In early May I headed down to Fort Desoto Park for one last trip to look for migrating birds. I had heard there were some new birds there. The first bird I find is a hermit thrush, not a new bird for me since I had one in my backyard all winter.
I did find a new bird. This gray-cheeked thrush looked a little like the hermit thrush but was a little bigger. It looks like there were 2 of them at the park, one near the ranger’s house and one at the east beach turnaround.
The bay breasted warblers above are not new but I haven’t seen one since 2018. They were staying deep in the bushes and were hard to get.
I have only seen a golden wing warbler once before in 2016. This one was hanging out at the east beach turnaround and was pretty skittish. We (meaning me and about 20 other birders) were standing far away on the other side of the road waiting for him to show up.
There’s been a lot of scarlet tanagers (above is a female) and indigo buntings at the park this spring.
While we were waiting for the golden winged warbler to show up this female ruby throated hummingbird put on show for us. It was feeding on the dandelions and I was sitting on the ground so it was fairly easy to get a shot but we were still far away.
I walked quickly past this osprey sitting on the trail. I didn’t want to get pooped on.
It was a beautiful morning looking for birds. Spring migration was winding down but there was still a lot of birds there this morning.
I spent a morning at the Safety Harbor fishing pier in late March. It was sunny when I first got there and I could just barely make out this kiteboarder cruising across upper Tampa bay. Tampa was just a shadow in the distance.
A sailboat anchored near the marina.
A cormorant guards the “no wake zone” sign.
Here’s the reason for the No wake and then Slow wake as you leave the marina. Manatees hang out here all year round.
It was low tide and the ibis were picking off tiny crabs.
A snowy egret feeding near the pier.
By the time I was about to leave the sky was dark and it looked like it was going to rain. I headed for my car not wanting to be out on the pier if lightning started but the sky said “Just kidding”. We are in a severe 25 year record drought right now. We are hoping the summer rains start soon.
This is something you don’t see everyday in mid-March. That water was a little chilly, even with a short wetsuit. I was out for a short walk on the Oldsmar pier and saw this guy. It looked like fun but you really need some heavy upper body strength to hold that big sail up. Once he got up he went flying by and across the bay.
It was a quiet morning with only a few willets flying around so I headed over to the Dunedin marina.
These grackles were happily singing the morning away.
The usual beautiful scene from the marina.
The only birds I saw were willets and starlings on the little grassy area.
Also, house sparrows. They were busy taking dirt baths.
I had heard the purple martins were back at the Dunedin marina so one morning I drove around to the front of the marina to see if I could get some shots of them in the bird house. I also found some other birds there as well. The spotted sandpipers will be going back up north soon
Pigeons get no respect but they are pretty when the sun shines on them.
A kingfisher was hanging out on the channel marker at the entrance to the marina.
All of the usual birds were there. Green herons, great egrets and pelicans.
The purple martins were busy moving in to the martin house. It looks like most of them were in couples and had staked out their spots. Last year I found them when the babies were almost fully grown and ready to leave to I’m hoping this year I can see some young babies.
The view from the purple martin house. You can see Clearwater beach across the water. It used to be a quiet little beach area with 2 story Mom and Pop hotels but not anymore. All highrises and the traffic is terrible. Parking is $30 a day. Only the tourists go to this beach now.
I was back at the Dunedin marina in late December for a quick walk (can you tell this is one of my favorite places to walk?). That damaged abandoned boat is still stuck to the channel marker. You can see where it’s cut into the boat. It’s a great place for birds to rest and I caught a green heron sitting on it the morning I was there.
A great egret was fishing through the little hole around the floating piling. I kept seeing him sticking his head down thinking he couldn’t catch even a tiny fish that way but he sure did.
A little blue heron was creeping around the dock, also looking for fish.
There’s always a lot of pelicans around the marina.
I caught this grackle eating some kind of seeds.
I saw this osprey flying across the marina with some sticks and moss in his talons. It’s the start of nesting season for osprey so I thought he was heading to one of the 2 nests in the marina parking lot. He flew around with it for a while. Then it looks like he’s going to land on a light pole that didn’t already have a nest and I’m thinking “What is he doing?”. He did land but then took off across the marina and headed to the nest on a pole at the other end of the marina.
There’s a nest high up in a tree near the boat ramp and another nest across from it on top of a pole. There’s always a lot of osprey flying around so they guard them pretty well during nesting season.
Far out in the water I could see a dolphin coming up every few minutes. I was bummed he didn’t come close to the pier.
My morning walk started out sunny in mid-December. I parked at the marina and walked in the opposite direction of my usual route. I followed the long sidewalk along the water that heads towards Clearwater.
I found another damaged stranded boat. A common sight since Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Eventually this will get hauled out of the water and probably scrapped.
Looking across the water to the left you can see the hotels on Clearwater Beach.
When I got back to the marina and headed for my car I was walking along the sea wall and spotted 2 manatees close by. I love seeing their big squishy snouts coming up for air. I wonder how old the one on the right is with all of those barnacles attached to his back. The barnacles are not parasites and don’t feed on the manatee. They just live on top and are hitching a ride. They can eventually fall off as well.
It was a dark and dreary day during the week before Christmas. I had heard about a rare duck being seen in south St. Pete so I headed out ready to brave the weather. (You northerners will laugh at me. It was 50 degrees and I was bundled up, glad that I wasn’t up there in that crazy snow.) The black scoter had been seen just off the boat ramp at War Veterans Memorial Park. It would be a first sighting for me if I find it.
I hit all of the areas in the park and could not find that duck. The wind was blasting so she might have floated farther south. I noticed a small spoil island that had a lot of pelicans hiding from the wind.
The small beach area at the tip of the park held a few shorebirds. A lone willet was digging for food.
A lone red knot was doing the same.
A semipalmated plover was trying to nap.
More pelicans preening out on a spit.
Not sure if this is because of the extreme low tide or if this boat has been stranded for a while here. It looked a little damaged.
Bay Pines National Cemetery was next door to the park so I stopped in to visit my parents (Dad was in WW2). The graves were decorated with wreaths.
I did not find the black scoter that morning but all was not lost. Weeks later another one was spotted closer to home. More on that one later.
In late November I was finally out with my camera since having my shoulder surgery in early October, I could still only pick up 3lbs so I had my older smaller camera on my lightest lens. All together they were at 3.5 lbs so I was cheating a little but kept the camera in my left hand for most of the time. It felt good to be out walking around with it but I had an old 300mm lens and didn’t have much reach. I headed to the Dunedin marina for a long walk and then pulled the camera out of the car and walked around by the boats for a short while.
There were a few shorebirds at the tiny beach in front of the marina. Willets and ruddy turnstones are always there.
Something spooked these semi-palmated plovers several times.
One of the resident osprey sitting on a sailboat mast. They have a nest right in the parking lot here so I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on the babies this year.
An anhinga resting on the old abandoned boat.
A phone shot, this old sailboat got wedge up against the channel marker during Hurricane Nicole in early November and has been stuck there ever since. It’s a great place for the birds to rest.
A great egret posing nicely.
Pelicans around the marina.
A manatee was right up against the sea wall. This was taken with my phone. The shadows of the railing were a little tough though.
I was on the way home and stopped at a red light when I saw a ton of white pelicans flying high coming towards me. I pulled over into the shopping center and was able to snap the above. This was only a small portion of them. There were at least 4 more of these cruising around the area. It was amazing to watch them swooping around and cruising.
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 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?).