There were several glossy ibis flying over the rookery in late March. I’m not sure if they were nesting yet since they nest in the far back hidden part of the rookery. The color of their feathers really popped against the sun as they flew by.
Tricolored herons were still flirting. They nest later than the great egrets and wood storks.
A great egret showing off.
Yes, that’s an almost grown cormorant with his entire face down his Dad’s throat. He was trying to get the fish that Dad was regurgitating for him. I think he still wanted more.
A wood stork showing off his underneath green feathers.
There were so many wood stork babies here.
That fish was way to big for the baby to swallow. The parent realized that pretty quickly and didn’t want it to go to waste so down the hatch it went.
I spent a morning at the Safety Harbor fishing pier in late March. It was sunny when I first got there and I could just barely make out this kiteboarder cruising across upper Tampa bay. Tampa was just a shadow in the distance.
A sailboat anchored near the marina.
A cormorant guards the “no wake zone” sign.
Here’s the reason for the No wake and then Slow wake as you leave the marina. Manatees hang out here all year round.
It was low tide and the ibis were picking off tiny crabs.
A snowy egret feeding near the pier.
By the time I was about to leave the sky was dark and it looked like it was going to rain. I headed for my car not wanting to be out on the pier if lightning started but the sky said “Just kidding”. We are in a severe 25 year record drought right now. We are hoping the summer rains start soon.
The great egrets were busy nesting here as well as the Seabird Sanctuary. There were a lot more here though. They were mixed in with the wood storks. I can barely see the eggs in the 2nd shot. I don’t think there were any babies born at this point yet.
This female anhinga was pretty with those white feathers sticking out.
I caught this anhinga couple flirting.
The cormorants and anhingas were already sitting on nests high up in the cypress tree on the spoil island. The nests were pretty close together and there was probably going to be a lot of fighting going on up there when the parents try to feed the babies.
I’ll be making several trips over to this bird rookery in north Tampa this spring. I can park on the side of the road and take a few steps and there it is so there’s not a lot of walking involved. I’ll bring my beach chair next time and spend a few more minutes here.
I headed over to the Dunedin causeway to look for the elusive black scoter. I had recently driven down to south St. Pete to look for him without any luck. Then a few days later I hear there is one right at the causeway nearby. The first thing I saw was this turkey vulture eating a fish that must have washed up on shore.
The dark clouds had started to move in so it was hard to tell what was floating around out there. The two above were a pair of cormorants.
Was this it? No, I realized as I cropped it up on my camera. Just a common loon but still a cool find.
There she was. The black scoter that I could finally add to my list. She was pretty far out and these are extremely cropped up but she counts! Not a pretty duck by any means. I would have probably thought it was a female lesser scaup if I wasn’t paying attention. She’s a fairly rare duck but there were two sightings in two weeks. Unless, she’s the same one that was down south that ended up here.
The rocky beach on the north side of the causeway was littered with these fish. This was at the end of December when red tide was creeping north up the beaches. Luckily it didn’t hang around too long and is gone.
I stopped at nearby Possum Branch Preserve for a quick walk since I hadn’t been since May. It’s too hot and void of birds in the summer and I missed fall migration due to my shoulder surgery. I was meeting Brett for lunch so I didn’t stay long but it was good to get out there and walk the trails.
I finally caught the bald eagle in the tree at the Oldsmar pier. I had stopped by several times with my camera before finding him sitting high up there. He didn’t stay long, taking off not long after I had arrived.
As he left, he flew by so close that I couldn’t fit his wings in. I still haven’t figured out if this is one of the eagles that has a nest in my neighborhood or somewhere else. There is a another nest nearby but that couple did not use it this past year. He always flies north towards my neighborhood when he leaves which is why I’m thinking it’s him.
Walking on the pier I noticed another eagle sitting in a tree at the far end of the park. He was facing the water and wasn’t very visable from the sidewalk but I caught the above from the pier.
A few of the other birds at the pier. I think that tricolored heron was keeping his eye on the sky in case the eagle was heading towards him.
A cormorant cruises by the pier.
The black terns were still there.
