Little birds on the beach

The skimmers lined up along the shoreline at Fort Desoto.

Out on Outback Key spit, I could see tons of shorebirds from the beach.

So many shorebirds, so little time. The spit was full of different shorebirds but nothing new on this trip. The tide was high in mid-October early in the morning so I was wading knee deep to get out to the area where the shorebirds were. It was a slow walk just making sure I didn’t sink and go under. Everything was packed in my backpack but you just never know.

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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.

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A rare bird for Tampa bay

I took a gazillion pictures of these rare birds. This wasn’t the first time Avocets had been seen at Fort Desoto. Nor was it the first time for me to see this bird. But they are rare to see in the Tampa Bay area and usually don’t stick around long. My first sighting was on a small beach in north Tampa bay and there was only one.  Usually when someone posts a sighting in the area, they are gone hours later. These 3 had been around for a few days and I did not think I’d find them at the big park. As soon as I walked out on the beach I saw them so I was pretty excited. They were out on a sand spit and were far away but posed for a while. They looks so classy, almost like ballerina birds.

People were started to head out on the beach and someone came close by and spooked them. They flew right by me.

Later I saw them snoozing farther out.

While I was in Salt Lake City 2 years ago, I saw hundreds of them out in the middle of Salt Lake but I’m not counting this sighting since they were so far away. They are fairly common out there.

All alone on the beach

Lots of weird things on the beach at low tide at Fort Desoto. The first three look like brains to me but they call it sea pork. Maybe some time of coral.  The bottom one is a moon jellyfish. There’s been some articles in the news about how the beaches in the area are full of them. Thinking one of the last big storms blew them close to the area.

It was very quiet in late September. Hardly anyone on the beach. I walked out to the end of Outback Key and had the place all to myself.

This guy was feeding in a recent rain puddle near the parking lot. I can’t ever pass up taking shots of a spoonbill.

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Little birds on the beach

A perfect morning out at Fort Desoto wouldn’t be complete without seeing an oystercatcher. This one with the red band is a regular at the park. Someone out on the sandbar walked by and he came flying right by me.

A sandwich tern making a landing.

A  tiny snowy plover on the exposed sand.

Piping plovers have orange legs.

A great egret cruising by.

A young red knot.

Lots of different shorebirds at Fort Desoto in early October.

Lots of little birdies on the beach

There were a few marbled godwits at Fort Desoto Park.

Least terns

I think this is a juvenile sandpiper.

Lots of plovers running around including the Wilson’s plover in the first picture and piping plovers with orange legs.

Sleeping sanderlings

Soon the skimmers will be gone. They are rare to see in the winter at the park.

Tiny pink dots

I had heard there were spoonbills at Fort Desoto but I wasn’t expecting to find them. You can find one or two occasionally at the park but it’s rare to see a flock of them. As I walked out on north beach and headed out to Outback Key, I could see some tiny pink dots out on the spit.

I got about halfway to the spit area and took the above with my 400mm lens. Looks like they were sleeping so maybe they would still be there when I got out that far.

By the time I walked out there, stopping along the way to take pictures of shorebirds and chat with some photography friends, they were awake and moving around. People were starting to walk out ahead of me and jet skis were landing on the back side of the spit so the birds were awake. There were many pale young ones in the group and it was fun to watch them stretching and going to the water for a drink. All of the above were taken with my 400mm lens and cropped up so I was still pretty far out.

A while later they all flew off over to the other side of the park where no one could get to them to spend the afternoon.

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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.

Busy beach in August.

The royal terns were having a feeding frenzy at Fort Desoto in early August. The parents were busy trying to keep the juvenile ones fed.

I found another Harry the hybrid (great blue heron and great egret) at the north beach lagoon. I had heard there were two hybrids at the park but I had only seen one at the fishing pier. This one has more beige and grey than the one at the pier which is more white.

Birds cruising by at the north spit. You can see the boats far off at the tip of the spit already anchoring to party for the day.

Flowers near the parking lot.

Lots of activity going on around the park. It was going to be a busy afternoon.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

Summer at the beach

I got to Fort Desoto Park early on a Saturday morning in late July.  The clouds were starting to roll in before the people got here.

I could see it raining over to the far left and was debating on how far to walk out on the Outback Key spit. I had my umbrella in my backpack but wouldn’t want to have to walk back half an hour with lightning.

I walked out a little ways but the storm was moving in quick.

I stopped in the little lagoon near the parking lot to get pictures of a spoonbill. It was drizzling on me but the sun was behind my back and I could see a faint rainbow.

Minutes later the storm had moved away and I headed over to the bird sanctuary.

SkyWatch Friday