Happy Memorial Day from the beach

Everyone was after this yummy snack rolling around on the beach.

Other birds were going after their usual snacks including the sandwich tern and great egret above. I think that egret had a tough time getting that fish down.

A fisherman had pulled up this tiny fish and left it on the pier so this great blue heron tiptoed up and grabbed it.

The usual birds at the fishing pier at Fort Desoto park.


A few female red breasted mergansers were swimming along the shoreline.

It’s the unofficial summer season kickoff this weekend. Although here in Florida that started months ago. I probably won’t be at the beach today since we tend to stay away on big holidays and avoid the crowds.

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Red things in the water at Fort Desoto

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It’s always fun to see Red breasted mergansers swimming around near the shore line at Fort Desoto. They are always bobbing for fish and stay busy preening themselves.  There were several swimming around in a shallow lagoon near the north beach.


Then the reddish egret photo bombed my shot of the red breasted mergansers diving. He was strutting around like “Hey why are you taking pictures of those ducks when you could be taking pictures of me?”

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Then I started taking pictures of the reddish egret.


And a tricolored heron photo bombed my last shot of the reddish egret.

Summer at the beach

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A black bellied plover eating something gunky.




Some of the resident oystercatchers.


A sandwich tern flying by.


“Got a light?”


More laughing gulls.


Trying to get a fish.


Typical Florida shot.


Dowitcher looking for snacks.


One of the red breasted mergansers is still hanging around the fishing pier.

Stuff at Fort Desoto in early June.

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At the fishing pier


These two female red breasted mergansers are still hanging around the fishing pier. They should be north for the summer by now.


A ruddy turnstone on the rocks.



A royal tern brings her a fish. Since she’s eating it, I guess they are an official couple.


The laughing gulls are pretty this time of year.



Having a conversation about something. All of the gulls are pairing up.


The juvenile reddish egret is still hanging around the pier.


Two baby osprey on the smokestack tower nest.



Someone got their snack stolen. Or maybe, the bird is being paid to advertise.

Saturday morning at Fort Desoto.

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Just passing through


Yellow bellied sapsucker.





Lots of indigo buntings including the juvenile in the last picture. He hasn’t got all of his blue feathers in yet.


The scarlet tanager has black wings.


The summer tanager is the only all red bird in America (according to All About Birds)


Female red breasted merganser.


And a pretty cactus flower just for fun.

These were taken at Fort Desoto in early April when spring migrating birds were stopping by for a rest before heading north for the summer. There wasn’t a ton of birds but a few good ones.

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Fort Desoto in mid-May


Lots of black bellied plovers on the beach.


Tiny Wilson’s plover.


Gimpy, one of the resident oystercatchers was watching me as looked for food.


A pretty red breasted merganser coming up for air.


I think this is a white eyed vireo but I can’t tell for sure from this shot.


The only Cape May warbler I saw this spring.


Mom is all alone now that her kids have gone off to “college”. She’s getting some much-needed rest after raising two hungry owlets.




Crazy wild parrots flying around near the beach.

Some left over shots from a trip to Fort Desoto beach in mid-May.

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The last of the red breasted ladies.

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Most of the winter ducks had left to head north for the summer. In mid-May I found these 2 red breasted mergansers wading around in the north beach marsh at Fort Desoto. They were swimming in about 4-6 inches of water. It looked like they were feeding off shrimp in the shallow water. There were several other photographers there. The mergansers came pretty close to the edge and didn’t seem bothered by anybody. We all just sat there on the sand and watched them swim around. I didn’t see them again on my most recent visit so I guess they are already at their summer home.

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Red breasted merganser convention


Putting on the brakes in the water.


Making a hard landing.


Cruising around in the waves.


Showing off.


Getting sleepy.


Giving me the eye.


Gotta itch.


Cruising with friends.


Another sighting of the common loon at the pier.

It feels like Fort Desoto had more red breasted mergansers this winter than ever before. There was a small flock hanging around the north beach lagoon and a few were swimming around both fishing piers. They seemed to be very calm, taking naps on the beach. The big question was where were all the males? We only had female mergansers.  Is there some pond somewhere full of male ones? Or do they just stay up north and not head down south for the winter? Makes you wonder.

Floating around the pier


Most days you can find cormorants diving for fish around the fishing pier.


I realized when I cropped this up, it was not a good sign. He must have stolen this fish from someone’s fishing line. I’m not sure if he swallowed the hook and bait.


This one was busy. He caught 3 fish in a matter of minutes.


A lone red breasted merganser floating close to the pier.


After preening, she was showing off.


Here’s something I’ve never seen before. A common loon already in his summer colors. This bird is a drab gray during the winter and I occasionally see them floating around piers. The common loon is the Minnesota state bird and this is how they usually see them. They look so much prettier here.


Catching fish.


Above is how we usually see the common loon in the winter. I took this last winter. They are usually all gray except for those red eyes.

I thought it was going to be a quiet morning at Fort Desoto but seeing the common loon in his black and white feathers was different. All dressed up and ready to go. This was in mid-March so he was molting early. He was probably on his way back home to Minnesota and decided since it was still snowing up there to stay here in sunny Florida a little longer. I would too.

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Looking for yet another yellow bird.


Are you a western tanager?  No, just a yellow rumped warbler.


Of course, the western tanager would be much higher up in the trees and harder to spot. After two hours, she would not come down from the top of the trees.


This was the best that I got that morning. She’s now been there for a few weeks so I should go back and see if I can find her again.


Nice butt shot. There were at least 20 birders looking for this bird. After several hours she was spotted high up and stayed there. This is my western tanager.


After spotting the tanager in the trees by the parking lot, I headed over to the beach to see what I could find. I’m going with Forester’s tern on this one. He’s got the black “earmuffs” that a common wouldn’t have. Bill is slightly longer.  Seagull Steve, let me know if I’m wrong on this. I followed your comparisons here.


Wilson’s plovers on the beach.


Are these semipalmated plovers?  Those orange legs on the one in the back makes me think they are but they don’t have a lot of color in their face. Maybe the back one is a juvenile?


Stretching after a nap.


A royal tern staring at me.


Taking a bath in the salt water.


What’s this? This isn’t a tern or plover. There was a lone red breasted merganser walking up on the beach. Where were all of her friends? They usually aren’t alone. She preened for a few minutes.


And then took off down the beach.


Pelican flying by just as the sun was coming out.

It was a foggy morning at Fort De Soto in mid-January. I went down to the park looking for the western tanager. Anything else I found was going to be a bonus. Not much else at the park except the usual terns and pelicans. I did find the Franklin’s gull on this trip. The sun finally started coming out around lunch time. I was hungry so I headed for home.

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