Right before spring break at the beach.

 

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The laughing gulls were pairing up. Chasing each other and fighting over the ladies.

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Young herring gull with a snack.

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Blurry picture of a barn swallow. These guys rarely sit still. I saw him from across the lagoon.

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The dolphins were active this Saturday morning.

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Heading towards the pier.

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One of the bird steward volunteers at the park. He was checking out the roped off area for nesting birds. They work on keeping the tourist out of the nesting area and answer questions about the birds.

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Rush hour  traffic in the bay.

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Having fun on a boat ride.

A few things at Fort Desoto Park in mid-March.

 Skywatch Friday

Another perfect morning at the fishing pier – Skywatch Friday

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Snowy egrets getting a bait fish snack.

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Flipping them into their mouths like popcorn shrimp.

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They were having a feast since someone left a good portion of their bait fish catch on the pier. People tend to pull up their nets, empty as much as they can in the bucket and don’t bother to pick up all of the stragglers.

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This juvenile laughing gull was having problems with his beak. At first, I thought his bottom beak was broken but it looked okay. But, he did have something wrong with his tongue.

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Some alone time under the pier.

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Beach bum lizard.

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“Man, I’m thirsty and tired of drinking salt water.”

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“Lady, can you come over here and turn this on?”

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Dolphin at the pier.

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Out in the gulf.

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Passing a sand bar.

Speaking of sand bars, the one above is a fairly new one. I zoomed in on it and the picture is extremely cropped so it’s pretty far away from the beach. I have heard that there are hundreds of birds that hang out there now. Maybe that’s why there hasn’t been many shorebirds at the north beach marsh. That’s where I’d be if I was a bird, not on the crowded beach at the park.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Scenes from a beach on Memorial Day weekend – Skywatch Friday

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A lone red knot on the beach.

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And then there were two.

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As I was sitting on the sand shooting the red knot, I looked over and saw this Wilson’s plover watching me.

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He grabs a small crab and was showing it off before he gulped it down.

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He cruised by me while keeping an eye on me.

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The park rangers having a meeting in the roped off bird sanctuary area. Since this was the Saturday morning before Memorial Day, they had a busy weekend ahead of them. Sometimes I think they must have a cool job but it must be hard being out in that heat all day not to mention every holiday. Dealing with drunk people (yes, no alcohol is allowed in the park but duh, people bring it anyway). I once heard a man who was slurring his words argue with a ranger over having his dog on the main beach where there are clear signs that say no dogs  on this beach. There is a separate beach for pets. The guy would not leave with his dog. If I was the ranger I would have wanted to taser the guy. The rangers at this park work hard!

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Great blue heron posing on a light post on the fishing pier.

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Yellow eyeballs on a snowy egret.

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A group of people kayaking around the fishing pier.

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Rush hour traffic in the shipping lanes.

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The dolphins were out in full force.

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Looking back from the end of the fishing pier.

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Zoomed in on a ship going by.

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A tourist had a nice stash of shells she was collecting. It’s not usual to find a big one like this on the beach. She was digging around out in the water near the fishing pier.

You know it’s going to be a packed park on a holiday weekend. I got there early Saturday morning and was home by lunch time. I could have stayed later and taken pictures of all the people packed in on the beaches but that would only make me crazy. It was nice to get out on a sunny morning and walk the beach and fishing pier before the crowds. After a long nap at home, I was ready to do chores.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Visiting the local movie star

Panama was in the same pool as Winter. Named after Panama City, where she was found, she was Winter’s surrogate mother. She seemed very friendly.

Panama kept showing off her tail. She seemed to be saying “I have a tail, see!”

This is Hope, found in December of 2010. Her mother had died. She was found on the night of The Dolphin Tale wrap party so the dolphin volunteer rescue team had to leave the party early to rescue Hope.

Close up of Winter.

Winter is now in the inside pool so the lighting and shadows made it hard to get a good shot of her. She did not have on her prosthetic tail while I was there.

Hazel’s houseboat sits right next to the parking lot.

I hadn’t been to see Winter since the movie had been released. The last time I was there, the movie had been made but hadn’t come out yet.  If you haven’t seen Winter’s Dolphin Tale, you should. I have seen it several times and still shed a tear at the end. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area, stop by and see Winter. But, go early on a school day. It gets crowded fast.  You can see Winter live here at Winter’s Webcam.  You can also check out my last post about Winter here.

Camera Critters

Don’t go to Sea World! Come to Fort Desoto!

Baby dolphin swimming to the right of mom.

The baby was heading right towards me.

Baby dolphin jumping out right in front of the pier.

More dolphins swimming around the pier.

Three dolphins swimming together. The baby was on the left.

A big turtle came swimming up to the fishing pier. This was the first time I’ve seen a turtle at the pier.

Close up!

Why travel to central Florida and pay a ton of money to go watch dolphins jump in a small pool when you can come spend the day at Fort Desoto for $5 a carload. You can watch wild and free dolphins swimming and jumping around the fishing pier. You can spend the day swimming and building sand castles. After a picnic lunch on the beach on a recent Sunday, I walked down to the fishing pier while hubby took a nap on the beach chair. There weren’t a lot of people fishing that day but there were at least 10 dolphins swimming around. I stayed on the pier for almost two hours watching the dolphin show. Right before I left, the turtle came swimming up. What a great finish. If that doesn’t convince you, I just missed the two manatees that had passed under the pier minutes before I got there. I could see them out in the distance but they were too far away to get pictures. Meanwhile, I shouldn’t be letting out the best kept secret spot in Florida. Then I’ll only have myself to blame when it gets too crowded.

Camera Critters