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

The big orange ball (not the kind you eat)

Most mornings I’m up well before the sun comes up but it’s not often I am out of the house before then. Brett was leaving for work extra early one morning in early December so I decided to head out with my camera with the short lens on it and my phone. When I got to the Safety Harbor fishing pier there was color but the ball hadn’t come up yet.

Large flocks of birds were flying across the bay. I think most of them were ibis.

Finally, that orange ball started to show up. I was lucky it wasn’t foggy this day.

It’s a beautiful sight and there were a lot of people there to see it. Most of the photographers there hang back in the parking lot to get the shots with the pier in it instead of standing on the end of the pier. I was running back and forth trying to get all of the shots in.

Standing at the end of the pier I took these with my camera.  You can barely see the skyline of downtown Tampa across the bay.

There’s something magical about standing here early in the morning waiting for the sun to come up. You’re not alone but everyone is quiet, almost whispering as if we were in a library. The joggers and dog walkers take a few minutes to stop and look. When I lived in Tampa and was working in the office I used to see the sun coming up in my rear view mirror on the way to work or through the window at the office. For now I can take a deep breath and enjoy the view.

A ring billed gull was sitting on the rail waiting for me to take a shot.

SkyWatch Friday

Sunrise and beach birds

I found the whimbril on another trip to Fort Desoto Park in late August. He was right when you walk out on the beach so he wasn’t hard to find.

An oystercatcher was taking a bath.
A snowy egret with a fish for breakfast.

A ring bill gull was posing for me.

I found another whimbrel far up on Outback Key.

The sun was just coming up over the trees when I headed out for a long walk on the beach.

I’ve slowed down a little on my blog posts for a while. I had shoulder surgery on the 6th and can’t pick up anything heavier than a pound for 6-7 weeks so I won’t be out with my camera for a while. I’ll probably be caught up with previous outings by the end of October. I still plan to get in my walks with my phone starting later this week though. I do have my camera set up on a tripod in front of the back window hoping to catch some migrating birds coming through our backyard so I don’t miss out on fall migration completely this fall.

Inspire Me Monday

A lot of flirting going on.

The usual shore birds were at the fishing pier in early April. There was a large variety of them hanging out together including those large ring billed gulls in the middle. They make the other birds seem so small.

There were a lot of royal terns on the beach. The two above with the orange beaks looked like they were flirting. They were standing at attention among the sandwich terns, common terns and willets.

They were definitely flirting. Walking back and forth together, almost like slow dancing. Their little black toupees were standing up.

Then we knew for sure they were flirting. The poor couple didn’t have any privacy although the willets weren’t really paying attention. It looked more like a game of leap frog than actual mating though.

They danced around again for a while as that kittiwake was keeping an eye on us.

They tried again but I don’t think she was really in the mood.

As I was leaving I noticed the crowd had thinned out. Everyone was here to see the kittiwake but there was so much more going on.

Early spring migration at Fort Desoto

It was a beautiful morning when I got to Fort Desoto Park in early April. I stopped by the East Beach turnaround to get a shot of the sun coming up over the bay. I had high hopes for seeing some migrating birds that has stopped by but it was still a little too early for spring migration. Last April we had a really slow migration with hardly any birds stopping by so I’m hoping we don’t have a repeat.

A pileated woodpecker was the first bird I saw, high up in a tree.

A hooded warbler and a black and white warbler with a snack. Normally I would be excited but I had  just seen both of these in my backyard.

There were at least 3 prothonotary warblers in a big bush in front of the water fountain being very cooperative. It was the only other migrating bird we saw that morning. There were a lot of people out looking. Again, it was still early in the month.

An opsrey was eating a fish in the tree behind the prothonotary warbler. I had to take a shot before heading to the gulf fishing pier for a quick walk before heading home.

I got to the fishing pier and saw the reddish egret that has the white wings fly by.

There were a lot of birds at the little beach next to the fishing pier. The usual gulls, terns and oystercatchers.  But there was something else that looked different.

A rare kittiwake was sitting there with the other birds. After a while I realized a ton of people were at the pier taking pictures of him as well. This is only my 2nd kittiwake sighting. Back in 2013 I was able to see the immature one at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing pier. I had heard there was one seen in 2017 and this was the 3rd sighting recorded in Pinellas county ever. People were phoning and texting friends and by noon a big crowd had formed.  Everyone gave him space and stayed off the beach area. They even stopped tourists from walking through the area. Twice he took off and flew down the pier and came back on the beach.

