A great morning for beautiful birds

I headed down to Fort Desoto at the end of August not expecting much. As I headed out to the north beach I was greeted by a few spoonbills. I rarely see them here and in fact it was probably last fall when they were in the same spot. I wonder if these are the same ones that have stopped by for a rest.

I found a few red knots hanging out with one of the resident reddish egrets.

A red knot still in breeding feathers.

The best part of the morning was seeing an uncommon avocet. It wasn’t really a surprise though. I had heard 2 were here but wasn’t counting on actually finding it so it was a bonus to walk up on it. I didn’t see the other one although it may have been hiding in the sanctuary close by. There were 3 that hung out here last fall and I was able to catch those on 2 visits.

A young skimmer fluffing up his feathers.

A dunk and a catch.

Looking over through the sea oats over to Egmont Key in the distance. If you look close in the right hand side, you can see an osprey sitting on a branch on the beach.

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Fishing on the fishing pier

One of the fun things about walking around on the fishing pier besides fishing, is watching the birds steal the bait fish. The snowy egrets get in squabbles over the tiny fish.

All lined up, waiting for someone to pull up a bait net full of fish.

This great blue heron had already eaten and was wiping his beak on the light.

Cruising by with the big boats in the background.

The guy who owned this rolling bucket was not paying attention. He had some fish already in there but left it open and walked farther down the pier to pull up another net full of bait fish. The snowy egrets and great egrets were having a feast until he came back.

 

Heading into sunrise

I was running late but it was just as well since there was that small cloud bank right at the earth’s surface. I was trying to get to Fort Desoto for sunrise, although since they don’t open until 7am I would have gotten it already risen anyway. Since there was no one else around, I stopped for a few seconds and shot this out the window with my phone at the top of the bridge before going into the park. I hadn’t been down to the park in 3 months due to red tide so I was pretty excited to be here early.

Stopping right before the entrance, the clouds were making the sun a little hazy.

The color was soft at the East Beach turnaround, looking towards the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

Half an hour later the sun was already high up. I headed over for a quick walk at the bay pier. Seeing the bait shop, it always makes me think it would be a great house to live in out on this pier. To wake up and peek out the window at the sunrise over the water every morning would be pretty cool.

Big boats on the water. It was a beautiful morning out and the dolphins were pretty close to the pier (more on those later).

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Hanging around the fishing pier

The views from both the bay and gulf piers. In the bottom picture, they are putting in a new utility tower that sits off the fishing pier. It’s weird to see the men tied off on top of that platform. I guess they didn’t want to risk a big splash in the water. It’s actually much higher up than it looks from the pier. They will eventually add the top part and the birds will be able to nest and hang out on it since the old one broke off years ago.

Color on the dunes.

Birds around the pier.

Several dolphins were coming up insanely close to the pier. They would pop right up along the pier as I was looking down so I could only fit in half of their bodies. There were at least 2 with one of them having a zig zag pattern near the blow hole.

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Great big blue (although they look gray to me) birds

The great blue heron is such a big bird. You can usually find them hanging around the fishing pier at Fort Desoto. I saw several when I was there in late May. I caught the one above flying in from across the pier.

One was busy scratching his head when another one flew in to land on the same light post on the pier. The one scratching his head took off and let the incoming bird land but not without a fight. Then he flew over to another light post that had a cormorant on it. The cormorant was not going to let him land on his post. So much bird drama on the pier!

Later I saw one with a bait fish that was stolen from a fisherman.

Cruising low along the pier.

This one let me walk right by him. He was checking me out to see if I had any fish. I pulled out my phone and took the above since he was too close for my camera.

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Going somewhere

Getting to the fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park early on a Saturday morning in June, I caught this cargo ship going into port.

It’s always fun standing on the pier watching the ships go back and forth. Wondering what they are carrying and where they are going. Being out at sea for weeks at a time. (Makes me sea sick just thinking about it). I wonder if this Del Monte ship is really carrying Del Monte canned vegetables?

Heading out.

It was beginning to look like rush hour traffic around the pier. Lots of sailboats and fishing boats going by.

The guys on this boat pulled up to the pier and caught some bait fish. I just keep thinking about what Dory said in “Finding Nemo”.  “Just keep swimming.”

The bridge in the middle of the morning with the sun sparkling on the water.

Turning around, another ship goes behind the dog beach as it turns the corner past the park.

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Typical birds at the fishing pier

I headed out for a walk at Fort Desoto on a Saturday morning in early June. It was a nice morning out but only the usual birds were at the pier. It’s always fun to see the prehistoric looking pelicans.

You can usually see osprey up close on the pier.

The snowy egrets were fighting over the bait fish that the fisherman were pulling up in their nets. When the fishermen shake out the bait fish into their buckets, a few fish usually land on the pier and the egrets squabble over them and occasionally a great blue heron gets in on the fight.

On the way home I saw a few frigatebirds cruising over the pond outside of the park. Of course I pulled over and got a few shots as they cruised by.

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Another beautiful morning at the beach

A cute little black bellied plover was busy looking for food.

Standing on the pier, I could see this dog catching an orange frisbee way down at the other end of dog beach. He caught it every time. He was having a blast.

It was a good morning for the dolphin show at the gulf pier at Fort Desoto. The water was clear and calm and the dolphins were swimming close to it.

I headed up to the top of the fort to see if there were any birds hanging around the agave plants. I only saw a grackle. The little green huts cover the air vents in the fort underneath. I always expect to see little hobbits running around and living in them.

The view from the top of the fort.

Looking in the other direction, down towards the beach, you could see the people coming in for the day. This was around 10am so you know it’s going to be crowded by noon. It really is a little piece of paradise (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!).

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At the beach

No, I did not take these this weekend. We avoid the beaches on holidays. We are fortunate enough to live here and can go to the beach any time so we don’t go during the busiest times. This was a beautiful Saturday morning in early May.

The wind was blasting and you could see all of the kiteboarders bobbing up and down across the water near the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The usual birds near the fishing pier included a ruddy turnstone taking a break, a gull who was cruising the wind and a black bellied plover.

One last look for migrating birds at the ranger’s house came up empty. Only a young great blue heron and a white ibis in the fountain.

This osprey had built a nest right on the trail and was giving me the stink eye when I passed by. Luckily there isn’t much traffic on this trail when the heat sets in.

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Another morning at Fort Desoto

I think I found some spring migrating birds. But only two. A red eyed vireo and a rose breasted grosbeak were the only birds in late April at Fort Desoto Park.

After walking the trails, I headed to the beach. The royal tern was doing a big stretch.

I caught these two willets fighting over the best spot.

Other usual birds on the beach include a ruddy turnstone and a piping plover.

I could see two big osprey babies on the nesting platform in the parking lot. The babies have white spots on their brown feathers when they are young.

A few of the boats from the fishing pier.

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