I’m still going through my pictures from Fort Desoto in late October. So many shorebirds there at that time. Tons of gulls, terns and skimmers. The 2nd shot is of red knots, feeding before their trip south for the winter.
Many of the birds were taking baths before it got dark.
An uncommon herring gull.
Not sure what kind of snack this laughing gull has.
Some of the smaller shorebirds. Yellowlegs, dowitcher, a black bellied plover and a tiny snowy plover that was smaller than this pile of sand.
It’s weird to see turkey vultures on the beach. They were really in the muck at low tide. The one on the right had a small piece of fish under his foot that he was eating.
Great egret flyby.
This kid was throwing his frisbee into the birds. Why is it so fun to watch the birds flush? Someone walked over to him and asked him to stop and explained that the birds needed their rest before they migrate for the winter. He really just didn’t know. He stopped and went back to his family.
Heading home back into Tampa right before dark, I saw the moon coming up and had to stop and take a picture.
The skimmers lined up along the shoreline at Fort Desoto.
Out on Outback Key spit, I could see tons of shorebirds from the beach.
So many shorebirds, so little time. The spit was full of different shorebirds but nothing new on this trip. The tide was high in mid-October early in the morning so I was wading knee deep to get out to the area where the shorebirds were. It was a slow walk just making sure I didn’t sink and go under. Everything was packed in my backpack but you just never know.
It’s rare to see red knots in their bright red breeding colors here in central Florida in mid-May. About a third of them were already in breeding feathers. They usually stop over somewhere in Florida to rest during migration. They fly from the tip of Argentina to the Canadian arctic and then back again each year. They have one of the longest journeys of all migrating birds. We’re lucky to see them here at Fort Desoto although this was the first time I had caught them in several years.
Some were napping early in the morning and some were feeding along the shoreline
Although there wasn’t many people near the area, something kept spooking them and causing them to flush. It could have been an eagle that was cruising the area. These guys really need their rest so it’s important that kids or dogs don’t chase after them.
Nice butt shot on these. They were so busy feeding they didn’t even look up when people walked by them. Notice the tags on the back two birds.
It was nice to catch these birds in breeding colors. Soon they’ll be mostly beige.
This one saw me watching him. He barely paid attention.
Back to more feeding.
There were small groups of them feeding all over the Fort Desoto beach.
Red knots fly more than 9,000 miles from south to north every spring and repeat the trip in reverse every autumn, making this bird one of the longest-distance migrants of all animals. They are exhausted when they stop over on our beaches in Florida. That’s one of the main reasons the tourists shouldn’t let their kids (or dogs) chase birds. They need their rest and to feed to keep going. On a recent Sunday morning, I saw several small flocks of them feeding at the north beach. They probably feed early in the morning and nap in the afternoon when all of the tourist are out. If you see these beautiful shore birds on the beach, please give them some space.