Sand Key Park

Least terns were just starting to mate on the beach at Sand Key Park in late June.

A crazed looking juvenile mockingbird was also on the beach.

On osprey was guarding the jetti with his fish.

A small storm was moving in across the beach.  The tourist pirate ship started to head out into the gulf but then turned around and came back into the bay. That trip must have gotten cut short. It started to sprinkle as I walked back down the beach to my car but then the sun came out just as fast.

I think it was going to end up being a perfect day after the morning storms moved through. I had stopped by the park to see if the least terns were nesting yet. They were there but none of them were sitting on eggs yet. People were starting to come out to the beach once the sun came out. It was time for me to go home and have lunch.

SkyWatch Friday

A baby and a common loon.

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Lots of flirting still going on at the least tern nesting site on the beach.  The males bring their girlfriends a fish instead of roses.  There was only one baby but many adults still sitting on eggs. This is a tough area that they picked to nest in. Lots of crows and crabs trying to get to the babies and the eggs. That’s why it’s important the parents don’t get scared away. The area is roped off so people don’t go walking through there. The babies and eggs blend in so well, if someone was walking through with chairs, towels, coolers, etc, they would not see them.

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A ghost crab heading into the roped off area.

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A snowy egret was creeping along the shoreline.

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I saw a rare common loon swimming out in the gulf. I thought he should still be up north until fall. We usually don’t see these guys until late October.

Stuff at Fort Desoto in late July.

On the side of the road

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I had heard there were a few avocets in a field near Cockroach Bay. Since I still haven’t seen these birds, I figured I would drive the almost hour trip to try to find them. The field was covered with thousands of birds. There was only access to view the field on one side which faces directly into the sun. The rest of the field was fenced off. I looked for an hour and did not find the avocets. Most of the birds were least terns with a few sanderlings, plovers and starlings thrown in. Oh well, maybe one day.

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I did see a belted kingfisher flying over a lake off in the distance.

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This guy was sitting on the side of the road. I’m not sure if he was checking out a snack. He eventually flew off. I think this is a juvenile red shoulder hawk.

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I was leaving the area to head back to town and saw a pair of sandhill cranes on the side of the road. Of course, I pull over and snapped a few pictures.

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I love their “heart” heads.

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Cows were chewing near the side of the road. I pulled off hoping to get the “cattle egret sitting on the back of the cow” shot. Not this time.

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Another cow got curious and came close to the fence. He started to creep me out a little and I was going to jump back in my car but he turned around.

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A brown cow farther back looked up with grass hanging out of his mouth.

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#47 also had grass hanging out of his mouth.

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You know it’s a slow day when I get excited about taking pictures of cows.

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Heading home, I had to drive back over the Sunshine Skyway bridge. A quick stop at the rest area and I was home in less than an hour.

Linking up to Saturday’s Critters