In early November I headed out to Fort Desoto late in the day. I rarely go late in the day but it had been nasty that morning and then the sky cleared up. I was hoping to see the white pelicans again before they took off for another spot in the state to spend the rest of the winter. They were still out on the spit but this time most of them were on the sand instead of in the water. It looks like they were winding down for the day and getting ready for bed.
Zooming in, I could see many of them already starting to sleep. One by one they were starting to plop down on the sand.
A few were still stretching and preening.
Some were still taking that late day bath.
They all looked pretty fat and happy but looks could be deceiving. Hopefully that’s they case and they are all filling up on fish during their short stay.
I’m still going through my pictures from Fort Desoto in late October. So many shorebirds there at that time. Tons of gulls, terns and skimmers. The 2nd shot is of red knots, feeding before their trip south for the winter.
Many of the birds were taking baths before it got dark.
An uncommon herring gull.
Not sure what kind of snack this laughing gull has.
Some of the smaller shorebirds. Yellowlegs, dowitcher, a black bellied plover and a tiny snowy plover that was smaller than this pile of sand.
It’s weird to see turkey vultures on the beach. They were really in the muck at low tide. The one on the right had a small piece of fish under his foot that he was eating.
Great egret flyby.
This kid was throwing his frisbee into the birds. Why is it so fun to watch the birds flush? Someone walked over to him and asked him to stop and explained that the birds needed their rest before they migrate for the winter. He really just didn’t know. He stopped and went back to his family.
Heading home back into Tampa right before dark, I saw the moon coming up and had to stop and take a picture.
I needed to get out of the house and go for a short walk so I headed down to Fort Desoto to walk out on the fishing pier. It was a dark and windy late morning and was threating to rain so there wasn’t a lot of people out.
The laughing gulls were driving the pelicans crazy. They would wait until the pelican had a scoop full of fish in their beaks and then try and steal one from them. Or at least catch any smaller fish that fell out of the pelican’s mouth.
A willet on the jetti.
Far down on the beach, I could see a wedding taking place. Looks like it had just ended. Good thing since it was starting to drizzle.
Kiteboarders were having fun at the other end of the park facing the Skyway bridge. I don’t often see girls kiteboarding but the one in the bottom shot was keeping up with the boys.
The rain was starting to move in so I headed home.
Sunrise at East Beach at Fort Desoto. No, I wasn’t up that early. This was in late October before the time changed so it was right before 7:30. There was a small cloud right above the bridge that kept the sun from being clear but it was still a great sky.
As I stood there watching the sun come up, I could see the frigatebirds starting to circle high up in the sky. They were coming from across the bay and then ended up right over my head.
Once the sun was up it was time to go hang out with the white pelicans.
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.
I could see the tiny white dots far out in the water when I first walked on to the beach at Fort Desoto. I knew it would take me a good 15 minutes to walk up Outback Key to get even remotely close to them (the above is taken with my 300mm and cropped up). I was hoping someone didn’t come along and spook them before I got out there or that they didn’t take off for the other side of the park.
I finally made it out to the farther area and the white pelicans were busy preening along the shallow end. I snapped a few pictures and then they started taking off.
Luckily they just flew around in a circle and landed in the water close by. They eventually made their way back to the shallow end of the spit. It was a beautiful sight, seeing them all flying around over head. Although, they were a little awkward trying to land. The white pelicans are not year round residents here. They come in the winter for a short time and the last few years they have stayed mostly hidden, hanging out in spits much farther away. There were several other photographers there this morning and I think people have coming to see the pelicans pretty regularly since they arrived.
Something about them makes them such a treat to see so close up. I guess I always think back to the comical pelican “Rufus” in the movie Dolphin Tale. I I think he stole the movie.
She doesn’t look as close as this picture makes it look but she was brave getting out there in waist deep water. I stayed on land or at least ankle deep water. I was afraid one big wave or hole would knock me over and I’d be diving for my camera (even with a tripod). The water was a little choppy this morning.
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.
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.