Another morning at Fort Desoto

It was a beautiful morning in early September. I was at Fort Desoto looking for the flamingoes again. I had made 2 trips out already and had only seen 1 each time. I had heard there were several here the day before.

Again, I found one at the north beach tip and it took me a while to hike out near it.  I snapped a few shots and it took off over the trees. They don’t stay long in the lagoon here.

I headed over to the fishing pier before leaving and caught the boat rush hour traffic.

A manatee made a brief appearance near the pier with only his snout coming up for air.

I found some of these cool sea creatures in the shallow water.

Pictures from around the park taken with my phone.

an image of a red sports car with a lady caricature going at Vroom Vroom high speed, Senior Salon Pit Stop Vroom Vroom Linkup

Looking for a pink bird

I had heard there was a pink bird near the Safety Harbor boardwalk so one late afternoon in September I hopped in the car and headed over. After a quick glance by the boardwalk and not seeing the bird I was looking for I started to check out what else was there. I found the above ibis with a young horseshoe crab in his beak. He didn’t swallow it whole but took it over to the exposed sand and started picking at the insides. I don’t think it was much of a meal.

The water was calm and I could see parts of downtown Tampa far across the bay.

There were a lot of birds out on the sandbar area. Mostly laughing gulls and pelicans but there were a few terns in the mix.

A belted kingfisher flew by.

This was not the pink bird I was looking for but the roseate spoonbill is still pretty. She was feeding with several ibis. The reflections were clear since the water was not moving.

Here is the pink bird I was looking for, an American flamingo. One of the wild ones that got blown up to the Tampa bay area during Hurricane Idalia. She was first seen here just past mid-September so she wasn’t one of the first ones to be seen in the area. She is banded and the only info we have been able to find is that she (or he) was banded in the Yucatan (eastern most part of Mexico). The locals that live in Safety Harbor have named her HarborRita (like a Margarita from the Harbor!). She’s been the most consistent one to see but she’s not there most of the day. She usually shows up early in the morning and is gone by 8:30am and then is sometimes there late in the day.

A few mornings later I stopped by to see if she was there. It was pretty cloudy and I thought that would help since the sun would not be behind her. She was not there this morning and you can barely see Tampa across the bay.

I did find some roseate spoonbills taking a bath.

I took a short walk around the marina and the sun was starting to come out. At this point the spoonbills were preening and starting to settle in for a nap.

SkyWatch Friday

Flamingo frenzy

I’m jumping ahead to a recent phenomenon that has taken place in the Tampa Bay area. We were lucky again when Hurricane Idalia was heading for us. I found this quote when Hurricane Ian happened last year “It’s possible to be heartbroken and thankful at the same time.” It applies again when Idalia came roaring past us and directly hit some small towns in the big bend of Florida. So many of us sat and watched the tv wondering if our electricity would go out when it started to storm. We watched in horror as towns north of us got slammed. Although there was a lot of flooding in our area from the storm surge and homes along the beach areas got a lot of damage, in general most of the Tampa area was spared.

Besides the flooding, the storms brought a lost visitor to our area. American flamingos were being sighted all over the Tampa Bay area. Until the hurricane, the only place you could see wild flamingos were in the Everglades and the Keys (there was a lone flamingo living in the panhandle at St. Marks Refuge that was lost there during Hurricane Michael in 2018). Someone saw 16 flamingos at a park nearby but the park was closed and I was not able to get up there the day after the hurricane (to sneak in and see them along with other birders). The next day they were seen on Treasure Island beach. I went a day later and they were gone. Then some were seen at Fort Desoto Park. Seven were seen early Saturday morning but I did not make there until that afternoon.

I got to the park around 3:30 and walked out on the beach and saw one lone flamingo up at the northern end of the lagoon. I snapped the above before hiking along the beach just in case he flew off before I got there. He’s a tiny speck of pink to the left of the umbrellas.

He stayed in the same spot for 2 hours and fed.

There were tons of shorebirds and other water birds feeding but none got too close to the flamingo.

Zooming out I could barely see a guy across the lagoon also taking pictures. I wasn’t alone on the beach side. There were tons of people that had come to see them.

