At the piers

This is something you don’t see everyday in mid-March. That water was a little chilly, even with a short wetsuit. I was out for a short walk on the Oldsmar pier and saw this guy. It looked like fun but you really need some heavy upper body strength to hold that big sail up. Once he got up he went flying by and across the bay.

It was a quiet morning with only a few willets flying around so I headed over to the Dunedin marina.

These grackles were happily singing the morning away.

The usual beautiful scene from the marina.

The only birds I saw were willets and starlings on the little grassy area.

Also, house sparrows. They were busy taking dirt baths.

SkyWatch Friday

The purple martins are back!

I had heard the purple martins were back at the Dunedin marina so one morning I drove around to the front of the marina to see if I could get some shots of them in the bird house. I also found some other birds there as well. The spotted sandpipers will be going back up north soon

Pigeons get no respect but they are pretty when the sun shines on them.

A kingfisher was hanging out on the channel marker at the entrance to the marina.

All of the usual birds were there. Green herons, great egrets and pelicans.

The purple martins were busy moving in to the martin house. It looks like most of them were in couples and had staked out their spots. Last year I found them when the babies were almost fully grown and ready to leave to I’m hoping this year I can see some young babies.

The view from the purple martin house. You can see Clearwater beach across the water. It used to be a quiet little beach area with 2 story Mom and Pop hotels but not anymore. All highrises and the traffic is terrible. Parking is $30 a day. Only the tourists go to this beach now.

BLUE MONDAY BADGE

Baby season has started

Finally, I was able to see the head of a baby on the eagle’s nest in my neighborhood on 2/11. He still had gray fuzz on his head. This nest has been really annoying this year. They rebuilt it farther back on the tower and the nest has sunken in quite a bit. And so many sticks “sticking” up in the way. But I was glad to see at least one baby!

It looks like one of the parents was adding to the nest.

Both parents together on the nest on a sunny morning.

This was the view from the other side of the nest. You can really see where it was sinking in the middle so the babies are hidden far down in the bowl.

At this point there was always one parent on guard on the tower.

One morning I saw an eagle on the big pine tree in front of the Oldsmar pier. He spent a lot of time up here last year but this was this first time seeing him here this year.

Flybys close to the nest included a pelican and osprey. There is an osprey nest close by the eagle’s nest and the osprey will fly close but the eagles always yell at them and they take off.

I heard the pileated woodpecker screaming as he landed on top of the utility pole right in front of where I was standing at the nest. I quickly snapped this and off he went again. I hear them screaming all over the neighborhood.

One of the many osprey nest in the neighborhood. This one is a few towers down from the eagle’s nest. I caught them bringing in padding for the nest. This one is pretty far away.

A full moon before dark.

SkyWatch Friday

Fly away free big bird!

I was meeting a friend for lunch over at the beach and stopped at nearby Seaside Seabird Sanctuary for a quick walk. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates over 10,000 birds a year and most get released but some are permanently disabled and live their lives out here. Many are missing wings, eyes or parts of their beaks. I noticed in the one of the pelican enclosures that they were starting to nest. When the babies are born they are released into the wild. It looks like one of the pelicans didn’t understand the nest concept.

Some of the couples were just starting to get frisky in late January. It looks like the lady was missing an eye.

This one in the back of the enclosure was stretching his mouth. He was also missing an eye.

They release injured birds once they are better (some may have gotten sick from red tide) and I happened to be there the afternoon they were doing a big release. Since the sanctuary sits right on the beach they are able to set them free right here.

The volunteers walked the pelicans down to the shore and let them go. Most took off immediately but a few hung around the beach for a while before flying away. I’m sure for the volunteers it makes all the work worthwhile to see them fly away. If you notice they are all holding the pelican’s beak open as they carry them out to the beach. Pelicans don’t have noses. They breath through their beaks so it’s important that someone rescuing an injured pelican doesn’t hold the beak closed.

Rolling in

I had to get out of the house so I went for a short mini walk in late January at the Dunedin marina and the fog started rolling in. It started out sunny but got foggy pretty quickly.

Standing on the pier, looking back into the marina, I could see the sun trying to stay out. It cast a sleepy glow back on land.

Out in the water I would see a fog bow.

The usual docile birds were hanging out on the pier.

The sea fog kept rolling in and getting thicker as I was leaving.

