North Shore Park

The tiny beach at North Shore Park, near downtown St. Petersburg was not as welcoming as these pictures look. They had just raked the beach of the dead fish from red tide but the fish were still floating up on the beach. At least the smell wasn’t bad and it was such a beautiful Saturday morning. The storms were coming in a little early since this was right before lunch.

The resident hybrid great egret/great blue heron was lurking around, trying to find a live fish to eat. Most of the birds don’t eat the dead fish but a few do and they get sick. The bird rescues are all full of sick fish from the red tide.

I stopped at Crescent Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk to look for otters. No luck on the otters but I did see the above in the vegetation in the lake. A juvenile little blue heron, a great blue heron, a blue jay, a snowy egret and a green heron.

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Hovering for fish

Standing on top of the lookout tower at Lettuce Lake, a snowy egret cruises by down below. I walked down a flight to get a closer look.

 

There were several snowy egrets feeding right in front of the tower. It was funny to watch them skimming the water as they were looking for fish. Sometimes it felt like they were hovering over the water. Sometimes they were successful and sometimes they missed. They did this for a while before one by one they all started to fly away.

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Typical birds at the fishing pier

I headed out for a walk at Fort Desoto on a Saturday morning in early June. It was a nice morning out but only the usual birds were at the pier. It’s always fun to see the prehistoric looking pelicans.

You can usually see osprey up close on the pier.

The snowy egrets were fighting over the bait fish that the fisherman were pulling up in their nets. When the fishermen shake out the bait fish into their buckets, a few fish usually land on the pier and the egrets squabble over them and occasionally a great blue heron gets in on the fight.

On the way home I saw a few frigatebirds cruising over the pond outside of the park. Of course I pulled over and got a few shots as they cruised by.

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The bird rookery

Catching a little blue heron lift off.

Snowy egrets were showing off.

Baby great egrets were screaming for Mom to feed them.

The sky over the Tampa rookery was busy in early April. It was like standing at the airport during the holidays watching the planes take off.

The cormarants and anhingas are usually high up in the trees but I saw this anhinga sitting on a nest low on the other side of the rookery.

There were many other birds at the rookery besides the usual egrets and herons. A night heron, a female red winged blackbird and a catbird were also sighted. I was excited to see the glossy ibis here in the bottom picture but it looked like the couple was working on a nest on the backside of the rookery so seeing little glossy babies is a slim chance.

A quick walk after work.

At the end of October, before the time changed, I could get out for a quick walk after work before dark. I headed over Safety Harbor hoping to get some lightning shots. I could see the storms south of the causeway but they were heading towards Tampa.

Since it was low tide, there were a few birds walking around in the muck right off the fishing pier, probably eating crabs.

The mangrove crabs are very skittish but I manage to catch a few of them scurrying away.

The big beautiful oak tree in front of the library. There’s usually a lot of people in the tiny park here but I think the threat of storms kept everyone at home.

Walking around by the yacht basin, I saw an eagle sitting on one of the poles. I was able to snap the above before he took off. I know they nest near Philippe Park north of here but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one in the fishing pier area.

Even though lights were showing the way to the boardwalk, it was starting to drizzle so I headed home.

A snowy egret convention?

If you walk down the fishing pier at Fort Desoto, you may see all of these snowy egrets lined up on the railings. Is there an egret convention going on?  No, they are waiting for a boat to come close to the pier to pull up bait fish. They must have seen the boat below coming close to the pier and were hoping for a handout.

A few of the egrets immediately fly down and land on the motor or the boat. They squabble over the best spot on the boat (don’t humans do that too?). They wait for the guys on the boat to haul up a net full of bait fish and then hope to get any of the fish that fall out of the net onto the boat.

Some of them are brave enough to steal some out of the bait bucket if they guys aren’t watching closely. This one above got a free handout.

A common sight on boats around the fishing pier. They usually fly off once the boat takes off.

Fort Desoto in July

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.

Pretty vines growing on the sand.

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“You’re in my spot”

It was fun watching the snowy egrets running around trying to catch the little bait fish along the shoreline at Fort Desoto.

At some point they started fighting over the best fishing spots.These two chased each other for a while. Or, maybe they were flirting. Nesting season is almost over so I’m sticking with fighting for the best spot.

Not only was it the best spot to catch the little fish, it was a great spot to watch the clouds roll in, even from the sandbar. Early in the morning in June it was quiet for a while.

SkyWatch Friday

A beautiful bird

It was a quiet morning at Fort Desoto in late June.  I was there very early so there wasn’t many people on the beach.  I found one of the local reddish egrets dancing around hunting for fish and couldn’t help but take a ton of pictures of him. He uses his wings to shade the water so he can see the fish better so it appears as if he’s dancing. He puts on quite a show.

All of a sudden he realizes that two snowy egrets have moved in on his spot.

He tried to chase them away but then ended up flying far down the beach.

Lots of birds at the rookery.

There’s something comical about baby anhingas. They were yelling for Mom to feed them and I could hear them from far across the pond.

A great egret waiting for her offspring to arrive.

A little blue heron was still flirting, trying to attract a mate.

Snowy egrets showing off.

Crazy antics at the bird rookery in north Tampa in May.

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