Windy day at the beach – Skywatch Friday


Little sandpiper creeping around in the fog.


Dowitchers watching  me as they walk by.


Where did his head go?


There were a lot of dowitchers on the beach that morning. I usually only see a few.


The usual black bellied plover.


Taking a bath in the back.


It’s weird to see a palm warbler on the beach, walking around in the sand like he’s a shorebird.


A few dunlins mixed in with the dowitchers.


They were digging around in the old dried up seaweed on the shore.


This one had seaweed all over his beak.


Another windy, foggy, cloudy morning. Which meant the kiteboarders would be out.


These guys were not at Fort Desoto. They were taking off from the beach along the Sunshine Skyway bridge, across the bay. Based on the direction of the wind, it was a better spot to kiteboard in.

A quiet morning at Fort Desoto since the weather was yucky.

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Looking for a new gull.


“Excuse me, are you guys Franklin’s gulls?” I said to these two. One gull said “Almost. Franklin’s gulls have a white chest and more black on their head.” The other gull said “And they have a little shorter beak than we do.” “Yea, we’re just plain ole laughing gulls that haven’t grown up yet.”


“Excuse me, can you stop preening so I can see if you’re a Franklin gull” I said. He said “I’m not one either lady.”


I kept looking in the big flock of birds on the beach. “Hey, you look different” I said to this one. He was half asleep.


“Hey Franklin gull, wake up. This lady’s been looking for you” said the laughing gull.


“Another fan. How boring.” said the Franklin gull.


“Okay lady, get your picture.”


I said “Can’t you at least stand up for a minute?” He said “Nope, I’m going back to sleep.”


At least the big herring gull stood up for me.


This juvenile herring gull was picking at a dead fish.


“Don’t take my breakfast, lady.”


A ring billed gull flies overhead.


Not a gull but a dowitcher. There were a lot of these on the beach.

It was a foggy Saturday morning. I went down to Fort De Soto because I heard there was a summer tanager and a few western kingbirds hanging around the parking lot area near the fishing pier. I got down to the park around 8:30am and there were already a lot of birders looking for both birds. No sighting at that point.  We all walked around for at least an hour with no luck so I decided to run over to the beach and see if by miracle the Franklin’s gull was there. This was my 4th time looking for that silly gull. I didn’t see him anywhere near the pier. I walked back over to the wooded area where the other birds were seen and the tanager had just been sighted (more on that one later). We were all standing there staring up in trees when someone said they had just seen the Franklin but he was much farther down the beach. After taking a handful of pictures of the tanager, I drove down to the other end of the beach and walked around looking for him. This time I got lucky. A huge flock of gulls were sleeping together and there he was with his dark head. It was nice that the sun came out for a second right when I saw him. By then it was lunchtime so I snapped a bunch of pictures and headed home.

Early November birds at Fort De Soto


Another plover on the beach.


This short billed dowitcher didn’t even bother looking up.


The palm warblers really like having their picture taken.


Kestrel on a branch. I usually only see them on the utility lines.


Hawk looking for something in the grass.


One of the Fort De Soto eagles on top of the utility tower in the middle of the park. Two years ago their nest in the tree got knocked down during a storm and they moved to the tower. The nest is up high and it’s not a good view to get a picture. Both eagles have been seen hanging around lately.


Yet another palm warbler shot. They have become as common as gulls now.

It was early November and a nasty storm came through on Saturday. The brave birders were out and saw several rare sightings at the park. I read about it Saturday night so I headed out Sunday afternoon. After searching for several hours with other birders, I saw none of the birds that were sighted there the day before. When am I going to learn to get out in the rain??? It seems like the only avocet sightings here are when it’s raining or just stopped raining. I can never seem to catch them. One of these days!

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Shorebird soup at Fort Desoto


I’m going with common tern on the above.


“This is what I think of you lady.” says the tern as he’s shaking his bottom at me.


Another common tern? He looks smaller than the first picture but his legs are a little more orange. A Forster’s tern would have longer legs.


Marbled godwit preening.


It’s funny to see a dowitcher and godwit sitting so close together.


Black bellied plovers in non-breeding feathers running around. There were a lot of them on the beach that morning. By a lot, probably 20. Usually, we see one or two at a time.


Another black bellied plover still in his breeding feathers with the “black belly”.


Juvenile sandwich tern showing some attitude. Not at me, at his parent. See below.


“I said go get me a fish!” The adult flew off. I didn’t see him bring back a fish.


Shorebird soup. A menagerie of birds hanging out on a sandbar together.

Just a few things on my morning trip to Fort Desoto in the blazing heat of mid-August.

Camera Critters

Beach birds at Fort Desoto


When I first got to Fort Desoto it was windy and cloudy. I don’t see the water this choppy very often. I usually stay away from the beach when the weather gets bad.


I found Big Red (reddish egret) in his usual spot at the north beach but he wasn’t doing any fishing.


This lone oystercatcher had the right idea. A nap on the beach. It was the Saturday before the 4th of July so he was soon going to be overrun with tourists if he stayed in that prime spot.


Things were quiet early that morning up at the north beach end. I found a few willets stretching and sleeping.


Plover shaking it off.


Marbled godwits trying to sleep standing up.


Dowitcher cruising around the water.


Ugly beach bug. I’ve never seen one of these on the beach before. I’m sure a gull will get him for lunch.

Quiet morning on the beach in early July. The day called for rain but I went out anyway. I got lucky. Mix of clouds and sun while I was there.

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Shorebirds at Fort Desoto on Thanksgiving eve


Mixed bag of shorebirds sleeping together.


Teeny tiny plover keeping an eye on me.


I didn’t see the kildeer at first. I pulled onto the grass to take a picture of the kestrel on the utility wire and saw this guy run out into the road ahead of me. It’s the first time I’ve seen a kildeer at Fort Desoto, although I’m sure they’re around. He was just standing in the road. A car drove by and he flew off but came right back to the same spot. I wonder if he’s staking out a nesting spot. It’s a little earlier for them to nest but around here you never know. It’s been 80 degrees every day so maybe he’s looking to start early.


Dowitcher searching for food.


Least sandpiper running around.


Sun going down on the shorebirds.

The weather in November was perfect. Although, it could have been at least 10 degrees cooler. I was able to sneak out of work a little early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving so I headed down to Fort Desoto. It was nice to get out before dark and I hadn’t been out much since fighting sinus infections since early October. I went down there with a purpose though. To look for the black scoter ducks that had been spotted there earlier that morning. I walked the entire beach length near where they had been spotted with no luck. I checked out both fishing piers and still no luck. Story of my life, 6 hours too late. It was still a beautiful night and nice to get out.

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