The rookery was hopping in late March

I made a road trip back to the bird rookery in north Tampa in late March. The noise was so loud from all of the baby birds screaming to be feed. The little spoil island in the pond was full of babies. Although this great egret above looks like he’s still flirting.

There were baby egrets from just a few days old to several weeks old.

The tricolored herons were still sitting on eggs.

This Mom was shading her baby wood storks from the sun.

This was the youngest wood stork baby I could see and it had a tiny fish in his beak.

This Mom had no rest with all of these babies.

It looks like the older baby got the big fish this time. It took him a while to get it down.

Great egrets were still bringing sticks back to the nests.

The baby muscovy ducks I had seen here weeks ago were almost grown now.

The flapping has started

It was late February and I was stopping by the neighborhood eagle’s nest every couple of days. One morning I caught the parent bringing in a fish for breakfast. Now they were just dropping off the food and letting the babies eat on their own.

At least one parent was still hanging close to the nest.

At one point an osprey flew close to the nest and the eagle was yelling at him to leave.

One of the babies was flapping his new wings and you could still see the pin feathers.

Finally, I could get a decent shot of both of the babies sitting up. The younger one seemed to sleep a lot and wasn’t flapping yet.

The kestrel couple landed on the wire nearby.

A few other birds that came by the nest was a phoebe and a brown thrasher.

I could see a red shoulder hawk far away on the other side of the field.

A great egret flies right over my head.

SkyWatch Friday

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The purple martins are back!

I had heard the purple martins were back at the Dunedin marina so one morning I drove around to the front of the marina to see if I could get some shots of them in the bird house. I also found some other birds there as well. The spotted sandpipers will be going back up north soon

Pigeons get no respect but they are pretty when the sun shines on them.

A kingfisher was hanging out on the channel marker at the entrance to the marina.

All of the usual birds were there. Green herons, great egrets and pelicans.

The purple martins were busy moving in to the martin house. It looks like most of them were in couples and had staked out their spots. Last year I found them when the babies were almost fully grown and ready to leave to I’m hoping this year I can see some young babies.

The view from the purple martin house. You can see Clearwater beach across the water. It used to be a quiet little beach area with 2 story Mom and Pop hotels but not anymore. All highrises and the traffic is terrible. Parking is $30 a day. Only the tourists go to this beach now.

BLUE MONDAY BADGE

More shots from the rookery

The great egrets were busy nesting here as well as the Seabird Sanctuary. There were¬† a lot more here though. They were mixed in with the wood storks.¬† I can barely see the eggs in the 2nd shot. I don’t think there were any babies born at this point yet.

This female anhinga was pretty with those white feathers sticking out.

I caught this anhinga couple flirting.

The cormorants and anhingas were already sitting on nests high up in the cypress tree on the spoil island. The nests were pretty close together and there was probably going to be a lot of fighting going on up there when the parents try to feed the babies.

I’ll be making several trips over to this bird rookery in north Tampa this spring. I can park on the side of the road and take a few steps and there it is so there’s not a lot of walking involved. I’ll bring my beach chair next time and spend a few more minutes here.

More shots from the bird sanctuary

I’m finally getting around to posting the additional pictures from my visit to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in late January. The wild great egrets were just starting to nest in the trees over the exhibits. They nest here since the eggs will be somewhat safe from predators and they may get a free snack.

This night heron was sleeping in the mangrove trees. It was a little chilly this morning so he had his face tucked in.

The sanctuary has tons of young night herons since the night herons also nest in the trees and they also nest over the nettings that enclose some of the injured birds. The juveniles look very different from their parents. They are funny to watch and act like clowns.

Looks like one of the injured oystercatchers has a broken wing.

The view from the observation tower at the back of the sanctuary. It’s a rare sight to see the beach so empty. It was chilly and spring break hadn’t started.

SkyWatch Friday

In the yard

I had gone to the grocery store and my neighbor texted me that the turkeys were in my front yard. When I got home they had moved 2 doors down. After putting up the stuff that needed to go in the fridge I ran out with my camera and caught this from my other neighbor’s yard. There were 4 in all but one was hiding on the front porch. They look like turkey unicorns with that small horn on their forehead. I’ve read these are called snoods and females have short ones and the males get longer ones that hang down their face during breeding season.

That lone robin has still been hanging around. One day we got a lot of rain and a small pond formed across the fairway. That afternoon it was full of robins. After the robins left that lone one was still hanging around.

The Carolina wren was looking for nesting material.

In mid-February the hermit thrush was still stopping by the back yard.

This great egret had it’s green breeding face on. It may have a nest nearby.

The pine warblers were still plentiful and not shy at all.

A butterfly finally landed on the hanging lantana plant while I was out filling up the bird bath. I ran in and got my camera and it stayed on the plant for a while.

Out and about

I found a great blue heron nest in the neighborhood. It sits high up in the pine tree over a small pond. I’ll be keeping an eye for babies but I won’t see them until they are pretty big since the nest sits far back on the branch.

