Out and about one afternoon

I headed out to Fort Desoto late in the afternoon in early November. There wasn’t a lot of birds around later in the day but it was a beautiful afternoon.

Way out in the bay,

The sun was started to get lower at my favorite spot.

I drove over to the gulf pier before leaving.

Looking back at the old smoke stack.

Silhouettes of birds flying near the pier.

The sun still had a ways to go and I had to get home so I quickly snapped the above.

SkyWatch Friday

The fort at Fort Desoto

There is an actual fort at Fort Desoto Park. The fort was finished in 1900 and was used until after World W 2. Pinellas county bought the fort and surrounding area later and in 1963 it opened as a park. I don’t usually spend a lot of time there but one day in late October I wasn’t quite ready to go home for lunch so I thought I would climb the path to the top of the fort to see if there were any birds around.

You can rent bikes next door and I thought the bright colors popped against all of the green and blue.

Looking around the fort area, it reminded me of a picture I had seen looking through the old family photos.

Apparently I had been there when I was just a tot running around. It must have not been opened as a park long when we went because I was born in 1963. I must have less than a year old.

After the fort, I stopped by the fishing pier to watch the dolphin show.

At this point a storm was moving in and it was starting to drizzle so I quickly headed back to my car.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Usual things at Fort Desoto

Lots of little birds on Outback Key at Fort Desoto. After a morning of looking through all of these little birds for anything unusual with no luck, I headed over the fishing pier to see what was going on there.

My friend TOTO was hanging out near the fishing pier (he is tagged with a band that has TOTO on it). He’s been around for years.

A snowy plover was skipping around in low tide.

Sushi for breakfast.

Pelicans were also diving for their sushi breakfast.

“Whatta you want lady?”

I think that’s a piece of apple in this crow’s beak. At least it’s not a chip.

What is he doing up here? I have never seen a reddish egret hanging around the fishing pier. They are usually feeding along the shoreline.

image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Our World Tuesday Graphic

 

A snowy egret convention?

If you walk down the fishing pier at Fort Desoto, you may see all of these snowy egrets lined up on the railings. Is there an egret convention going on?  No, they are waiting for a boat to come close to the pier to pull up bait fish. They must have seen the boat below coming close to the pier and were hoping for a handout.

A few of the egrets immediately fly down and land on the motor or the boat. They squabble over the best spot on the boat (don’t humans do that too?). They wait for the guys on the boat to haul up a net full of bait fish and then hope to get any of the fish that fall out of the net onto the boat.

Some of them are brave enough to steal some out of the bait bucket if they guys aren’t watching closely. This one above got a free handout.

A common sight on boats around the fishing pier. They usually fly off once the boat takes off.

Bait fish thieves

What were all of these snowy egret doing on the roof of the shelter at the fishing pier at Fort Desoto?

They were waiting for some clueless guy pulling up bait fish and dumping it on the pier before putting it in his bucket. The guy dumped out the fish and then turned his back on the fish to get something out of his cart before he was going to put the bait fish in his bucket. The birds swooped down and had a feast before he realized what was going on and scared them away. There was still plenty of fish left but it was funny to watch.

After the snowy egrets left, Harry, the hybrid great blue heron and great egret, decided to swoop down and grab a fish before they were all picked up.

A few birds in mid-May

A female scarlet tanager getting a snack from the fig tree.

The male was not too far away.

I had heard this was a veery. I don’t remember seeing one before but everyone said they aren’t that rare.There were several in the oak trees.

I don’t remember what this was now. A female something?  It was also feeding in the fig tree. Might have been an immature tanager.

Another femaile tanager hiding in the bushes by the fountain.

You can always find a ruddy turnstone on the fishing pier.They look really cool right now in their calico colors.

That dolphin photo bombed my “pelican on the broken tower” picture.

Cruising close to the pier.

A beautiful day for just being out.

I love the drive leaving the pier.

Fort Desoto Park was one of the first closed parks to open in early May. I made it there in the middle of the month and it was good to be outside at the beach. We had missed most of the migrating birds that had come through in late April but there was still a few hanging around the morning I was there.

SkyWatch Friday

Ballast Point

I found some older picture that I took with my phone from the fishing pier at Ballast Point park in south Tampa.

Taken back in the summer, I had stopped for a quick walk before meeting Brett for dinner after work.

Dark clouds were moving in and you could barely make out the Tampa skyline across the bay.

Of course I shot one of the crow with the missing foot sitting on the end of the dock. He came pretty close. I think he was looking for a handout.

SkyWatch Friday

 

Dolphin day at Fort Desoto

Dolphins were swimming all around the fishing pier in late September.

This fishing boat came close to the pier to pull up some bait fish. It became clear that these guys didn’t really know what they were doing as they ended up hitting the pier and breaking several of the the fishing poles sticking up in their boat. All of the fishermen on the pier were giving them a hard time about getting stuck. They eventually got some bait pulled up and left.

Then they went out to the tower where the pelicans were peacefully sleeping. They got too close to the tower and scared all of the pelicans away. I hope they eventually got the hang of it, for the wildlife’s sake. Never a dull moment at Fort Desoto Park.

“Help Me” said the pelican

I was taking pictures of shorebirds along the sea wall near the fishing pier when this pelican flew really close right over my head. I noticed his leg and wing were caught up in fishing wire. He could not straighten his leg back.

I was thinking he would cruise right by me but he landed just feet from me on the sea wall. He let me walk right up to him and take this picture with my phone. Notice the wire and sinker by his foot. I felt like he was telling me to help him. I told him to stay put and ran back to my car and drove over to the ranger station and reported it. He could still fly so there was no way I could have grabbed him and taken him over there. The lady said a ranger would be right over so I headed back to keep an eye on the pelican until someone got there.

When I drove back to the fishing pier, there were 2 rangers already there that were pulling a dead pelican out of the jetty. He probably got caught in the rocks with fishing line and couldn’t get out. The ranger said they spend a lot of time helping the birds that have fishing line on them. That’s why it’s so important for people fishing not to cut the line. Below are pictures of the signs at all of the fishing piers showing how to reel in a hooked bird and clip the line from the bird.

The rangers are experts at catching birds quickly and taking off all of the fishing line. This bird was cleaned up and released pretty quickly.This is not a part of their “day job” and they do it with a smile on their faces because they love the birds.

The pelican walked away, testing his wings before hopping toward the beach.

He flew down to the beach and stayed for a few minutes, preening before taking off. He’s one of the lucky ones. Many of them fly back to spoil islands and the fishing line gets tangled up in the mangroves and they can’t fly away and end up starving.

That was my little adventure at Fort Desoto recently. I was just glad the pelican didn’t fly away after I left to go get a ranger.

Photographing New Zealand