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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The Fort Desoto fishing pier

I was back out at the fishing pier at Fort Desoto in late April. I was still trying to find some spring migrate birds with still no luck. So instead of going home empy handed, I headed over to the fishing pier to walk around (it’s a long pier). There’s always a good breeze and usually lots to see.  A ring billed gull sitting on top of the showers welcomed me.

Lots of hanky panky going on with the laughing gulls on the beach next to the pier. I’d tell them to get a room but I was basically in their “room”.

The pair of female mergansers were still hanging around. Feels like it’s late for them to be here. Shouldn’t they have gone north for the summer already?

The opsrey were nesting all over the park including on top of the old fort smokestack near the pier.

Some were still working on nests that sits right on the trail. She was going to get tired of yelling at every person that walks by.

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Spring migration is becoming a bust

I was heading down to Fort Desoto in mid-April hoping to see some migrating songbirds as they stop over for a rest before heading north for the summer. It had rained days earlier and the day after the rain had some good fall out but I had to work that day. There might have been some stragglers still hanging out so I was hopeful. On the way into the park I saw some frigatebirds cruising along a pond so I pulled over and shot these as they kept going.

After walking around the usual spots for the birds for several hours, this is what I got. A lone bright yellow house finch was hanging around the bird feeder at the ranger’s house. I usually only see red house finches so the yellow threw me off.

I also found a black and white warbler but those are pretty common here.

I could at least enjoy the view as I was walking around. Not a bad spot to spend the morning out.

All of these dead trees are invasive Australian pine trees so the park killed them off to return the park to it’s natural state. It’s a tough pill to swallow when these trees use to be filled with migrating birds for so many years. I’m not sure if that is why we’ve seen less birds in the park for the last two years.

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Saturday morning at Fort Desoto

The red breasted mergansers were still swimming around the pier in early April at Fort Desoto Park.

I found the whimbrels again. This time they were hunting for food around the stone edges near the fort. The tide was low and they were picking off some type of black bug.

A great blue heron standing on the roof at the end of the fishing pier.

This ruddy turnstone had a bite and I realized he was also missing a foot.

A ruddy and a laughing gull feeding on the beach under the pier.

Watching the ibis fly by on a perfect Saturday morning.

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“Here comes the sun”

It wasn’t dark but the sun had not come up when I arrived at the beach at Fort Desoto in late March. The time had just recently changed and it was still dark after 7am so it wasn’t that early. Still, I was all alone on the beach with the exception of a great blue heron.

After a few minutes the sun was slowly starting come up over the bridge and the birds started to fly around.

Then minutes later it rose quickly and the pelicans were diving in the water for fish.

I turned around to head out to the other side of the park to look for birds and noticed the flag at half staff over the palm trees.

Good thing I had my shoes on. The beach had a lot of these spiky sea urchins as the tide was coming back in.

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Guess what’s for breakfast

Mom was digging around in the nest early one morning in February and pulled up a rat. I’m going to be repetitive about using rat poison. Owls love rats. When people use rat poison the rats don’t die right away. They wander off and the owls pick them up and eat them. Owls can easily die from a rat that has eaten rat poison.  You don’t need to use it. The owls (eagles and hawks as well) will take care of the rats.

I spent a good part of the morning waiting for the baby owls to wake up and then  watching Mom taking turns feeding the babies.  Doesn’t that look yummy!?!  It was an overcast day, I was using my long lens and these are extremely cropped up so they aren’t quite as clear as I would have liked. But that’s okay. I’d rather be standing half way across the beach than too close. I didn’t make it back out later to see these little ones completely grown. On a sad circle of life note, I heard that one went missing and a team of people spent all morning looking for it. They think it may have fallen during the night. The area has a lot of coyotes that we don’t see during the day so one of them or an eagle could have gotten it.

The owls at Fort Desoto

Mom standing watch over her babies.

Meanwhile, the babies are acting cute with those curious eyes. Always looking around at the sounds and birds flying by.

Mom moved over to a tree nearby for a while.

Then back to the nest to sit for while before feeding the kids. You could see both sides of the nest since it sits between a trail through the woods and the beach. We were running back and forth trying to get the best shots while the sun was going in and out. I think this is when I got my poison ivy on my ankles. Not paying attention and running around in the small wooded area where the owls nest. One ankle was pretty bad and my foot was so swollen I couldn’t get a shoe on for almost two weeks. That’ll teach me. After 13 years of doing this I’ve been pretty lucky with not getting it before now. Of course now I’m checking everywhere I step or walk.

The baby should have been excited since he was about to be fed but instead he was yawning. Mom was digging around on the nest for something good she had hidden in there. More to come on what that was.

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A chilly morning at Fort Desoto

“I caught one this big” said the osprey as he landed on his nest.

Actually, he was bringing in sticks to spruce up the nest.

It’s amazing what you see when you are standing around waiting for baby birds to wake up. This Prairie warbler flew right in front of me.

Turning around, the coast guard was sitting right off the beach.

I eventually got tired of waiting for the baby birds to wake up and headed over to North beach to see what was over there (I don’t have a lot of attention span and was also trying to get some exercise so I needed to keep walking). All of the usual birds were there.

On the fishing pier, Harry the hybrid (great blue heron x great egret) was having a scratch.

It was a beautiful morning in late February.

Not many people out early in the morning (just us photogs) and it was a little chilly.

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