A few more from spring migration


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


If so, it’s a lifer for me.


White eyed vireo singing in the morning.


He was chirping away.


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


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.


Swallowtail on the flowers.


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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My first sora rail


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


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.


The grackle was picking the fuzz off of the cattails.


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.


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.


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.


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


Last shot before getting in my car and heading home.

Birds of prey at Fort Desoto – Skywatch Friday


I was in the woods looking for little yellow birds and looked up and saw this kestrel watching me.


Walking down the east beach trail, I interrupted this osprey eating his breakfast.


I said “Relax, I’m not going to steal your stinky fish.”


He still yelled at me. I don’t know why he picked a low branch on a busy trail during a busy spring migration weekend.


He took off and flew around in a circle with his half eaten fish and landed on a higher up branch.


Later that morning I was standing at the north beach roped area and was talking to some other photogs about the shorebirds all flying off and someone yelled “Look over your heads.” Duh, the shorebirds had flushed because the above juvenile bald eagle had just circled the area.


Upclose. We think this is the new baby that was born earlier this year at the park. The eagles nest high up in a utility tower in the park. He circled around the roped off area a few times and then flew over the trees and was gone. I guess he figured those shorebirds were harder to get than he originally thought.

Just a few birds I saw on my morning walk at Fort Desoto in early April.

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And then there were 3


“Stop tickling me.” “Don’t move, I’m picking the bugs off you.”


“Hey, big sis, what is that lady doing?”


“Don’t look, I gotta pee.”


“What is that big silver thing flying up there? That is one big bird.”


“I need a stretch and a yawn.”


” I need to climb over this branch.”


“Who put this branch here?”




“Bye, bye, lady.”

It was a sad sight when I got the spoonbill nest at the Lowry Park Zoo. There were only 3 babies and last weekend there were 4. I knew it was going to be tough with 4 babies growing up on that small nest. One step too far and it’s into the gator exhibit for a little baby bird.  At least the remaining three seemed to be doing well. They are growing up so fast. A week after I took these I had a friend who stopped by and the three were still there. It’s still going to be risky as they start flapping their wings and branching out. They still have a long way to go. The babies are so cute though. I’m going to try to get back there at least once more before they fly the coup.

Rainbow of birds for spring migration


I think the indigo bunting was my favorite bird of the day. Last spring I could not get a decent picture of him. When I first got the woods I saw a flash of blue and didn’t see him again for a while. Later, while standing in front of the fountain talking to some other birders, he landed right on the base of the fountain. He bounced around for at least 10 minutes from branch to fountain.


I totally blew this shot out. I had been taking pictures of birds deep in the bushes early in the morning and had my ISO too high. When I drove over to the other section of woods, as soon as I got out of the car I saw the scarlet tanager in the tree and immediately started snapping. Then I realized he was in full sun and I hadn’t lowered my ISO. A second later he flew off.  So the shot overall is too bright but I’m just glad I got him.


This one I took right into the sun and then had to blow out to get the details. I think this is another scarlet tanager but we had heard there were summers around and I was hoping it was a summer instead. I can’t really see his wings in this picture to tell. Any experts have an opinion?


Later in the morning, when I came back to the mulberry bushes, they were full of orchard orioles. I only saw males while I was there. They were all busy eating the berries.


Another one with berries pieces in his beak.


Not a good picture but it was the only one I got of an american redstart.


Is this a gray kingbird or an eastern kingbird? People were calling it both. All About Birds does not even show a gray kingbird in their list, only the eastern. He was flying back and forth between the mulberry bushes with some lunch left on his beak.


My first red eyed vireo.


I thought this was a red eyed vireo at first. I’m thinking it’s the same bird as the picture before it and that I just couldn’t see it’s red eye. It also looks like a female redstart.


The very common gray catbird. The mulberry bushes were full of them. This one had red all over his face from eating the berries. What a feast.

The mulberry bushes at the trails have signs posted saying “Do not pick the fruit.” Just in case a tourist wanted to have a snack and wipe out an entire bush. The birds migrating through in spring count on these bushes for fuel to get them home up north. They are exhausted and hungry when they stop by Fort Desoto for a rest. The bushes were full of birds in early April. They were all busy eating and most birds had a little berry juice stained on their beaks and faces. Most of these pictures were taken standing in front of the big mulberry bushes or at the water fountain so I didn’t have to travel far. Just stand in one place and have patience (which I don’t have a lot of).

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Little yellow birds invade Fort Desoto


Hooded warblers were everywhere. They were walking around in the grass and posing for everyone. I saw this bird last year but never got a shot so this is my first official hooded warbler shot.


Prairie warblers aren’t too common. There were many of these on the east beach trails.


After I cropped this up I realized there were tiny white bugs all over the leaves. I think that’s what he was eating.


White eyed vireos are common during spring migration.


