I had heard there was a pink bird near the Safety Harbor boardwalk so one late afternoon in September I hopped in the car and headed over. After a quick glance by the boardwalk and not seeing the bird I was looking for I started to check out what else was there. I found the above ibis with a young horseshoe crab in his beak. He didn’t swallow it whole but took it over to the exposed sand and started picking at the insides. I don’t think it was much of a meal.
The water was calm and I could see parts of downtown Tampa far across the bay.
There were a lot of birds out on the sandbar area. Mostly laughing gulls and pelicans but there were a few terns in the mix.
A belted kingfisher flew by.
This was not the pink bird I was looking for but the roseate spoonbill is still pretty. She was feeding with several ibis. The reflections were clear since the water was not moving.
Here is the pink bird I was looking for, an American flamingo. One of the wild ones that got blown up to the Tampa bay area during Hurricane Idalia. She was first seen here just past mid-September so she wasn’t one of the first ones to be seen in the area. She is banded and the only info we have been able to find is that she (or he) was banded in the Yucatan (eastern most part of Mexico). The locals that live in Safety Harbor have named her HarborRita (like a Margarita from the Harbor!). She’s been the most consistent one to see but she’s not there most of the day. She usually shows up early in the morning and is gone by 8:30am and then is sometimes there late in the day.
A few mornings later I stopped by to see if she was there. It was pretty cloudy and I thought that would help since the sun would not be behind her. She was not there this morning and you can barely see Tampa across the bay.
I did find some roseate spoonbills taking a bath.
I took a short walk around the marina and the sun was starting to come out. At this point the spoonbills were preening and starting to settle in for a nap.
I made another trip to Fort Desoto Park in late April. I was hoping there would still be some migrating birds stopping by. There was a small chance of rain even though it looked like it would pour at any time.
The only migrating bird I found was a Cape May warbler. There were several of these cuties in the woods near the ranger’s house.
Heading to the gulf fishing pier.
The usual birds were at the fishing pier including a ruddy turnstone showing me his missing foot and great egrets.
The laughing gulls were putting on a show on top of the shelter on the pier.
I thought maybe the sun would break through but it stayed cloudy.
Pelicans hanging out on the jetti next to the pier.
A quick shot of a red breasted merganser that was still there. They spend the winter here but usually leave in March.
It was still a nice morning out even though it wasn’t very birdy or sunny.
There are some great benches here at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Right in front of this huge milkweed bush. The bush was covered in monarch caterpillars in mid-March. I sat for a while waiting for butterflies to come by but there wasn’t many flying around this morning.
This squirrel came over and sat near me and started eating something. He was the only interesting thing there so I left and headed over to McGough Park.
I couldn’t find any birds in the area around the turtle ponds and the turtles were already snoozing so I didn’t stay too long here either. I figured at this point I was close to the beach so I decided on a quick stop at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.
The injured pelicans were doing their morning flaps or taking a bath.
I could barely make out the baby great egrets high up in the trees over the exhibits. They had long outgrown the tiny nests they were growing up in but you could still see their pin feathers when they flapped their wings so they were not quite ready to start flying yet.
NIght herons were still sitting on nests although there was a lot of baby ones (the last one in brown and white with orange eyes) all over the sanctuary.
This night heron was showing the way to the shade garden although it’s really just a lot of overgrown mangroves.
It was early March and too nice outside to be inside so I headed over to nearby Oldsmar pier to sit for a while. When I first got there the eagle was sitting high up in the pine tree. He left pretty quickly and then made several passes over the pier.
The tide was low and left a small sandy spot in between the mangroves. I was watching this cute dog find a stick and then turn around and show it to his human before heading in the water with it. I’m not sure if he was saying “Dad, look what I found” or “Dad, can I play with this stick”.
I think this is the first time I’ve seen someone catch a fish here.
The crab trapper guy was closer to the pier this morning. It’s fun to watch the pelicans follow him, hoping for a free handout. I was recently going through some old pictures, cleaning out files and saw that I had taken pictures of him in 2015 from Philippe Park. This guy has been doing it for a while. It would be a nice side gig but I’m not sure how many crabs he gets in this northern part of the bay. I wonder if he needs a helper. I would do it for free a few times. To sit out in the boat with the pelicans in the early morning would be great.
