My first white winged scoter – Skywatch Friday

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After two trips to the little lagoon on the Tampa side of Gandy bridge, I finally saw the white-winged scoter. It’s either a female or juvenile. She’s been there for a while, maybe two months. She was sitting on the little sand bar far out in the lagoon.

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She got up and walked around for a few minutes. These are extremely cropped and it was raining but hey, at least I can finally add this duck to my list.

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I’m not sure what was in this spot many years ago. The lagoon has a concrete wall around it that is falling apart in some places.

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The sun was going down quick and the rain had stopped even though it looked like it would start up again.

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The scoter got in the water and floated around. She was not going to let me get close.

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The shallow area was full of live conch shells.

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Taken with my iphone, a view of the bay from this small park.

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Last shot before dark.

After a week of pouring rain, I stopped by the tiny park and saw the white-winged scoter. It’s a rare sighting for the Tampa bay area. Did she get lost during spring migration? She didn’t look injured. Will she leave and go south for winter? Everyone here is wondering. It was only a drizzle while I was there but it kept others away so I had the whole place to myself. I should stop here more often after work but the bugs were terrible. Worse than the other parks I walk at after work. Maybe in the winter they won’t be so bad.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

Spoony and friends on Gandy bridge

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After stopping on Gandy beach to see what shorebirds where there, I stopped on the Tampa side of Gandy bridge to see if I could find the white-winged scoter that had been hanging around there for a few weeks. I found the scoter but he was far away. The above spoonbill however, was right in front of me.

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At first he took notice of  me but I sat down on the tiny beach in front of him and watched. After a minute he continued on with his feeding. He seemed very focused.

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Every once in a while he would stop and look over at me to make sure I hadn’t moved.

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He kept eating for a while.

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At one point he was walking closer to me.

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The above tricolored heron was also feeding in the same area.

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A little blue heron flies in front of me.

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A reddish egret was also hanging around.

Twice before I had stopped at this little spot in south Tampa to look for the white winged scoter. I was planning to stop there again every night on the first week back from my trip to Atlanta. The weather had other plans. It rained every night after work starting on Monday and by Friday night I was determined to go even in the rain. It started pouring by 5pm but by the time I left work around 6pm it was a light sprinkle. When I got to the tiny park, there was not another soul around. Everyone else was sitting in traffic in the drizzle. I guess that’s why there were quite a few birds there. Usually there are a few people wading and kayaking in that area. I did manage to see the scoter (more on it later).

Camera Critters

How long does it take to swallow a fish?!?

Right before I left the boat ramp at Gandy bridge, a boater walked over to the sea wall and threw out a fish.  About 20 pelicans all dove in and tried to get the fish. It was pelican chaos for a few seconds. At first I couldn’t tell which one got the prize but then I noticed a lone pelican with a tail hanging out of his pouch. I thought that was it and he’d swallow it and be done in a few seconds.

I don’t know whether he was just savoring what could have been his last meal for the night since the sun was going down fast or whether it was just too big for him to swallow. He kept flipping it around in his pouch.

He had it sitting in his pouch for a while and kept flapping. Maybe he was waiting for  the fish to die first.

Then another pelican flew over to him. Was he going to try to steal it? That big fish was bulging out of his pouch.

The pelican flew away from the other one and continued to float by himself for a few minutes. He still had it in his pouch.

Now he was flapping hard and trying to swallow it.

Finally, just as the sun was setting, a big gulp!

As I was snapping pictures, the fisherman said “You should come here on the weekends. The place is full of people tossing fish out and the pelicans go crazy. You’d get a lot of pictures then.” Sounds great but I know feeding pelicans is not good. They get too use to people and get caught in fishing wire and hooks, etc. I didn’t even ask him why he threw back that one fish. It looked like a big fish.