A quiet morning out.

It was a gorgeous morning to be out on the beach in early April.

Far out in the water I could see a willet with a snack.

Terns were cruising by.

Laughing gulls were pairing up.

The rare kittiwake was still on the pier, a week later than when we first found him.

I still kept seeing the same warblers on the trails, a hooded and a black and white. I kept telling myself it was still early for migration here.

After a quiet morning at Fort Desoto Park I headed home but not before stopping by Possum Branch Preserve for a quick walk. Two red shoulder hawks were sitting on the big dead snag outside of the preserve. I guess the hawks are pairing up as well.

A green heron trying to hide in the marsh.

It was pretty quiet at this park as well. I started taking pictures of butterflies since they are starting to be more plentiful. At least I got a good walk in before heading home for lunch.

Inspire Me Monday

A lot of flirting going on.

The usual shore birds were at the fishing pier in early April. There was a large variety of them hanging out together including those large ring billed gulls in the middle. They make the other birds seem so small.

There were a lot of royal terns on the beach. The two above with the orange beaks looked like they were flirting. They were standing at attention among the sandwich terns, common terns and willets.

They were definitely flirting. Walking back and forth together, almost like slow dancing. Their little black toupees were standing up.

Then we knew for sure they were flirting. The poor couple didn’t have any privacy although the willets weren’t really paying attention. It looked more like a game of leap frog than actual mating though.

They danced around again for a while as that kittiwake was keeping an eye on us.

They tried again but I don’t think she was really in the mood.

As I was leaving I noticed the crowd had thinned out. Everyone was here to see the kittiwake but there was so much more going on.

Early spring migration at Fort Desoto

It was a beautiful morning when I got to Fort Desoto Park in early April. I stopped by the East Beach turnaround to get a shot of the sun coming up over the bay. I had high hopes for seeing some migrating birds that has stopped by but it was still a little too early for spring migration. Last April we had a really slow migration with hardly any birds stopping by so I’m hoping we don’t have a repeat.

A pileated woodpecker was the first bird I saw, high up in a tree.

A hooded warbler and a black and white warbler with a snack. Normally I would be excited but I had  just seen both of these in my backyard.

There were at least 3 prothonotary warblers in a big bush in front of the water fountain being very cooperative. It was the only other migrating bird we saw that morning. There were a lot of people out looking. Again, it was still early in the month.

An opsrey was eating a fish in the tree behind the prothonotary warbler. I had to take a shot before heading to the gulf fishing pier for a quick walk before heading home.

I got to the fishing pier and saw the reddish egret that has the white wings fly by.

There were a lot of birds at the little beach next to the fishing pier. The usual gulls, terns and oystercatchers.  But there was something else that looked different.

A rare kittiwake was sitting there with the other birds. After a while I realized a ton of people were at the pier taking pictures of him as well. This is only my 2nd kittiwake sighting. Back in 2013 I was able to see the immature one at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing pier. I had heard there was one seen in 2017 and this was the 3rd sighting recorded in Pinellas county ever. People were phoning and texting friends and by noon a big crowd had formed.  Everyone gave him space and stayed off the beach area. They even stopped tourists from walking through the area. Twice he took off and flew down the pier and came back on the beach.

Laughing gulls were fighting over stolen bait fish (the one on the left has one in his beak).

A boat cruises by the lighthouse on Egmont Key.

SkyWatch Friday

A new bird at the Sunshine Skyway fishing pier


My 2nd trip to the Sunshine Skyway fishing pier to look for the rare kittiwake was successful. I parked my car near the end of the pier (you can drive on this pier since it used to be the old bridge) and got out of my car thinking I was going to spend hours looking at every bird flying by for it. Well, it was sitting right outside my car. I took this from my car window.


He had a friend, the royal tern, standing next to him.


Many birds were on the pier even though it was a windy cold morning.


After watching him for a few minutes, he stood up. By now several other photogs were standing there taking his picture.


He flew off.


Snowy egrets were hitching a ride on a fishing boat.


Sleepy pelican.

The rare kittiwake sighting in central Florida comes at a price. Because the two birds (yes, there were two at first) picked a busy fishing pier, one of them got caught in a fish hook and sinker and died about a week after they arrived. A birder happened to be on the pier and saw the rare birds and posted it on a bird forum. Hoards of birders came from all over the state to see the birds. Several people saw the bird swallow the sinker and get hooked and posted the event on the bird forum. Not to mention all of the hooked pelicans, loons, gulls and terns that they saw. Because the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is not taking in injured birds  due to financial issues, they did not respond to the numerous phone calls they got. A new bird rescue group  is starting up and hopefully they will be able to help save many of the injured birds there. More on injured loons later.

An article about the recent kittiwake death and all of the injured birds at fishing pier from The Tampa Bay Times can be found here.

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