Little yellow birds invade Fort Desoto

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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.

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

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

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White eyed vireos are common during spring migration.

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This one was trying to hide in the fir trees.

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

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My very first prothonotary warbler.

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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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Birds aren’t the one ones eating fish for breakfast.

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Otters are not quiet when they eat. We heard this guy munching on the fish before we saw him. We knew there were otters running around on the trail and kept our eyes open. We followed this guy down the trail for a while and saw him eat 3 different fish.

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His mom never told him to chew with his mouth closed.

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Taking a breather, he stopped for a few seconds and then took off again.

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Yum, another one.

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It was as if he was saying “See what you’re missing?”

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“Last bite.”

There  was a group of us following three otters along the trail. Two took off farther into the marsh and this one stayed right against the trail. He moved fast. He would dive into the water (which seemed shallow to us) and then several hundred feet down we’d see his head pop up with another fish. He sat up right in front of us to eat but the reeds along the edge of the trail made it a challenge to get a clear shot. It’s not often the otters are out in the open on a busy Saturday morning with so many people on the trails. I guess because the weather was perfect, sunny and cool, they were more playful.  At one point there about 10 people standing on the trail talking and one of the otters zipped across the trail right in front of them. It was about 30 minutes of “who cares about the birds.” time.

Camera Critters

Pink baby cotton candy balls

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

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

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

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

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“What are doing Junior? Showing off again?”

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“Mom, when are we gonna eat?”

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

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“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

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

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

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

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Out on the beach, ibis were digging for breakfast.

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

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

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It was another perfect morning in late February.

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The beach was quiet. The water was calm.

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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.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday

A sad picture but happy ending.

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

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I caught one busy getting his own fish.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Am I doing this right?”

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“Is this the standard eagle pose?”

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

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

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“I have lift off.”

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“Quiet down, I’m trying to sleep.”

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“Kids!”

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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Baby owls and a few other birds at Fort Desoto

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Fuzzy baby owl hiding in the shade.  The little ball of fuzz next to it was it’s younger sibling.

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Peaking out. The two baby owls at Fort Desoto are doing well.

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Black bellied plover posing for me.

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A willet actually sitting on the sand. You don’t see this very often.

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Getting a bite.

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These willits were busy eating.

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Another beautiful sunny cool morning in February at Fort Desoto Park. I’ve been heading to the park almost every weekend. No mosquitos and heat for now. It won’t last long. This Sunday morning in mid-February hubby came with me. We stopped by the owl’s nest for a while and then walked up to the north end of the beach. There weren’t many shorebirds out this morning. I think there were more photographers there than birds. Most had come by to see the baby owls but the lack of shorebirds was disappointing. Still, just being out on the beach on this perfect day was worth it.