It was early June and the call went out that Raptor Center of Tampa Bay needed help with some transports. I was ready for a road trip. The above juvenile great blue heron had been injured and needed to go to Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores Beach, just under an hour away. Nancy put him in the tote. I was a little nervous around that big beak. He settled down pretty quickly.
Since the great blue heron took up most of the trunk the almost grown barred owls went in the back seat. There were 3 altogether. Two were siblings and were in the crate while the younger one was in a carry box. These guys along with the bunny below went to the rehabber (Penny) that lives in south St. Pete. The owls are almost ready to be released and Penny will get them ready.
This little cutie sat in the front seat and only barely stirred a few times on the trip.
A few days later a young osprey had fallen out of the nest and could not be re-nested so I drove him down to Penny to raise until he can be released. Nancy told me that all of these osprey growing up on platforms is not a good thing. It’s better for osprey to nest in big trees and then the babies can hop around from branch to branch before flying (just like eagles). Most osprey in Pinellas county now nest on utility towers or platforms placed by utility companies to keep them off the towers. Just like most other counties the over population means so many trees are being cut down for homes and buildings. On platforms the babies start flapping and fall right to the ground. The parents won’t feed the babies once they are on the ground and many of them have some type of injury. The baby was calm in Nancy’s arm even though she managed a few yells before going in the transport box.
Another few days went by and there were more juvenile osprey on the ground. I picked up two of them at Nancy’s (of Raptor Center of Tampa Bay) in Brandon and headed down to Save Our Seabirds in Sarasota. All of the rehabbers are full of birds and they could only take one osprey.
I have been here to visit the sanctuary as a tourist several times but it was the first time to come through the emergency back door. I was able to see the clinic for a few minutes but they were crazy busy so I left to make my next drop off.
It was a beautiful day to be out on the bridges. First coming back on the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota and then across the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
I dropped the final osprey off at Penny’s. She took her out of the crate and she didn’t seem afraid of her at all. If all goes well she’ll be released soon.
There are some great benches here at the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Right in front of this huge milkweed bush. The bush was covered in monarch caterpillars in mid-March. I sat for a while waiting for butterflies to come by but there wasn’t many flying around this morning.
This squirrel came over and sat near me and started eating something. He was the only interesting thing there so I left and headed over to McGough Park.
I couldn’t find any birds in the area around the turtle ponds and the turtles were already snoozing so I didn’t stay too long here either. I figured at this point I was close to the beach so I decided on a quick stop at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary.
The injured pelicans were doing their morning flaps or taking a bath.
I could barely make out the baby great egrets high up in the trees over the exhibits. They had long outgrown the tiny nests they were growing up in but you could still see their pin feathers when they flapped their wings so they were not quite ready to start flying yet.
NIght herons were still sitting on nests although there was a lot of baby ones (the last one in brown and white with orange eyes) all over the sanctuary.
This night heron was showing the way to the shade garden although it’s really just a lot of overgrown mangroves.
I’m finally getting around to posting the additional pictures from my visit to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in late January. The wild great egrets were just starting to nest in the trees over the exhibits. They nest here since the eggs will be somewhat safe from predators and they may get a free snack.
This night heron was sleeping in the mangrove trees. It was a little chilly this morning so he had his face tucked in.
The sanctuary has tons of young night herons since the night herons also nest in the trees and they also nest over the nettings that enclose some of the injured birds. The juveniles look very different from their parents. They are funny to watch and act like clowns.
Looks like one of the injured oystercatchers has a broken wing.
The view from the observation tower at the back of the sanctuary. It’s a rare sight to see the beach so empty. It was chilly and spring break hadn’t started.
I was meeting a friend for lunch over at the beach and stopped at nearby Seaside Seabird Sanctuary for a quick walk. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates over 10,000 birds a year and most get released but some are permanently disabled and live their lives out here. Many are missing wings, eyes or parts of their beaks. I noticed in the one of the pelican enclosures that they were starting to nest. When the babies are born they are released into the wild. It looks like one of the pelicans didn’t understand the nest concept.
Some of the couples were just starting to get frisky in late January. It looks like the lady was missing an eye.
This one in the back of the enclosure was stretching his mouth. He was also missing an eye.
They release injured birds once they are better (some may have gotten sick from red tide) and I happened to be there the afternoon they were doing a big release. Since the sanctuary sits right on the beach they are able to set them free right here.
The volunteers walked the pelicans down to the shore and let them go. Most took off immediately but a few hung around the beach for a while before flying away. I’m sure for the volunteers it makes all the work worthwhile to see them fly away. If you notice they are all holding the pelican’s beak open as they carry them out to the beach. Pelicans don’t have noses. They breath through their beaks so it’s important that someone rescuing an injured pelican doesn’t hold the beak closed.
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.
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.