Standing out in ankle deep water you could see how far away we were from the shorebirds and the flamingo was just as far so the above are all cropped up.

Two days later there were 3 seen at the park so I got up in the dark and drove down to the park. When I got out to the beach there was still only one flamingo and he was even farther north.

I was debating whether to start the long walk up to the north end of the beach or just go home and the flamingo flew across the lagoon and over to the marsh behind the mangroves. He was so far away.

The big crowd started heading toward the marsh. I followed, still trying to decide if I should head home or at least go look for other birds. The flamingo was taking a nap right up against the mangroves. I didn’t make it over as far as the above people did. I turned around in the muck and left. People had driven all across the state to see them and they were just glad to catch a glimpse of him sleeping. I was glad I had seen the one a few days before.

A few days later the flamingos were gone from the park. But, some had been seen at different areas all over the state. We’re hoping they are safe and all end up back home at some point but it was great to see even one wild one nearby.

A January morning at Homosassa Springs

It was just starting to look like fall at the end of January. Some of the trees at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife park were really pretty in red and orange.

A few of the resident flamingoes.  Is it me or is that 2nd one a little grumpy? I think he might have been rolling his eyes at me.

The resident whooping cranes were napping.

We don’t get caracaras in the Tampa Bay area so many people have never seen this bird before. I’ve only seen one in central Florida once on the way to Miami.

One of the otters was out playing and came close to the boardwalk.

I caught some ibis taking baths in the main pond. These guys are wild and hang out hoping for a stolen snack.

The water was so clear, you could see the fish swimming around.

Birds at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

It’s not often you can get this up close with an eagle. This one was missing part of his wing and was spending his time at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. I caught him taking a bath.

Pelicans were hanging out in their big open space. Some were starting to nest.

Other birds were just hanging out and preening when I was there in mid-November.

I caught these two wild night herons fighting over nesting space over the roof of an exhibit.

You can also get close to the spoonbills. And since the flamingos were right behind you, you wouldn’t have to look at them and think they were flamingos.

More pretty birds at Gatorland

A snowy egret was showing off.

The snowy egrets and tricolored herons were sitting on eggs.

Getting a stick for the nest.

The never ending chore of grooming for great egrets. The last one still had his pretty green spring face on.

A tricolored heron and snowy egret were having a fight over a fishing spot.

Flamingo ready for a nap.

More wild birds at Gatorland coming in to nest at the bird rookery (the flamingo is a resident).  These were all taken in April.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

Wild and resident animals at the zoo

The trees are full of wild ibis all over the zoo.

The wild blue herons and tricolored herons were just starting to build their nests over the alligator exhibit.

A zoo resident stork was sitting on a nest. By nature, she’s covered in flies. When she moved, they would buzz around.

A resident flamingo splashing around.

Two “head banger” birds in the aviary.

Up close with manatees at the manatee hospital pool there. These are all injured manatees that are in rehab at the zoo. Most of them get released when they recover. (taken through the glass with my phone).

Fun at the Lowry Park Zoo in late March.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

dsc_0116 dsc_0260 dsc_0269

All of the above are missing a wing. They are permanent residents at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.


A wild vulture stopped by for a handout.




Lots of other Florida wildlife there as well.







The flamingos were taking a bath or napping.

A few things from Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in late December.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing

More than just gators at Gatorland.


“Gimmi a kiss.”


“To the left a little.”


“That hits the spot.”


Gatorland bunny has the run of the place. But he better watch out and not go into any of the alligator exhibits.


Pretty in pink.




Sexy emu


Bees were buzzing.


The swamp walk was full of ferns.


New growth.


Getting crispy.

There are lots of other things at Gatorland besides alligators and wild baby birds. They have parrots out in the open hanging out together and playing. Rabbits and wild ducks can go where ever they want. The swamp walk is a boardwalk that goes through a swamp filled with ferns. Red bellied woodpeckers were flying high up in the trees. I get there early to take pictures of the baby birds in the mangroves along the alligator lake but before I leave I take a walk around the rest of the park to see what else I can find.

Check out more pictures at Our World Tuesday Our World Tuesday Graphic

Also, check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention  for