Summer Tanagers only come through the Tampa bay area twice a year during spring and fall migration. The only place I can usually find them during that time is in the woods at Fort Desoto. In mid-April the woods were full of them including young ones that were just starting to turn red and still had some of their yellow baby feathers.
Female summer tanagers are all yellow.
A few of the orange and black birds were there including the orchard oriole and the American redstart above.
The female orchard oriole is also all yellow.
A cute little wood pewee.
A Tennessee warbler.
Also flying in the mangroves.
Most of the birds on this particular Saturday morning were feeding in the mangrove bushes along the road. Huge crowds had gathered to see the birds and the people who were coming into the park to fish or hit the beach were slowing down trying to figure out what we were all staring at. People would stop in their cars and ask us what we were looking at. “Birds” was the answer. They looked at us like we were crazy. It was a fun morning to be crazy.
An immature male orchard oriole. He’ll turn a burnt dark orange after his next molt.
Above are female orchard orioles.
A rare Kentucky warbler.
An immature blue indigo looking back at me.
Fort Desoto Park in south Pinellas county is known as a hot spot for birds migrating through in the spring and fall. The birds seem to be more plentiful in spring vs. fall migration. All of the above were seen in a 2 hour period in mid-April. Just standing quietly in the bushes watching them fly in and eat the mulberries with 20 or so other people. All with our long lenses and binoculars. I was using my 300mm lens with a 1.4 extender to zoom in. These are also cropped up so we were all pretty far away.
He’s looking at her like “Why are you showing off?”
Getting a drink and a bath at the same time.
It’s already looking like summer.
Flowers are blooming. Butterflies are everywhere.
I think this is a northern parula.
A male orchard oriole hiding in the bushes.
I couldn’t help myself. Taking more hooded warbler pictures.
I couldn’t decide which picture a liked more, the one above or below. Either way, just a weed growing along the trail.
Stopped by Fort Desoto in late March after work. I didn’t have a lot of time before it got dark and was hoping to get some sunset pictures but it got cloudy as the sun was going down. No sunset but a few birds on the trails. So I got a good walk in before dark and then headed home.
A first-summer male orchard oriole with mulberry stains on his chest.
I think this is a female orchard oriole.
I think this is a first year female Baltimore oriole.
Another red-eyed vireo.
I saw one northern Parula that morning.
My first black throated green warbler.
A male orchard oriole taking a berry break.
Prairie warbler doing some weird acrobats.
Bye,bye, orchard oriole.
A female rose breasted grosbeak.
It was a busy day in mid-April. A big fall out day. Spring migration was in full swing and I knew I’d come home with a neck ache from staring up in the trees all morning. I was right. Birds were everywhere but they did not sit still very long. There were almost as many people at Fort Desoto that morning. Everyone was yelling out bird names: “there goes a female blah blah”, ” I just saw an immature male blah blah”, ” has anyone seen the yellow blah blah?” All of the little birds were starting to looking alike, especially the yellow and brown ones. Let me know if I got any of the above wrong. People had driven from all over the state to check birds off their list. I met a ton of new people and ran into people I hadn’t seen since the last migration. It was catch up day. The next couple of weekends still had a few birds but not like this big weekend. I also saw a lot of little red birds and blue birds. More on those later.
My first cedar waxwing of the year. There were several in the bush and this was all I got.
I think this is a female orchard oriole. With berry stains on her beak, looking at me.
Same as above.
One of the few male summer tanager sightings I saw.
Another yellow bird. I’m still going with female orchard oriole.
Same as above.
An immature rose breasted grosbeak with berry stains on his chest.
An immature male orchard oriole.
Eastern kingbird all covered in berry stains.
A male orchard oriole.
A summer tanager with a bug in his beak.
Hooded warbler with a bee in his beak.
A prothonotary warbler so busy eating he didn’t even notice us.
A few seconds later he looks up, all covered in berry juice.
A crow chasing all of the little birds away from the fountain.
What a busy morning. In mid-April we got spring migration fall out at Fort Desoto. We had storms earlier in the week but the birds stayed put through the weekend. I was expecting to show up at the park and only see cardinals. Birds were busy hopping from bush to tree and back. Most were eating the mulberries but some were also eating bugs. You really had to pay attention to get pictures for the few seconds they sit still which is hard to do when you keep running into people you haven’t seen since last spring migration and you want to catch up. There were a lot of people on the trails but everyone was nice and pointed out what they were seeing. There were lots of bird experts there and I was going to try to take notes but I was afraid I’d miss something if I stopped to write something down. April was a busy month so I’ll have more little bright bird pictures. If I got any of these wrong, please let me know.
