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.

 

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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North Shore Park

The tiny beach at North Shore Park, near downtown St. Petersburg was not as welcoming as these pictures look. They had just raked the beach of the dead fish from red tide but the fish were still floating up on the beach. At least the smell wasn’t bad and it was such a beautiful Saturday morning. The storms were coming in a little early since this was right before lunch.

The resident hybrid great egret/great blue heron was lurking around, trying to find a live fish to eat. Most of the birds don’t eat the dead fish but a few do and they get sick. The bird rescues are all full of sick fish from the red tide.

I stopped at Crescent Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk to look for otters. No luck on the otters but I did see the above in the vegetation in the lake. A juvenile little blue heron, a great blue heron, a blue jay, a snowy egret and a green heron.

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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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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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Until next winter

High up in a tree, a young red shoulder hawk has the best view.

An osprey in a tree right over the trail was trying to eat his fish in peace but there was a steady stream of people walking by and he stopped to yell at each one.

Wood storks cruise by as I headed down the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in early May.

A typical Florida shot of a great blue heron.

Herons were everywhere and constantly cruising by. The one in the second shot flew way to close. I almost cut him off.

Dragonflies were everywhere as it was getting warmer.

Another typical Florida shot.

This plant was growing all across the marsh. I think this is water hemlock.

Moss covered oak trees lead the way back to the car. This was my last trip to Circle B until the weather cools off. It’s way to hot to be out here without a breeze. Both of the main trails are closed for the summer due to the alligators nesting on the trails so I’ll wait until the fall when the winter birds start to arrive again.

SkyWatch Friday

Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Swamp sparrows were hiding in the bushes in early April.

What a mouthful!

House wrens usually stay hidden but this one popped out for a minute.

You can always find a lot of green herons at Circle B Bar Reserve.

This kingfisher sat still for about 30 seconds and I was able to catch this.

A goldfinch was feeding in the wild grass near the nature center.

Typical shot of the great blue heron on top of a tree along the trail.

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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A new bird in my backyard

My neighbors planted payaya trees on the side of the house and this little phoebe has been hanging out on the fence in front of the trees. I can see him when I’m working in the back bedroom (which for now is my “work from home” room). One day I got up and grabbed my camera and shot the above through the window. He’s gone for the summer now so I won’t see him again until September or October.

Even though cardinals are common, I don’t see them often at my feeder.

A red bellied woodpecker has been coming to the feeder every day. He’s picking out the peanuts. You can see his red belly in the first picture.

For several weeks we had a grumpy looking great blue heron on our dock or our neighbor’s dock.

This duck couple stops by every couple of days. They nap in our backyard.

A new bird to the backyard. I went outside to put food in the feeder early one morning in February and noticed a small bird sitting on my neighbor’s sailboat mast. Once in a while we get an osprey or red shoulder hawk sitting up there but this bird was much smaller. I realized it was a kestrel and ran inside and grabbed my camera and walked out on the dock and he was still sitting there while I took his picture. Then a crow came by and chased him off. I don’t see kestrels often, usually at Fort Desoto so I was surprised to see him here.

Starlings took over our tree right before dark.

Things in the backyard including some weird fungus growing in our mulch after a long rain. We often get small mushrooms in the grass after a rain but this orange thing was a first. Being the nerd that I am, I looked it up and it’s a columned stinkhorn.  It’s common in Florida in mulch beds and it’s suppose to smell horrible if you break it.  Luckily I left it there and it’s gone now. I wonder if an animal ate it.

I thought this was a new bird

No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one.  I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it.  All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.

The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.

A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.

Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.

A little blue heron found a worm in the water.

Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.

He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).

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