A quiet morning at Fort Desoto

Someone had staked out their spot on the spit island just off the north tip of the beach. By early November, the red tide algae bloom was mostly gone from the beach but there were still some spots that smelled of dead fish. The water looked clear but the bloom came back later for a short time after a big storm. The morning I was there was clear.

The birds on the trails were scarce with the exception of a few common ones including a northern parula and many of the state bird, the mockingbird.

The usual waterbirds were also around.

Frigatebirds were flying high overhead.

On my way out of the park I saw a bald eagle sitting on a utility tower. All of the eagles are back for the winter.

Ghost town on the beach

A nice clean beach after Park supervisor Jim had scooped up all of the dead fish from the red tide algae bloom that lands on the beach during high tide. This morning in late October, Jim had told me that they had just cleaned up 6 miles of beaches, trying to keep it clean so the tourist can enjoy the beach. Even in late November, we were still getting some dead sea life but not as bad as it was in October.

It was still a beautiful morning even with a slight fishy smell.

The dog beach and the fishing pier were deserted that morning since no one wanted to be in the red tide water. It was like a ghost town.

I did see some dolphins coming out of the water from far across the bay.

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Birds on the beach during red tide

There were few birds out on the beach at Fort Desoto when I visited during the peak of the red tide algae bloom. The few there were busy eating breakfast. Some were eating the dead sea life that had washed up on shore. I didn’t see any birds acting sick during this trip. Volunteers were out on the beach every day looking for sick birds that could be affected by eating too much of the dead fish. I kept yelling “Don’t eat that.” but they weren’t listening.

A cormorant and osprey were fighting over a lamp-post on the pier.

Even the crows were eating the dead fish. The park rangers kept raking up the shoreline but the dead fish kept washing up on shore.

Royal terns in the air.

The sandbar spit across the channel was full of birds.

Still a beautiful day out at Fort Desoto.

A beautiful beach day before red tide rolled in.

Things along the trail from our car to the beach.

Out on the beach, it was a perfect quiet morning in late August. We get there early before it gets too hot and crowded.

The water was crystal clear but warm. This was before the red tide had brought dead sea life to the beach, the calm before the storm. I was traveling light this morning so all above were taken with my phone.

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A sad day at my favorite beach

Walking out on the beach this past Saturday morning seemed like any other Saturday morning. There wasn’t a smell (since the wind was coming from the east or other side of the park). At first glance the beach seemed clean but weirdly void of any people. As I got closer to the water, that’s when I saw the signs of red tide. Red tide is a naturally occurring thing that happens in the gulf when the algae blooms and releases toxins that kill the sea life.  The last big red tide event happened here in 2005. It was devastating to the sea life that year. Beaches south of us in Sarasota and Fort Myers have had red tide issues since early this year. It just reached my beach in the last few weeks. I had heard mixed reviews on how bad the dead fish were at the beach so I headed out to see what was going on. The day before, the park rangers had cleaned up 6 miles of beaches full of dead fish but fish keep coming flowing back on the beach with the waves.

Here is some scientific information on red tide.

This was the first time I had seen so many different crabs on the beach along the water. These camouflage crabs will eventually make their way back into the water. The ranger told me that crabs in general are not as affected by the red tide but it was weird to see them on the beach.

Lots of different ones on the beach including this crab that had a barnacle living on it.

While our beach has had a mild case of red tide so far, many of the beaches south of us had record numbers of dead dolphins and manatees turning up this summer.

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Birds and boats at Fort Desoto

A rare yellow billed cuckoo high up in the tree.

Either a female or immature prairie warbler.

Hiding in hole. I was wondering if they nest in this hole.

Some of the shorebirds close to the trail, a ruddy turnstone and a black bellied plover.

I stopped by the fishing pier before heading home.

Far across the bay near Egmont Key.

Sailing past the pier, this old sailboat reminded me of my dad. He would have loved that boat. I turned it into a black and white photo so it would have looked like something he would have taken many years ago.

An early summer walk at Fort Desoto.

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