Laughing gulls were fighting over stolen bait fish (the one on the left has one in his beak).

A boat cruises by the lighthouse on Egmont Key.

SkyWatch Friday

The sea fog rolling in.

I love being out in the fog so when I peaked out the window in mid-February I got ready quickly and headed out the door for a walk on the Dunedin causeway. It kept getting foggier as the morning went on. I guess the sea fog was rolling in. The tide was super low which made it even cooler.

I had my camera in the car so I pulled it out to get some shots of the oystercatcher couple that was feeding along the causeway. Someone walked up behind me and spooked them to fly to the other side of the causeway.

A few of the other birds included a sanderling, a snowy egret, a marbled godwit and a young ring billed gull feasting on a dead fish.

Later I saw the oystercatchers again and snapped a few more pictures before leaving. They seemed to be having a lot of luck with whatever they were eating (tiny crabs?).

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

Stops along the beach.

I was meeting a friend for lunch on the beach in January and threw my camera in the car to make a few stops on the way home. Since I was close by, my first stop was at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary. It’s now run by a group of volunteers and they rescue and rehabilitate injured birds.

The sanctuary is shaded by overgrown mangrove trees and wild birds nest high up in them this time of year. Great egrets were working on fixing up their nests.

I could just barely make out baby great blue herons through all of the sticks and leaves. This nest had 2 babies and they were already growing up.

One of the first baby night herons of the season. They usually nest a little later but these guys were already almost as big as their parents.

A pretty pelican face.

This sandhill crane is one of the residents. You can see he’s missing his bottom beak. He’s well fed here.

Much farther north on the water, I stopped back by Weaver Park again. I always see parakeets here. They aren’t hard to miss, screaming so loud all of the time. Looks like they’ll be nesting soon.

The pier was pretty quiet.  Mostly terns and gulls. I was hoping to catch the opsrey diving for fish but there wasn’t any here this afternoon.

Breakfast with the oystercatchers

In mid-December I was out on the beach at Fort Desoto and found 2 oystercatcher couples. The first couple I found was just standing around, preening. Then a few feet away I saw the 2nd couple. It was super low tide and they were digging around in the wet sand for critters to eat. Eventually the other couple started feeding as well. I just plopped down on the sand and watched them feed for a while.

They were all busy pulling little worms out of the sand. It was nice that there wasn’t anyone walking this stretch of the beach to scare them away. I’m sure people were coming through as it got later in the morning.

This ring billed gull was keeping an eye on me.

The Fort Desoto fishing pier

I was back out at the fishing pier at Fort Desoto in late April. I was still trying to find some spring migrate birds with still no luck. So instead of going home empy handed, I headed over to the fishing pier to walk around (it’s a long pier). There’s always a good breeze and usually lots to see.  A ring billed gull sitting on top of the showers welcomed me.

Lots of hanky panky going on with the laughing gulls on the beach next to the pier. I’d tell them to get a room but I was basically in their “room”.

The pair of female mergansers were still hanging around. Feels like it’s late for them to be here. Shouldn’t they have gone north for the summer already?

The opsrey were nesting all over the park including on top of the old fort smokestack near the pier.

Some were still working on nests that sits right on the trail. She was going to get tired of yelling at every person that walks by.

SkyWatch Friday

A windy morning at the beach

I had just walked out on to the beach when these two oystercatchers flew by and then circled around and landed in front of me.

A juvenile ring billed gull flew by.

Something spooked the sandpipers and they all took off.

I found the pair of whimbrels that have been sighted hanging out nearby the gulf pier. They were not skittish at all as shell collectors walked right past them. Of course the willet was trying to get in on the pictures as well.

Students from nearby Eckard Collage have been volunteering to help with hooked birds on the fishing pier. They were just arriving with their gear on this cloudy windy day. There’s a huge problem with birds getting caught in fishing line. Not just at this pier but other busy piers as well. Pelicans, cormorants and gulls are just some of the birds that get hooked while diving close to the people fishing. If people cut the lines, the birds fly off with tangled fishing line and get trapped in mangroves and starve to death. The girls are here to help show the fishermen how to reel in the birds and take the line off or the hooks out.

Meanwhile up at the east beach turnaround, the kiteboarders were out in full force on this windy morning.

SkyWatch Friday