The next day I was heading up to Tarpon Springs for a walk and I saw 2 eagles on a tower. I pulled over into a parking lot and shot the above. It wasn’t until later when I cropped up the picture that I realized the eagle on the right is a dummy. I don’t know if they put the fake up there to attract or repel other birds. The real eagle on the left didn’t seem to mind. Now I laugh when I drive by there and see that fake sitting up there.
A juvenile night heron sits alone at the front of the rookery. He’s been there on my last 2 visits. They nest deep in the bushes so I can’t see them as little babies.
A snowy egret still flirting.
The cormorants and anhingas nest high up inthe cypress trees so it’s a little harder to see those young babies. As they get older the bigger babies end up down on the rookery and Mom feeds them there. The top one is a cormorant. They have orange curved beaks and hook their fish. The middle shot are both anhingas (male on the left in all black and the female on the right has a brown chest and neck). They have pointed beaks and stab their fish. The juveniles with the great egret in the bottom shot are both anhingas.
A female grackle getting some bugs. They also nest deep in the bushes.
A wood stork getting a drink in the pond.
I saw a tricolored heron fly over to the top of a tree away from the rookery. She’s got food in her beak and she’s trying to get her young one to fly over to be fed. She was yelling at the baby to fly across the pond to her to get food instead of her bringing it to the baby.
The baby eventually flew over and got his meal.
All of the tricolored heron babies that I saw were almost fully grown. They all had their adult colors in their feathers but they still had those baby spikes on the top of their heads and were still squawking for food.
Another trip to Fort Desoto Park to look for migrating birds. The first thing I found was a squirrel being cute on the agave plant. I was hoping there would be birds on those plants but no, I find a squirrel.
Cape May warblers were still around. I found both females and males.
I also found a northern parula and a blackpoll warbler (I hadn’t seen one of those in several years).
An osprey was checking me out making sure I wasn’t going to steal his fish.
Cormorants were diving for fish around the fishing pier.
It was a slow dolphin morning but I did manage to find one.
The starlings and nanday parakeets were fighting over wire space in the parking lot.
I got to Fort Desoto Park after the sun had come up but it was hiding behind a big cloud. I was able to catch the orange glow behind the cloud though, right over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
I was hoping to find the big flock of white pelicans who had been hanging out at the park for weeks now but I could only find 2 out at the north end.
I know I have a million pictures of the reddish egret but I can’t help stopping and snapping a few more when he’s dancing around for his fish. He was hanging out in a tide pool and was putting on a show.
A few other birds on the beach was a turkey vulture cleaning up the beach eating a dead fish and a great blue heron strutting around.
I was walking on a back trail hoping to find the white pelicans in the back lagoon and saw this eagle flying in to a tree right in front of me. He landed in a dead tree which was good since he would have been hidden in the leaves if the the tree was still alive. He stayed for a few seconds and grabbed a branch before taking off. Assuming he was heading back to the nest across the park.
Pelicans flying across the clouds.
I stopped by the fishing pier before leaving but it was quiet. I couldn’t help but snap the cormorant drying his wings and then I noticed this crow trying to eat a piece of paper. He played with it for a few minutes but finally realized he couldn’t eat it so he dropped it in the water. Ugh. More trash.
Storms were coming on a Saturday morning in mid-February. I still had to get out so I headed down to Fort Desoto and brave the weather (to really look for some owls). The clouds were starting to roll in when I stopped at the bay fishing pier. The wind was blowing so hard that there were no one out fishing. Walking halfway out I saw a common loon all alone. I was hoping he would get closer but he stayed pretty far out.
A great blue heron flying in and landing in front of me.
A cormorant sitting in front of the bridge.
White ibis fly by in front of the clouds.
I headed up to north beach to look for shorebirds but only kiteboarders were there. The sun was trying to peak out but it didn’t for long.
In the other direction, a kite surfer was struggling to stay up.
Back at the gulf pier, the storms were coming in from the south and it started to sprinkle so I pulled my umbrella out of my backpack and walked around a little while longer before heading home in the rain. Even on a dark cloudy day this is a magically place (unless you are just looking to get tan).