SkyWatch Friday

Sleeping shorebirds

It was a quiet morning on the Dunedin causeway and I noticed a lot of sleeping shorebirds. After my walk I got my camera out of my car and started snapping the shorebirds. I found a lone black bellied plover mixed in with a lot of dowitchers. When I cropped this up I noticed the little dunlin on the right.

I usually only see large flocks of laughing gulls here so it was great to see all of the dowitchers sleeping together. Some were trying to nap and some were feeding. There were a few dunlins and ruddy turnstones mixed in as well.

My camera could only catch a small portion of them at a time.

Some were flying in and out of the sleeping group.

A little farther down the beach I found a lone skimmer.

A pelican cruises right above the water.

A foggy morning

Another foggy walk along the Dunedin causeway in early December. I thought the sun was going to break through when I first got there but it seemed to get foggier as the morning went on.

After my walk I pulled my camera out of the car and walked down near the edge of the water. The tide was low and there were a few shorebirds feeding or sleeping. I caught a lone marbled godwit flying in to nap with the laughing gulls.

I stopped by the marina before heading home. I could see a bright red Santa on top of a boat, really popping with color in the fog.

The usual birds (a pelican and great egret) hoping a fisherman will show up to steal his snacks.

Inspire Me Monday

The sun through palm trees

After I caught the sun rising at the Safety Harbor fishing pier I headed down to North Shore Park in St. Pete. The sun was up about half way by this time but still made for some pretty shots. This little beach sits on the bay side of St. Pete and the sand isn’t very nice so there usually isn’t too many people on it in the morning.

The water looked very inviting with the sun beaming down on it but it was a little chilly this morning.

I think this is a Hong Kong orchid tree. The the park was full of them blooming in early December.

I was hoping to find something different in the way of birds out here, sometimes a surprise might pop up but it was quiet. Only the usuals. A ring billed gull scratching an itch and a pelican lands in front of me. The little beach was full of laughing gulls but not much else.

As I was standing on the beach watching the birds this tiny shark swam right up near the sand.

SkyWatch Friday

A warm morning out in December.

Folly Farms in Safety Harbor was all decorated for Christmas with lights everywhere. I was there early in the morning and many of the lights were still on. It was weird looking for birds and butterflies with a tshirt on and Christmas lights everywhere. The farm has a community garden and someone had sunflowers blooming in their square, in the middle of December! I could only find a few butterflies in the butterfly garden even though it was still blooming.

The only bird I found at the farm was a hermit thrush. I had not seen one since 2018 and I had just seen one in my backyard before finding this one at the farm. I had to wonder if it was the same one from my yard even though I was 15 minutes away.

I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier before heading home and found some black capped (or nanday) parakeets in the parking lot. They were eating seeds from the top of the trees. They blend in well in the trees and I might not have seen them if they hadn’t been screaming.

A manatee was close to the pier but the dolphins were pretty far out in the bay.

Watching the ibis feed off tiny crabs in the water.

Pelicans were cruising by the pier.

There were several osprey out diving for fish in the bay but only one came close enough to try and get shots. He swooped down and grabbed that fish so fast and then went the other way. I was hoping he would fly towards me. Oh well. I’ll try again.

Inspire Me Monday

 

Finally out with my camera

In late November I was finally out with my camera since having my shoulder surgery in early October, I could still only pick up 3lbs so I had my older smaller camera on my lightest lens. All together they were at 3.5 lbs so I was cheating a little but kept the camera in my left hand for most of the time. It felt good to be out walking around with it but I had an old 300mm lens and didn’t have much reach. I headed to the Dunedin marina for a long walk and then pulled the camera out of the car and walked around by the boats for a short while.

There were a few shorebirds at the tiny beach in front of the marina. Willets and ruddy turnstones are always there.

Something spooked these semi-palmated plovers several times.

One of the resident osprey sitting on a sailboat mast. They have a nest right in the parking lot here so I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on the babies this year.

An anhinga resting on the old abandoned boat.

A phone shot, this old sailboat got wedge up against the channel marker during Hurricane Nicole in early November and has been stuck there ever since. It’s a great place for the birds to rest.

A great egret posing nicely.

Pelicans around the marina.

A manatee was right up against the sea wall. This was taken with my phone. The shadows of the railing were a little tough though.

I was on the way home and stopped at a red light when I saw a ton of white pelicans flying high coming towards me. I pulled over into the shopping center and was able to snap the above. This was only a small portion of them. There were at least 4 more of these cruising around the area. It was amazing to watch them swooping around and cruising.