A great morning for beautiful birds

I headed down to Fort Desoto at the end of August not expecting much. As I headed out to the north beach I was greeted by a few spoonbills. I rarely see them here and in fact it was probably last fall when they were in the same spot. I wonder if these are the same ones that have stopped by for a rest.

I found a few red knots hanging out with one of the resident reddish egrets.

A red knot still in breeding feathers.

The best part of the morning was seeing an uncommon avocet. It wasn’t really a surprise though. I had heard 2 were here but wasn’t counting on actually finding it so it was a bonus to walk up on it. I didn’t see the other one although it may have been hiding in the sanctuary close by. There were 3 that hung out here last fall and I was able to catch those on 2 visits.

A young skimmer fluffing up his feathers.

A dunk and a catch.

Looking over through the sea oats over to Egmont Key in the distance. If you look close in the right hand side, you can see an osprey sitting on a branch on the beach.

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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.

 

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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The bird rookery

Catching a little blue heron lift off.

Snowy egrets were showing off.

Baby great egrets were screaming for Mom to feed them.

The sky over the Tampa rookery was busy in early April. It was like standing at the airport during the holidays watching the planes take off.

The cormarants and anhingas are usually high up in the trees but I saw this anhinga sitting on a nest low on the other side of the rookery.

There were many other birds at the rookery besides the usual egrets and herons. A night heron, a female red winged blackbird and a catbird were also sighted. I was excited to see the glossy ibis here in the bottom picture but it looked like the couple was working on a nest on the backside of the rookery so seeing little glossy babies is a slim chance.

Late day walk at Fort Desoto

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.

Shorebirds at the beach

These birds are not social distancing even outside. There were so many crammed into this tiny spit at low tide. Mostly terns and gulls in the front but all of the brown in the far back were red knots.

There were lots of different shorebirds early in November at Fort Desoto. Several times something spooked them and most of them took off.

I turned around and saw these marbled godwits fighting.

Willets and dowitchers on the shoreline on Outback Key.

A great egret came in for a landing right in front of me.

One of my favorite spots at the north beach.

A storm was moving in so it was time to go home.

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A drive along the lake

Everyone was eating breakfast at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in late October.

A great blue heron off in the distance.

A young purple gallinule showing off his big feet.

A kingfisher sitting still. I took this from the car since I knew the second I opened that door he would be gone.

A tricolored heron guarding the sign.

A few of the smaller gators along the drive. I never seem to see the really big ones there.

More along the drive. I was having hip pain in late October so I decided to head over to the wildlife drive in Apopka and stay off me feet for a while. I ended up with hip bursitis which has slowed me down for a while in early November. It was taking forever to heal since I can’t seem to sit still very long.

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Rush hour traffic on the bay

Things were quiet in the area in late October. Fall migration was pretty slow but I still wanted to get out for a walk so I headed to North Shore park that sits on the bay near downtown St. Pete.

It looked like rush hour traffic far out in the bay with all of the sailboats. People were also kayaking and wind surfing. It was still warm out so the water was the place to be.

I had a nice walk along the water before heading home for lunch.

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Little birds on the beach

A perfect morning out at Fort Desoto wouldn’t be complete without seeing an oystercatcher. This one with the red band is a regular at the park. Someone out on the sandbar walked by and he came flying right by me.

A sandwich tern making a landing.

A  tiny snowy plover on the exposed sand.

Piping plovers have orange legs.

A great egret cruising by.

A young red knot.

Lots of different shorebirds at Fort Desoto in early October.

The last of the baby egrets

One of the last nests with young ones. Driving Mom crazy begging for food.

One last trip to the bird rookery in north Tampa in June and there were still a lot of babies. Most of the great egrets babies were almost fully grown but there were still a few smaller ones getting fed by the parents. They look so clean and white against the green bushes, almost like marshmallows with legs. It’s amazing none of the eyes get poked out when the parents are trying to feed them.

 

In these last two shots, you can see fish parts coming down the parent’s beak and into the baby’s beak. Yummy regurgitated fish for lunch!