I was out at Fort Desoto in late August and started the long hike to the north tip where most of the shorebirds hang out. The lagoon beach area was full of little birds sleeping including red knots.
They were all taking a morning nap.
I passed a big flock of semipalmated plovers hanging out together on the beach with a few sanderlings mixed in.
They look so cute when they are sleeping.
Marbled godwits have been common along the beach here.
A royal tern flying by with a snack.
I had waded out waist deep in the water to get far enough away to shoot the birds on the beach with the sun at least to the side. It was a little bit cooler doing this and made me realize it was beautiful being out past the sea oats.
Out on the beach while watching the black skimmers feeding their babies I caught an osprey flying by with what I thought was some nesting material. Since it’s late for nesting, I think there’s a small fish in there and he grabbed seaweed with his fish, a nice little salad to go with his sushi.
Other than royal terns bathing, it was a quiet morning.
I stopped by the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary to see if there were any herons or egrets still nesting in the mangrove trees. I found a very young black capped night heron walking around under his nest.
Up above another baby saw Mom fly in nearby and started screaming to be fed.
The baby was going crazy for a while before Mom finally passed that fish over to him.
An older juvenile was watching me take pictures from high up in the trees.
It was a gorgeous morning to be out on the beach in early April.
Far out in the water I could see a willet with a snack.
Terns were cruising by.
Laughing gulls were pairing up.
The rare kittiwake was still on the pier, a week later than when we first found him.
I still kept seeing the same warblers on the trails, a hooded and a black and white. I kept telling myself it was still early for migration here.
After a quiet morning at Fort Desoto Park I headed home but not before stopping by Possum Branch Preserve for a quick walk. Two red shoulder hawks were sitting on the big dead snag outside of the preserve. I guess the hawks are pairing up as well.
A green heron trying to hide in the marsh.
It was pretty quiet at this park as well. I started taking pictures of butterflies since they are starting to be more plentiful. At least I got a good walk in before heading home for lunch.
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.
Early morning at Pine Island beach, north of Tarpon Springs and south of Cedar Key. I had not spent any time in this area and it’s a beautiful quiet area. At least it was in October.
I was hoping to find some new shorebirds here but it was the same old ones that I can find in my usual spots near home.
Fiddler crabs along the shoreline.
Just me and my shadow on the boardwalk, looking out on the gulf.
This is a small beach compared to beaches in the Tampa bay area. It’s a little off the beaten path so it might not get the crowds in the summer that we see on Clearwater beach or St. Pete beach. It was a beautiful morning and I was glad to be out of the house and out on the road.
The drive into the beach is a long 2 lane road with marsh on both sides. The first two shots were looking right and the bottom two were looking left as you drive in. This is why they call this area the “Nature coast”.
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.
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.