I made a trip down to Fort Desoto Park in August to look for a bird. Not just any bird but one I had not seen before. A Wilson’s phalarope had been reported there for several days. I made my usual stop on the bridge going into the park and snapped the above with my phone.
I headed out to North beach and figured that even if I didn’t find the new bird it would be a great morning out.
The new bird looked a lot like the above but no, these were plain ole willets. They are common here along the beaches.
A great egret flies by.
After looking around for the new bird I walked north on the beach and found the white morph reddish egret. He’s a regular here if you can find him along the beach. He was dancing around looking for fish so even though I have a ton of pictures of him I took more (because you know, you can never have too many pictures of the same bird).
A cargo ship goes by.
Some black skimmers came flying by and one went skimming along checking out his reflection.
A cute little piping plover was walking around. He had quite a bit of bling on his legs.
A tricolored heron posed for me.
Snowy egrets lined up on the fishing pier. They were waiting for a fisherman to pull up bait fish.
A shot of the Sunshine Skyway bridge taken right into the sun.
Before leaving I stopped at the East Beach turnaround and shot the above with my phone. And no, I didn’t find that Wilson’s phalarope. There were several others there also looking for it and no one could find it again. I was right though, it was still a great morning out.
I keep seeing downy woodpeckers and chickadees on the feeder at the same time.
I think this chickadee was going to tell me to get better seed.
I’ve been seeing baby bluebirds bouncing around in the backyard. I’ve seen 4 at one time but it’s hard to get more than one through the window. They are very skittish and take off if I go out in the back.
The doves were napping under the bird bath.
I think this is the first time I’ve seen a lizard shedding his skin.
Sunset in the lake across the street.
I usually stop at the lake as I’m getting the mail and one night I saw a lone skimmer cruising around right before dark. This was taken with my phone, which I usually have in my pocket. I went out there the next 2 nights with my camera but didn’t see him again.
Tricolored herons and anhingas are usual in the lake, getting that last meal before dark.
I caught this tern flying overhead right at dark. I think it’s a Caspien tern.
I headed down to Fort Desoto at the end of August not expecting much. As I headed out to the north beach I was greeted by a few spoonbills. I rarely see them here and in fact it was probably last fall when they were in the same spot. I wonder if these are the same ones that have stopped by for a rest.
I found a few red knots hanging out with one of the resident reddish egrets.
A red knot still in breeding feathers.
The best part of the morning was seeing an uncommon avocet. It wasn’t really a surprise though. I had heard 2 were here but wasn’t counting on actually finding it so it was a bonus to walk up on it. I didn’t see the other one although it may have been hiding in the sanctuary close by. There were 3 that hung out here last fall and I was able to catch those on 2 visits.
A young skimmer fluffing up his feathers.
A dunk and a catch.
Looking over through the sea oats over to Egmont Key in the distance. If you look close in the right hand side, you can see an osprey sitting on a branch on the beach.
Skimmers cruising by trying to catch fish in their beaks.
This gull’s fish could barely fit in his beak.
Snowy egrets hovering over the light poles on the fishing pier. Different perspective which is a reminder to not stand under one of these poles if there’s a bird on top or you’ll get a bird poop shower.
Harry the hybrid looking pretty with his blue breeding face.
A few of the dolphins swimming around the pier including the Mom with her baby close by.
Looks like some construction far out in the bay.
I rarely see shrimp boats in the bay. It reminds me of vacations with my family in the panhandle. We saw them often up in north Florida.
I stopped by St. Pete beach in mid July thinking that all of the skimmer babies would be almost grown up and starting to fly but there was one little baby still remaining. They were outside the roped off area near the seaweed line. The baby stayed close to Mom.
There was one other baby that was bigger but still staying close to Mom. All of the rest of the older babies were down along the water line practicing their wing flapping.
One of the laughing gulls had gotten a hold of a snack from someone and all of the other gulls were chasing him trying to steal it. Not even a cheese cracker is safe on the beach.
I stopped at Sand Key park on the way home and there were several eastern kingbirds near the beach.
“I am Skippy the Skimmer and I am the cutest one here.”
“This is my fish.”
“I’m Sparky the Skimmer and I am a little bit older. I’m starting to get color in my feathers and my beak is getting longer.”
“Where’s my Mom? You’re not suppose to bother me, Least tern.” said the baby skimmer. “But you look tasty and I’m hungry” said the juvenile Least tern.
“Stay away from my baby!” said the adult skimmer.
“You stay away as well”
“I’m sticking close to mom”.
“Who me? I’m not going anywhere.”
“Mom, where’s my fish?”
“I pretend to be brave but now I’m scared and running to hide under Mom.”
“I’m Stanley, one of the oldest babies skimmers here. I’m almost grown up and just learning to fly. I’m also learning to brake.”
I didn’t make it to see the baby black skimmers until late July. I was expecting to see them all grown up but this was a late year and there were still many tiny babies. The babies have a lot against them. Between the tourists getting too close, the crows and laughing gulls trying to get a meal and the risk of high tide, it’s a hard knock life for a little bird. If the tiny babies wander away from the roped off area, a tourist could easily not see him blending into the sand and step on him. If we get another bad storm like Colin back in early June, the tide could get too high and the little babies can’t swim yet or fly away. But, hopefully most make it through. I took so many pictures of these cute little guys so there are tons more to come.
He wasn’t quite sure at first but then it was lift off!
He was flying right at me. This must be one of the first skimmers born this spring. Already flying a few months later.
This one was ready for a nap.
This juvenile was still getting fish from his parent.
This may be one of the first-born. He seemed pretty confident as he flew by me. He’s already got a lot of black in his wings and his beak is changing.
I didn’t see him get a fish but it was fun to watch him skimming.
I had not planned to go back and visit the skimmers again this spring but I happened to be nearby one morning with hubby and we decided to stop in. I saw a few of the baby skimmers old enough to fly. It was mid-August and the oldest ones were probably born sometime near the end of June. It was right before lunch and the beach was already busy with people walking by and playing so it was a little crazy. I was hoping to see more babies down by the water but the foot traffic kept them closer to the roped off area. I was able to see one baby skim along the water but he was so close to me that I couldn’t fit him all in. I’d like to say this is my last trip until next year but you never know.