Backyard dinner – Skywatch Friday

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I saw the above eastern phoebe sitting on my neighbor’s fence and went out the side door to see if I could get a shot from the side of the house. They are usually pretty skittish but this one let me get the above shot.

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I walked out on the dock and a laughing gull flew over my head.

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I was about to go back in the house when I saw the above standing in my neighbor’s yard.

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All of a sudden the cooper’s hawk flew into a low branch with a squirrel in his foot.

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A crow flew close by and hawk was yelling at him to stay away.

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Then he started to chow down. Poor squirrel.

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He would take a bite and then look around. He started staring at me so I went inside. I didn’t want to watch him finish off that poor squirrel.

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Later that night the sky had beautiful pink and orange clouds so I went outside and took the above in the backyard.

This was the first time I have seen a cooper’s hawk in our neighborhood. We have a lot of red shoulder hawks flying around. I probably wouldn’t have seen him if I hadn’t gone out to take a picture of the phoebe.

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A few more from spring migration

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I was told this is a Tennessee Warbler. It looks like it from my Stokes Birding Guide.

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If so, it’s a lifer for me.

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White eyed vireo singing in the morning.

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He was chirping away.

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This was my last indigo bunting sighting of the season. These were taken in mid-April.

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I saw this guy for a flash of a second so this was all I got. It was the only time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder during all of those trips to the park this spring.

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Swallowtail on the flowers.

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This guy was jumping around while we were trying to take pictures of the bunting.

This has been a long drawn out migration season. Last spring there were tons of birds in two weekends and then nothing.  This spring it’s been a small handful of birds each weekend starting at the end of March and fizzling out near the end of April. I saw a few new birds this spring and met a ton of new people. It’s amazing the bird traffic at Fort Desoto. People come from all over the country during April for a “bird vacation”. Most of the travelers I spoke with were hitting parks all around Florida. At least at Fort Desoto, when you walk out of the woods, you’re on the beach and your “bird vacation” can become a few hours of a “beach vacation”.

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Anybody got some soap and a towel?

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I got out of the car to look for the rare surf scoter that had been spotted here the day before. When I looked in the pond I saw two osprey and it looked like they were taking a bath.

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One flew right at me.

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The other one flew off but one kept getting in the water.

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Up again, all wet.

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Flying a few feet.

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I didn’t see any fish so it must be taking a bath.

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Another flight around the pond.

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Then back in the water again. He went in pretty deep.

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Soaking wet.

I did not find the surf scoter. But, I did watch the osprey taking a bath. It was a dark late afternoon. It was about to rain when I stopped by the duck pond near Fort Desoto. When I first got there, two were swimming in the water. Right away one few off. The other one would dip in the water and fly around and do it again. Three times he did this. He was flapping hard and putting his head under the water so he must have been bathing instead of fishing. I guess they get dirty hanging out in trees and utility poles. There wasn’t much else in the pond but a few moorhens and gulls so I left and headed into the park.

Birds on the beach

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A palm warbler sitting on the beach.

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Semipalmated plover digging for crabs.

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Keeping an eye on me.

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Black bellied plover walking around in the dunes. His belly is only black during breeding season.

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Shorebirds along the edge of the lagoon. Mostly godwits with a few willits mixed in.

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“What are you hiding?” I said to the ibis.

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He had a crab in his beak but was reluctant to show me.

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“Sailing takes me away!”

A beautiful Sunday afternoon on the beach at Fort Desoto.

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A weekend in the backyard – Skywatch Friday

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Little blue heron creeping along the fence.

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An immature blue heron still in his white first year feathers. He’s just starting to get some blue tint around his face. He was walking around the dock.

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Two white ibis land on my boat lift.

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Off he goes. I think he saw me in the window.

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My neighbor’s bottle brush tree in full bloom.

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Back in early March, we had two manatees sleeping right in front of our dock. They stayed there most of the afternoon. I walked out on the dock and snapped these. They had their backs to our house most of the time so I couldn’t get any front of the face shots.

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 I went back out at sunset and they were still there.

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We had a few clouds when I first went out. View from the backyard.

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A little later, the clouds went by and it was a full sun. The sun goes right down the middle of the channel behind our house for about two weeks in March and October. In the winter it goes down behind the trees on the far left and in the summer behind the trees on the right. It’s really bright in the house for those two weeks.

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After going back in the house, I looked out the window one last time and noticed an anhinga sleeping in my neighbor’s tree.

A few things in the backyard during March. There hasn’t been too much since. We regularly get doves but since we cut down our fruit trees, we don’t get much else anymore. The manatees were a nice treat and we should see them more now that summer is here.  It would be nice if they would turn around and smile for me though.

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My first sora rail

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As I walked around the small lake, I saw nothing unusual. A cormorant swimming by.

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A female anhinga posed for me with her funny face. Anhingas are common at this lake. They sit on the boardwalk rail and don’t even move when someone jogs by.

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The grackle was picking the fuzz off of the cattails.

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It was getting late, I had about half an hour before I lost the light. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see the Sora rail that had been spotted here a week earlier. I was on the last section of the lake when I saw something moving in the reeds along the edge.

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I found him! My first sora rail. Soras aren’t that rare here but I keep missing them at the parks in the area. I finally found one and was able to get a shot. It was after 7pm at this point so I snapped a couple of pictures and then headed back to my car.

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He was busy feeding. There were two soras there but they stayed pretty far apart. They camouflage into the reeds pretty well so I was excited that I found him. This park is only 5 minutes from my office. There usually isn’t too much to see because there are so many joggers and dog walkers after work but it’s a nice way to spend an hour and wait for traffic to ease up.

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Of course, I had to take a picture of the local pond gator. He was a tiny one.

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Last shot before getting in my car and heading home.

Shorebirds at Fort Desoto

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Willet in the early morning sun.

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

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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.

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Black bellied plover hopping off to somewhere.

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Marbled godwits stopping their feeding to give me a glance.

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Laughing gull flying in to join the crowd.

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“Hey, where is everybody going?”

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A bald eagle flying around spooked the shorebirds.

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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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