The beach has reopened.

On the trail at Fort Desoto. A butterfly and some kind of fruit that I have never noticed before. The red really stuck out in all of the green right on the trail.

A snowy egret trying to steal a snack from a fisherman.

Some of the birds near the fountain includes a loggerhead shrike, a female summer tanager and an ibis.

Dolphins were swimming around the pier.

Looking across the lagoon, lots of different shorebirds. The  middle shot has black skimmers in the front and the bottom picture shows red knots.

It was the first week in May and the park had just recently opened. I got there early and was leaving before 10am and shot this from the pier. The beach was filling up fast. Time for me to head home.

SkyWatch Friday

Sleeping red knots

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Early Saturday morning I headed out to Fort Desoto expecting to see the same ole birds. I was really going to see if I could spot the brown booby that’s been seen there on and off for a month. No luck on the booby but I walked up to the very north beach tip and saw the above. This is only a small section of the sleeping red knots with a few sanderlings and piping plovers in front.

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They were all sleeping. Red knots have one of the longest migrations of any bird. Every year they travel more than 9,000 miles from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America and back. Most of the red knots stop over to rest in the Delaware bay but we are lucky to have a handful spend time in the Tampa Bay area.  Hey, how did that ruddy turnstone on the right get in the picture?

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I only saw one feeding while I was there.

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A guy came jogging along and woke them up. They didn’t move and went back to sleep as he passed.

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Stretching. Most were still in their summer breeding colors.

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I’m not sure if the pale birds in front are juvenile red knots or another type of shorebird.

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It’s funny to see most of them sleeping on one leg. They need their rest since they have such a long flight. They won’t stick around long. I sat on the sand for a while and watched them sleep. All above are extremely cropped.

Migrating red knots feeding.

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.