Storms were coming on a Saturday morning in mid-February. I still had to get out so I headed down to Fort Desoto and brave the weather (to really look for some owls). The clouds were starting to roll in when I stopped at the bay fishing pier. The wind was blowing so hard that there were no one out fishing. Walking halfway out I saw a common loon all alone. I was hoping he would get closer but he stayed pretty far out.
A great blue heron flying in and landing in front of me.
A cormorant sitting in front of the bridge.
White ibis fly by in front of the clouds.
I headed up to north beach to look for shorebirds but only kiteboarders were there. The sun was trying to peak out but it didn’t for long.
In the other direction, a kite surfer was struggling to stay up.
Back at the gulf pier, the storms were coming in from the south and it started to sprinkle so I pulled my umbrella out of my backpack and walked around a little while longer before heading home in the rain. Even on a dark cloudy day this is a magically place (unless you are just looking to get tan).
My first common loon of the season. He was floating all alone far off the fishing pier.
I was surprised to see manatees at the fishing pier. Usually this time of year they all head over to the electricity plant to swim in the warm water around the plant. Since the weather here has still been warm, I guess they are hanging around longer. There were at least 6 manatees at the fishing pier.
The trees around the parking lot were full of starlings. They were very loud.
More pelican fun. They have such amazing color on their faces. With that pink and blue around the eyes and bright orange beaks.
He looked happy with his fish part.
This one is a juvenile. Maybe not a year old and hasn’t got his color yet.
Another one enjoying his prize.
Just a few more things I saw at the Safety Harbor fishing pier.
My first common loon. I’ve been seeing these guys floating out in the bay from very far away but I wasn’t sure if they were really loons. They just looked like little black blobs floating. As I was driving on the access road along the causeway, looking for the long tailed duck, I saw this guy floating close to the causeway. It was the first time I had seen one that close. Of course, I took this picture right into the sun but I was excited to see a new bird.
Early on Saturday morning, right after I saw the loon, I came across this group of cormorants floating together out in the bay. At first glance, I thought it was a big log or something floating along. Then when I held my camera up and zoomed in I realized it was a flock of birds. They seemed to be in a hurry swimming across the bay.
Still looking for the long tailed duck, I see this duck swimming alone in the waves. I can’t tell what it is all curled up like that.
She looks up! It’s a female lesser scaup. She was all alone.
Finally, after work I find the long tailed duck. I started seeing posts on the Florida Bird Brains forum about this rare duck around 2/21. It took me a couple of days to get out there and two trips to find it. It was very far out when I first got there and could barely see it. I looked it up before I headed out so I would know what to look for. At first I thought I would not be able to even get a remote picture of it but then it took off and started flying towards the causeway. He headed west of me so the above it still very far away and heavily cropped. It was a lifer for me and I may not ever see one of these again so I kept this one. I’m going to try to look for it again though.
It started to get dark so after seeing the long tailed duck I head home. The above view was in my rear view mirror so I pulled off on the access road and snapped a few shots of the sun going down. This will be my view home from work until the time changes.