My very first red-eyed vireo. His beak was stained red from the berries.
Prothonotary warbler all covered in berry juice.
Another one getting ready to chow on the berries.
He’s going to need a bath after this feast.
Orchard oriole getting a bite.
Another oriole high up in the tree.
Even the squirrels were eating the berries.
The mulberry bush area at Fort Desoto was a fly-in fast food place in mid April for birds migrating north. I had never even heard of a mulberry until last year when I kept hearing about the bird traffic at the mulberry bushes at Fort Desoto. I’ve never eaten one but they look like they would taste like a raspberry or blackberry. One interesting thing I read about them on Wikipedia is that some North American cities have banned the planting of mulberries because of the large amounts of pollen they produce, posing a potential health hazard for some pollen allergy sufferers. No wonder I kept coming home with nose bleeds after spending hours walking around the bushes.
This was the 2nd weekend I had spent at the park looking for little birds. This day I was able to see my first red-eyed vireo. I was getting bird nerd neck pain from staring up in the trees for hours at time. That’s okay, small price to pay for seeing these beautiful fun birds. I can spend the rest of the summer resting on a float in the gulf recouping as the dolphins and manatees swim by (all while keeping an eye out for stingrays and sharks).
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).
Female orchard oriole. I had seen these earlier in the week.
My first hummingbird shot. When I was growing up we had a feeder in the backyard in front of the dining room window. I used to see them and think they were neat. It never occurred to me back then to take a picture of it.
It was amazing watching them hover. I wished the light had been better. We were in the woods and the sun had gone down behind the trees. There was a little light but it wasn’t consistent. I’m going to keep my eyes out for these little guys on my next trip.
Hummingbird resting on a tiny branch. He must be tired.
A few more pictures from my early night at Fort Desoto during the week of fall out in late April. I could finally call my hubby and say “I’m gonna be home late. We got fall out!” (Yes, we saw The Big Year). Ron at Pinellasbirds.com said this was a record migration through the area in a given week. I only saw a spit of what was out there.
One thing I’ve learned is that it’s really hard to get decent shots of these little guys. It’s a lot harder than a shorebird sleeping on the beach or an eagle sitting on a nest. They are usually high up in the trees or deep inside them. There’s always leaves and branches to deal with. The light is harder in the woods with shadows. They are a lot more skittish than bigger birds. You have to sit quietly and wait for them to come down which is hard to do when there’s a steady stream of people walking by. Any news of birds and the woods are full of people. Most are quiet and stay back but you get at least one loud person getting too close to the feeder or fountain. Especially with the hummingbird feeders. We kept telling people to stay far back and they will come down and feed. People kept getting too close trying to take pictures with their camera phone.
Anyway, the whole experience and two short visits to Fort Desoto were a lot of fun. I met a lot of great birders who were helpful with id’s.
I have seen one other eastern kingbird. But it was from far away while I was kayaking.
My first orchard oriole. This one was female. I have to laugh though. I was getting confused because there were so many birders out this morning and then the above would fly by and they would say “There’s an oriole.”. Then the one below would fly by and someone else would say the same thing. I kept thinking “someone doesn’t know their birds very well.” People keep calling two different birds the same thing. Well, I was the one who didn’t know. The below is the male version. They look so different.
My first male orchard oriole sighting.
My first northern parula.
Not a first bird, night herons are everywhere here. We were quietly sitting in front of Larry’s fountain hoping something tiny and cute would fly up and all we got was this big thing. He looked around like “Why are all these people sitting around in the woods?” He took a couple of drinks and left.
The woods were full of butterflies.
A couple of weekends ago I headed down to Fort Desoto. This was before the big “fall out” weekend but I had heard there were a few migratory birds already there. I headed to the mulberry bush woods and there was already a traffic jam through the trails. Rush hour traffic looking for birds. (And my hubby thinks I’m the only one.) The best part was having a lot of experts around to help with IDs (unless they got any of the above wrong). It saved me some time looking randomly for tiny birds in my Stokes 800 page guide. It was a beautiful morning to be at the park. I spent most of the day there before getting a flat tire on the Howard Franklin bridge on the way home. Triple A came to my rescue.