This one was trying to hide in the fir trees.


Yellow throated warblers were common around the ranger’s house this weekend.


My very first prothonotary warbler.


He was posing for me right when I hit the trail that morning.

Central west Florida had a small fall-out this past weekend. A big storm came through the Tampa Bay area on Thursday and by Friday afternoon, people were posting great migrating birds all over the area. The most populated seemed to be at Fort Desoto so I headed down there early Saturday morning. I skipped the beach and went straight to the woods. I spent over 4 hours looking for little birds in the bushes and trees.  Of course, everyone else had the same idea so it was pretty crowded on trails. Everyone was so nice pointing out things they had seen. I do not know my little birds very well and usually shoot first and look up species later. Saturday I left knowing all but one bird that I had taken pictures of. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of new people and ran into a few old friends I haven’t seen in a long time.  I also saw a few red and blue birds that aren’t cardinals or blue jays so I’ll post those later.

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Pink baby cotton candy balls


“Brother, you are wrong. This is not food.”


“Everybody wake up. Time for our morning stretch.”


“Look at my face! Isn’t it the cutest?!!”


“Too many mouths to feed. I gotta shake it off.”


“What are doing Junior? Showing off again?”


“Mom, when are we gonna eat?”


“I’m the oldest.” “Stop shaking the nest.” says the ones sleeping.


“How is this going to work?”

Four baby spoonbills at the alligator exhibit at Lowry Park zoo! Two years ago there were three babies in the same spot, although they are a couple of trees back this year. None last year so I guess they are making up for lost time.  I had posted about seeing the mating here back in early February. I finally got a chance to get back to the zoo to check on the nest and there were four babies! At this point they were getting big fast. All four looked pretty healthy. These parents are busy. I was only able to spend a little over an hour there and the other parent did not come back with food while I was there. I’m going to try to get back in the next two weeks to see how big they get and if all four make it. There’s not much room on that nest and big alligators are waiting below. 

The babies stayed busy stretching and preening but they weren’t all awake at the same time. One would stand up and stretch and lay back down. Then a few minutes later another would stand up. I don’t think this parent is getting much rest. It looks just like a big pile of pink cotton candy up there.

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Baby owls and some ibis on a sunny morning – Skywatch Friday


One baby was facing me and the other one (on the right) was turned around.


The older baby (on the left) was stretching her wings.


This nest is so tiny. They were up against each other the whole morning. Mom was close by on an upper branch.


Out on the beach, ibis were digging for breakfast.


Double dipping. An ibis and a great egret were feeding together.


I found the above birds at the north beach marsh. The tide was really low this morning.


It was another perfect morning in late February.


The beach was quiet. The water was calm.


Lots of shells on the beach.

By now the baby owls at Fort Desoto are flying around from branch to branch. I heard that the park ranger has taken down the orange fencing that went around the area where the nest was which means they have fledged. They grow up so fast. I think they’ll still stay in the area for a couple of months so I’ll look for them next time I’m at the park. There weren’t many other birds at the park. It was cool and windy so the north beach was lacking in shorebirds. I could only find a few ibis and great egrets that morning. Spring break has begun and the beach will become a different place, full of loud kids chasing birds. Can’t wait.

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A sad picture but happy ending.


These beautiful loons only stay in Florida for a few short months during the winter.


I caught one busy getting his own fish.


He was gulping them down, one after another. Then the below happened.


A loon had gotten caught in fishing hook and the fisherman was pulling him up on the pier. At least the fisherman next to him had told him not to cut the line, to pull him up and get the hook out. It’s better to use a bait net but they pulled him so fast no one had time to get the net. I ran over to the corner and shot the above quick right before he came up on the pier.


A volunteer from the Tampa Audubon was there and helped get the hook out. The hook came out quick and the loon was released back into the water.


This pelican was not so fortunate. He has fishing line stuck somewhere on his body. He was on the other side of the pier that is not accessible.


A few other sights on the pier that morning. And we wonder why they just cut the line instead of pulling up the bird. They can’t even bother to pull up their own pants.

If you missed the story the Tampa Bay Times posted on this issue that I attached in my last post, here is the link again. This not new news. I found this article from 2010 about the same subject.

Baby eagles flapping their wings.


“Am I doing this right?”


“Is this the standard eagle pose?”


“Do these wings make my butt look big?” (says the baby eagle if it’s a she).


“Man, the chicks are gonna dig these.” (says the eagle if it’s a guy.)


“I have lift off.”


“Quiet down, I’m trying to sleep.”



Above is a short video of the baby eagle flapping his wings. I stopped by the nest on a cold windy day in mid-February. Both babies looked good. By now they are around 2 months old? I’m not sure when they hatched. Only when I could see them peeking over the nest so they could be close to 3 months old.  By now they are flying far away.

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