I was back at the Dunedin marina in late December for a quick walk (can you tell this is one of my favorite places to walk?). That damaged abandoned boat is still stuck to the channel marker. You can see where it’s cut into the boat. It’s a great place for birds to rest and I caught a green heron sitting on it the morning I was there.
A great egret was fishing through the little hole around the floating piling. I kept seeing him sticking his head down thinking he couldn’t catch even a tiny fish that way but he sure did.
A little blue heron was creeping around the dock, also looking for fish.
There’s always a lot of pelicans around the marina.
I caught this grackle eating some kind of seeds.
I saw this osprey flying across the marina with some sticks and moss in his talons. It’s the start of nesting season for osprey so I thought he was heading to one of the 2 nests in the marina parking lot. He flew around with it for a while. Then it looks like he’s going to land on a light pole that didn’t already have a nest and I’m thinking “What is he doing?”. He did land but then took off across the marina and headed to the nest on a pole at the other end of the marina.
There’s a nest high up in a tree near the boat ramp and another nest across from it on top of a pole. There’s always a lot of osprey flying around so they guard them pretty well during nesting season.
Far out in the water I could see a dolphin coming up every few minutes. I was bummed he didn’t come close to the pier.
It was a dark and dreary day during the week before Christmas. I had heard about a rare duck being seen in south St. Pete so I headed out ready to brave the weather. (You northerners will laugh at me. It was 50 degrees and I was bundled up, glad that I wasn’t up there in that crazy snow.) The black scoter had been seen just off the boat ramp at War Veterans Memorial Park. It would be a first sighting for me if I find it.
I hit all of the areas in the park and could not find that duck. The wind was blasting so she might have floated farther south. I noticed a small spoil island that had a lot of pelicans hiding from the wind.
The small beach area at the tip of the park held a few shorebirds. A lone willet was digging for food.
A lone red knot was doing the same.
A semipalmated plover was trying to nap.
More pelicans preening out on a spit.
Not sure if this is because of the extreme low tide or if this boat has been stranded for a while here. It looked a little damaged.
Bay Pines National Cemetery was next door to the park so I stopped in to visit my parents (Dad was in WW2). The graves were decorated with wreaths.
I did not find the black scoter that morning but all was not lost. Weeks later another one was spotted closer to home. More on that one later.
It was late April and after walking the trails at Fort Desoto one morning looking for migrating birds with no luck, I headed to the fishing pier. It was just too nice to go home yet.
As usual pelicans were flying by.
I started looking out in the water to see if there were any dolphins swimming around the pier and found a pair of manatees instead. They were fairly far out in the shallow area so they were easy to spot. At one point it looked like they were mating. I could see one of the manatee’s flipper on top of the other manatee. After a few minutes they started swimming towards the pier.
They swam right up to the pier and luckily I had my zoom lens so these were at 80mm.
They mated several times right along the pier. At this point there was a huge crowd of people watching. Several people said they had never seen one before.
These above were taken with my phone. They eventually swam under the pier and then hung out on the other side before slowly swimming away. What a great thing to see! I had planned to do a quick walk and snap a few shots of dolphins but I stood there for an hour since they were so close to the pier and moving so slowly.
I started the morning off at Chesnut Park, It was sunny and warm but the clouds starting moving in after I had been there a while. Not many birds out but I did find a pine warbler and cardinal fattening up for the winter on beauty berries. That cardinal seemed drunk after eating so many.
Looking over the lake, the sun seemed to have an angel glowing from it. Or is that just my imagination? I took this with my phone.
Later I headed over to the Dunedin causeway, after the clouds had moved in. I knew it would start raining soon but wasn’t quite ready to go home yet. The wind had picked up and no one had gone out in a kayak. That one small sailboat was braving the wind.
I headed out for a walk at Fort Desoto on a Saturday morning in early June. It was a nice morning out but only the usual birds were at the pier. It’s always fun to see the prehistoric looking pelicans.
You can usually see osprey up close on the pier.
The snowy egrets were fighting over the bait fish that the fisherman were pulling up in their nets. When the fishermen shake out the bait fish into their buckets, a few fish usually land on the pier and the egrets squabble over them and occasionally a great blue heron gets in on the fight.
On the way home I saw a few frigatebirds cruising over the pond outside of the park. Of course I pulled over and got a few shots as they cruised by.