessible.

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A few other sights on the pier that morning. And we wonder why they just cut the line instead of pulling up the bird. They can’t even bother to pull up their own pants.

If you missed the story the Tampa Bay Times posted on this issue that I attached in my last post, here is the link again. This not new news. I found this article from 2010 about the same subject.

Injured birds around the fishing pier – Skywatch Friday

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Hubby and I stopped by the Sunshine Skyway fishing pier to look for the rare kittiwake that had been sighted there earlier that week. We looked, along with several other birders, for over an hour with no luck. I did get a lot of “birds in flight” practice that morning.

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I realized after I cropped this up that the royal tern had a hook in his beak. This was a common sight around the pier.

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I saw another royal tern on the other side of the pier with a hook pulling on his skin. He was trying to swallow a big fish. He got the fish down but not without doing more damage to the beak area. I’m not sure how someone would be able to catch this one. He was flying pretty good and stayed on the other side of the pier that you can’t get to.

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Another royal tern with a fish.

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He flew right over my head. No hooks here.

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This common loon has a hook in it’s beak.

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This loon was showing off. This has been a banner winter for loons in the Tampa bay area. We only get them in the winter here around Tampa and last winter I only saw 2.

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Back down for another fish.

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Ruddy turnstone posing on an oyster bed.

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A view of the Sunshine Skyway bridge from the rest stop. The bridge takes  you from St. Petersburg over the bay to Sarasota and south Florida. This new bridge opened in 1985 after a freighter crashed into the old one doing enough damage to close it down back in 1980. Part of the old bridge is still used as a fishing pier.

The couple of times that I’ve been out on the fishing pier, it has been packed with people fishing. The birds, including gulls, terns and pelicans, hang out here to fish as well. They also like to steal the bait fish from the fisherman. The biggest problem is that the birds will go after a fish that is already on a hook and the birds get hooked too. There are educational boards all over the fishing pier with instructions on how to reel in a hooked bird and take the hook out. It is clear to never cut the line. The bird will die with a hook and fishing line trailing behind it. After spending time on the pier, you will get the impression that most people don’t care and will just cut the line. I say most because there are a few people out there with a soul and will help release the bird the right way. With the amount of birds flying around with hooks, most just cut the line. The local bird rescue and rehab company has been having financial problems and has stopped taking in injured birds. A new group of volunteers are working on starting up a new rescue group. With all of the birders out on this pier recently looking for the kittiwake, there’s been a growing concern on how to help out at the pier.

There’s so much more to this story. I’ll save that for a later date. I still stand behind my thought “No fishing should be allowed on fishing piers.” Like that would ever happen in Florida.

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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.

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