I’ve been stopping by the neighborhood eagle nest almost every day hoping to see a baby head pop up. This was in mid-January and at this point I wasn’t even sure there was a baby although an adult has been sitting here every time I go by. I hadn’t seen anything being fed at this point. It was still early though.

I noticed the kestrel is back. There was one hanging out around the eagle nest all last winter so I wonder if this is the same one.

It’s a few days later and I see an eagle sitting on the nest tower. I couldn’t see another one but the mate might have been laying down on the nest. A turkey vulture flew close by.

I drove by the big open field in front of the utility towers near the back of the neighborhood and I could just barely see movement on a tower far down the clearing. I got my camera out thinking it was probably an osprey on that nest. The top shot was cropped up a little and I can see there’s an eagle on the nest. When I extremely cropped it up I could see a baby big enough to be sitting up on the nest. (There were 2 babies on this nest). I can’t get any closer to this nest since it’s sitting on Duke Energy property.

I could see a red shoulder hawk sitting high up in the tower in front of the eagles.

After seeing the far away nest I turned around and saw white pelicans flying high overhead. I waited a little while hoping they would get closer since they were just circling around. They came a little closer and then took off over the trees.

A few days later I stopped by RE Olds Pier to see if any eagles were fishing along the pier but all I found was a great egret and a spotted sandpiper.

The tide was so low that you could see an old crab trap out in the water. I wonder how long this has been sitting there with all of those barnacles on it.

The vertical oyster garden ropes that are hanging off the pier were exposed and are starting to get covered with barnacles. There may be some small oysters forming on it as well. They placed them here to grow oysters since they help filter and clean the water.

SkyWatch Friday

Everyday life at the marina

I was back at the Dunedin marina in late December for a quick walk (can you tell this is one of my favorite places to walk?). That damaged abandoned boat is still stuck to the channel marker. You can see where it’s cut into the boat. It’s a great place for birds to rest and I caught a green heron sitting on it the morning I was there.

A great egret was fishing through the little hole around the floating piling. I kept seeing him sticking his head down thinking he couldn’t catch even a tiny fish that way but he sure did.

A little blue heron was creeping around the dock, also looking for fish.

There’s always a lot of pelicans around the marina.

I caught this grackle eating some kind of seeds.

I saw this osprey flying across the marina with some sticks and moss in his talons. It’s the start of nesting season for osprey so I thought he was heading to one of the 2 nests in the marina parking lot. He flew around with it for a while. Then it looks like he’s going to land on a light pole that didn’t already have a nest and I’m thinking “What is he doing?”. He did land but then took off across the marina and headed to the nest on a pole at the other end of the marina.

There’s a nest high up in a tree near the boat ramp and another nest across from it on top of a pole. There’s always a lot of osprey flying around so they guard them pretty well during nesting season.

Far out in the water I could see a dolphin coming up every few minutes. I was bummed he didn’t come close to the pier.

SkyWatch Friday

A foggy morning

Another foggy walk along the Dunedin causeway in early December. I thought the sun was going to break through when I first got there but it seemed to get foggier as the morning went on.

After my walk I pulled my camera out of the car and walked down near the edge of the water. The tide was low and there were a few shorebirds feeding or sleeping. I caught a lone marbled godwit flying in to nap with the laughing gulls.

I stopped by the marina before heading home. I could see a bright red Santa on top of a boat, really popping with color in the fog.

The usual birds (a pelican and great egret) hoping a fisherman will show up to steal his snacks.

Inspire Me Monday

Finally out with my camera

In late November I was finally out with my camera since having my shoulder surgery in early October, I could still only pick up 3lbs so I had my older smaller camera on my lightest lens. All together they were at 3.5 lbs so I was cheating a little but kept the camera in my left hand for most of the time. It felt good to be out walking around with it but I had an old 300mm lens and didn’t have much reach. I headed to the Dunedin marina for a long walk and then pulled the camera out of the car and walked around by the boats for a short while.

There were a few shorebirds at the tiny beach in front of the marina. Willets and ruddy turnstones are always there.

Something spooked these semi-palmated plovers several times.

One of the resident osprey sitting on a sailboat mast. They have a nest right in the parking lot here so I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on the babies this year.

An anhinga resting on the old abandoned boat.

A phone shot, this old sailboat got wedge up against the channel marker during Hurricane Nicole in early November and has been stuck there ever since. It’s a great place for the birds to rest.

A great egret posing nicely.

Pelicans around the marina.

A manatee was right up against the sea wall. This was taken with my phone. The shadows of the railing were a little tough though.

I was on the way home and stopped at a red light when I saw a ton of white pelicans flying high coming towards me. I pulled over into the shopping center and was able to snap the above. This was only a small portion of them. There were at least 4 more of these cruising around the area. It was amazing to watch them swooping around and cruising.