Hanging with a crabby curlew


I was standing on the beach taking pictures of a ruddy turnstone when the long-billed curlew flew right in front of me.


I never get this lucky. He was looking at me like “I’m ready for my photo shoot.”


He already had sand all the way up his beak so he’s been feeding.


I sat down on the sand and watched him dig.


Success.  A little sandy crab came out of the hole.


After swallowing that one, he continued to dig.


This one he flipped up in the air like popcorn shrimp.


Still digging. What a pig!


He seemed to want to show me this one up close. He started walking toward me with it in his beak.


He flipped it up to swallow it. After this crab, he started wandering off down the beach so I left him to his feeding.


This ruddy turnstone wanted to get in on the crab action as well. He walked right in front of me showing off his prize.

Another Saturday morning on Fort Desoto beach.

Shorebirds at Fort Desoto


Willet in the early morning sun.


Willet (in breeding feathers) eating what looks like is a shrimp.


The long billed curlew has been out every morning making the rounds for a couple of months now. I followed him for a half an hour hoping he would dig up a crab but no luck.


Black bellied plover hopping off to somewhere.


Marbled godwits stopping their feeding to give me a glance.


Laughing gull flying in to join the crowd.


“Hey, where is everybody going?”


A bald eagle flying around spooked the shorebirds.


No one out at the beach this early in the morning.

Just a few shorebirds hanging around Fort Desoto on an early Saturday morning.

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Fort Desoto on a sunny weekend in January


Common tern, I think. It’s a forster’s tern (Big thanks to Seagull Steve for ID). His beak is in between summer and winter color and I think that’s what confused me. Forsters are fairly rare in my neighborhood so this is even better.


A few willets trying to sleep.


How do they sleep balancing on one leg? You would think they would sit down on the sand.  They try to sleep right on the shoreline and there’s always people walking up and down disturbing them.


Long billed curlew with a crab. I haven’t seen him in a long time. He was behind the sanctuary ropes so this is highly cropped.


Another trip to Fort Desoto to check on Mom owl. The photogs call her Winky since she always has one eye half closed.


Trying to catch the big stingray swimming around the pier. It was pretty close to shore. That’s why they tell you to do the “stingray shuffle”. So the stingrays will scoot away when you shuffle your feet in the water. They don’t stick around when there is movement in the water. After seeing two grown men turn blue and tear up from the pain of being stabbed by one, I really do the shuffle when I’m walking in the water.

Mid January and it was beautiful and sunny outside. Can’t beat living in Florida in the winter. Although, I think I had a lightweight jacket on that morning. It’s nice to wear a long sleeve tshirt every once in a while.  Just a few things I saw on my morning walk around Fort Desoto.

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Eating crabs

“Here comes some more photographers. I guess I should put on a show for them. I am a little hungry anyway.”

“Wait, don’t take the shot. I’m choking here.”

“Got another one. This is way too easy.”

“I feel like an owl twisting my head this way.”

“Yummy, I wish I had some butter for these crab legs.”

“Down the hatch”

“Hey, what about me? I got a crab too.” says the tiny Wilson’s plover.

The long billed curlews at the North Beach sanctuary at Fort Desoto have a reputation for being very accommodating if they’re out in front of the ropes. A large part of this section of the beach is roped off to allow the shorebirds to rest and nest. Sometimes they wander out of the roped off area to feed in the lagoon area and you can see them a little closer. We all sat down on the sand and spent a half hour watching this curlew dig for crabs right in front of us. He wandered pretty close to where we sitting for a while.  He must have pulled up 10 crabs while we sat there. Eventually, he headed over to the other side of the lagoon. I wonder if the crabs pinch the inside of the curlew as it goes down. Those shorebirds must have some tough insides.