“Don’t let the sun go down on me”

Royal terns and willets on the sea wall across from the boat ramp at Davis Islands.

Pelicans and a great egret hanging around the island.

The view of Tampa across from the Davis Islands yacht basin right before sunset.

Watching the sun go down early in the quarantine in late March.

It was a quiet night. Most people were sitting in their cars watching the sun go down instead of getting out and walking around the small beach there. I kept saying I was going to get back over there but I just never did.

SkyWatch Friday

A new bird in late October

I had heard he was there for a over a week before I made it down to Fort Desoto. I headed down to the park early one Saturday morning in late October thinking it would be a needle in the haystack story. As I drove into the park I saw several people with binoculars in a field near the boat ramp. After walking through ankle deep ant infested water (the field was flooded due to recent rains) I found the Vermilion Flycatcher. He was out in the open buzzing from tree to tree so it was pretty easy to spot that flash of red unless you weren’t paying attention and thought it was a cardinal. It was the first time I have heard of one being in the Tampa bay area so there were a lot of people coming through that morning looking for him. He’s a beautiful bird and totally worth enduring the over 50 ant bites.

Otherwise, there were just the usual migrating birds at the park. This female rose breasted grosbeak was very accommodating.

The white pelicans are back but they were across the lagoon. You can tell how much bigger they are than our resident brown pelicans.

Osprey have taken over the park. They are everywhere.

Shorebirds near the fishing pier.

TOTO is still hanging out at the park. He’s got a band on his legs with TOTO. I’ve been taking pictures of him for over 8 years. He’s always there with his girlfriend.

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Seafood for breakfast.

The above sandwich tern flew right in front of me and landed with a fish. Adult sandwich terns have that yellow tip on their beak.

He then proceeded to fly around the flock of different birds on the beach looking for his mate or baby. Not sure which. He seemed to be lost and none of the other birds tried to take the fish.

Some of the other babies tried to steal it after a few seconds. Eventually the bird flew off down the beach. He must have come back to the wrong flock on the beach.

This royal tern baby was driving his parents crazy, begging for food. Royal terns have orange beaks and always look like they have a bad hairpiece sticking up.

This lonely willet had a sand flea.

Early May at Fort Desoto

High up in a tree, I watched this yellow warbler stuff himself with snacks.

There were still a few other birds in early May at Fort Desoto including the blackpoll warbler in the last picture.

Frigatebirds were flying high overhead.

At the east end of the park I could just barely make out Downtown St. Petersburg.

Birds at the fishing pier.

Recently I keep seeing parakeets popping out of trees.

The sand trails are covered with these grasshoppers.

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Alligator Alley trail is back open.

Birds up high.

A few down low.

Wild hogs hiding in the bushes. Not sure where the term “pigtails” comes from?

One of the main trails, Alligator Alley, was finally back open after closing in September of 2017. When Hurricane Irma came through, the trail was washed out and a lot of damage was done to that part of the park. The raised trail across the marsh was finally rebuilt and it was great to walk down it again in late January.

Out on the dock you could see the bald cypress trees going bald for the winter.

SkyWatch Friday

Birds on the beach during red tide

There were few birds out on the beach at Fort Desoto when I visited during the peak of the red tide algae bloom. The few there were busy eating breakfast. Some were eating the dead sea life that had washed up on shore. I didn’t see any birds acting sick during this trip. Volunteers were out on the beach every day looking for sick birds that could be affected by eating too much of the dead fish. I kept yelling “Don’t eat that.” but they weren’t listening.

A cormorant and osprey were fighting over a lamp-post on the pier.

Even the crows were eating the dead fish. The park rangers kept raking up the shoreline but the dead fish kept washing up on shore.

Royal terns in the air.

The sandbar spit across the channel was full of birds.

Still a beautiful day out at Fort Desoto.

Honeymoon Island beach before the tourists get here.

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After walking the nature trail at Honeymoon Island State Park, I headed over to the beach to see if there were any shorebirds hanging around.

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The usual birds were there: marbled godwits, royal terns and dowitchers.

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The waves were splashing over the jetties. It was fun to be out in one of the last cool windy days before the heat sets in (and the tourists).

SkyWatch Friday

Morning walk on the beach

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Young royal terns and sandwich terns were yelling at the parents to get them fish.

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Ghost crab on the beach.

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Sandwich terns showing off.

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Young black bellied plovers. I’m not sure if they were fighting or  playing.

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Ibis looking for snacks.

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A hawk flies by on the beach.

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A dolphin goes by out in the gulf.

The last of my Sanibel Island vacation pictures.