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.
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.
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.