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

Dark and cloudy at the beach.

It was a cold quiet windy day at Fort Desoto in early January. I walked out to the north beach and saw nothing as far as the eye could see. Then this flash of movement caught my eye. A lone female red breasted merganser. She didn’t stay long and neither did I.

I headed over to the fishing pier and found a ring billed gull with a snack. The laughing gull was trying it’s best to steal it away but he wasn’t successful.

This was a scene all over the park. Osprey getting ready to start nesting and were coupling up. They both were eating fish.

Far away I could see skimmers, gulls and terns flying around.

The Clipper was cruising by the fishing pier.

It was a little creepy out on the beach. I only saw a few other people. We were all bundled up this morning.

It was extremely low tide. The clouds were getting darker so I decided not to head out on the spit. Even with the low tide I’d have to slosh through some water and wasn’t up for having cold feet this morning. I still love the beach here even on a day like this.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

Just being outside

A beautiful morning out at Fort Desoto. Out on Outback Key, you can see St. Pete beach far off in the distance. That big pink hotel (Don CeSar) really stands out.

Rush hour traffic on the water.

Usual birds around the fishing pier. A ruddy turnstone, loggerhead shrike and a ring billed gull with just a touch of orange around his eye.

TOTO, the banded oystercatcher, was there in his usual spot.

His mate was close by looking for food.

A nice cool morning for a walk on the beach at Fort Desoto in February. Sadly now this is more important than every, just being outside. Yesterday Brett and I went to the beach just to be outside since everything else is closed. Even the zoo is closed (although the keepers will still be there taking care of the animals). I’m working at home for the next few weeks and I’m sure the walls will start closing in. I’m going to try and walk in the neighborhood after work each night to get out. Hope everyone stays sane out there. Thanks for stopping by and let me know how you are coping.

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Our World Tuesday Graphichttp://ourworldtuesdaymeme.blogspot.com/

 

A walk around a lake

There were two white pelicans and one brown pelican floating in Crescent Lake near downtown St. Pete recently. The white ones were feeding close to the edge of the lake.

You can always find wood storks here.

Other usual critters include wintering ring billed ducks, lots of green herons, a cute mallard with a feather hat and plenty of turtles. One thing I’ve never seen here is alligators. I’m sure they are there under the water. I’ve only ever been early in the morning so they may be on the bank sunning themselves late in the afternoon.

This ring billed gull would have preferred a handout.