Our first day in Colorado

All above were taken from our balcony at our hotel in Colorado Springs. As I was taking a picture of the mountain with the fog rolling in a magpie flew on to the balcony above us. I leaned over to get a blurry shot of him with a big bug. I then realized the trees near us also had magpies in them. This was my first timing seeing these. They are in the crow family but are much prettier than our fish crows back home.

I took a quick walk around the property before we headed out for the day and saw all of the above.

I had read that there was lots of wildlife on the hotel property but when I got to the lake there were the same ole birds I see at home. I thought “Really, I flew halfway across the country to see gulls, mallards and cormorants?” I get those in my backyard at home. But I did see a few different things over the week.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Looking for a bird

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I spent an early Saturday morning looking for a smooth billed ani. I eventually found it but while I was looking around the crazy Nanday parakeets came flying into a tree near the area. I could hearing them screaming as they were flying in from across the field.

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I walked over near the tree and these three above were busy preening each other. I guess three’s not a crowd.

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Some of theme were hanging around.

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Off in the distance I could see birds out on a sandbar.

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The field near the parakeets were full of cactus.

More on the smooth billed ani later.

SkyWatch Friday

Fighting over food

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You would think these guys never get fed. People around Lake Morton in central Florida come to feed the ducks and birds here every day.  On the weekends, there are people all around the lake feeding them. Someone pulls out one slice of bread and the white ibis, coots and gulls come flying over and fight over every scrap. A lot of the regulars to the lake do feed them corn or bird seed instead of bread which is much better for the animals.  The white ibis are pretty harmless and aren’t very aggressive. It’s the geese that you need to watch out for. They will attack if you don’t give them food. Once before I was taking a picture of a swan and felt a hard banging on my foot. I looked down to see a goose wanting food. I usually stay far away from those guys.

Looking for a new gull.

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“Excuse me, are you guys Franklin’s gulls?” I said to these two. One gull said “Almost. Franklin’s gulls have a white chest and more black on their head.” The other gull said “And they have a little shorter beak than we do.” “Yea, we’re just plain ole laughing gulls that haven’t grown up yet.”

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“Excuse me, can you stop preening so I can see if you’re a Franklin gull” I said. He said “I’m not one either lady.”

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I kept looking in the big flock of birds on the beach. “Hey, you look different” I said to this one. He was half asleep.

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“Hey Franklin gull, wake up. This lady’s been looking for you” said the laughing gull.

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“Another fan. How boring.” said the Franklin gull.

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“Okay lady, get your picture.”

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I said “Can’t you at least stand up for a minute?” He said “Nope, I’m going back to sleep.”

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At least the big herring gull stood up for me.

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This juvenile herring gull was picking at a dead fish.

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“Don’t take my breakfast, lady.”

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A ring billed gull flies overhead.

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Not a gull but a dowitcher. There were a lot of these on the beach.

It was a foggy Saturday morning. I went down to Fort De Soto because I heard there was a summer tanager and a few western kingbirds hanging around the parking lot area near the fishing pier. I got down to the park around 8:30am and there were already a lot of birders looking for both birds. No sighting at that point.  We all walked around for at least an hour with no luck so I decided to run over to the beach and see if by miracle the Franklin’s gull was there. This was my 4th time looking for that silly gull. I didn’t see him anywhere near the pier. I walked back over to the wooded area where the other birds were seen and the tanager had just been sighted (more on that one later). We were all standing there staring up in trees when someone said they had just seen the Franklin but he was much farther down the beach. After taking a handful of pictures of the tanager, I drove down to the other end of the beach and walked around looking for him. This time I got lucky. A huge flock of gulls were sleeping together and there he was with his dark head. It was nice that the sun came out for a second right when I saw him. By then it was lunchtime so I snapped a bunch of pictures and headed home.

Birds and birders at Fort Desoto

The resident long billed curlew was prancing around in front of a large group of birders. He’s almost too tame. He was walking so close to people that they were backing up to take pictures of him

Piping plover staring at something.

An osprey flew close to this huge flock of birds and spooked them into flying around. It was mostly laughing gulls, skimmers, royal terns and sandwich terns. I know these birds need their rest but it was a nice sight to see.

A small sampling of the large flocks of birds resting on beach. I didn’t notice until I got home and cropped the shot that I caught a fish jumping up in the back of the picture.

Just a few of the birders that were there on a recent Saturday morning. They were enjoying the big group of birds resting on the low tide spit in the north beach lagoon.

The above could be: a) male yellow warbler (common here lately and has the brown stripes on the chest.), b) Cape May warbler (one was sighted minutes earlier, adult male winter has the same colors) or c)something totally different.  Several seasoned birders there had different opinions on what this was.

I was told this was a first year male common yellowthroat warbler.

This was another one that was with the one above. I think both are same.

I almost didn’t go. I had been to Fort Desoto several weeks in a row with little luck. I decided to try one last time for that jaeger and I had several friends that would be there on an audubon walk. I headed first to the gulf fishing pier and found the jeager pretty quick. After taking a few hundred shots of it, I headed to the woods to catch up with the group.  The woods didn’t have a large assortment of little birds. Just the few above. Then we headed up to the north beach marsh where tons of birds were resting. It turned out to be a beautiful morning even though I didn’t get too many migrating birds.

Check out more pictures at Our World Tuesday Our World Tuesday Graphic

Also, check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention  for

Fort Desoto birds and a manatee nose

Sanderlings running around. Soon they’ll be almost all white once they lose those breeding feathers.

Waiting to grab some bait fish.

This gull grabbed a fish off of a fishing line. The guy who owned the line was not happy. It was too big for the gull to carry.

Another gull goes for it but couldn’t fly off with it. Finally, an osprey flew down and grabbed it so fast I didn’t even get a shot of it.

The same guy cut up a squid into three pieces to use for bait. He left it on the post and  turned his back for a few minutes and three gulls took off with it. I caught the last gull grabbing the last piece. I wanted to ask him if it was his first time on a fishing pier. He sure acted like it. You don’t leave bait uncovered around here.

Juvenile laughing gull still begging for food. I would think at this stage he should be getting his own fish.

I briefly saw a manatee swimming away from the pier. There’s been a lot of manatees hanging around the gulf fishing pier at Fort Desoto this summer.

Just a few shots from a hot walk on the fishing pier.

Camera Critters