We always say that we stay away from the beaches on a major holiday weekend. We broke our own rule on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. We decided to go spend a few hours in the morning at Fort Desoto Park and then swing by to visit Brett’s aunt since her nursing home is close by. We were there before 9am and left before lunch. The crowds were thick before we left.
Sea hares in the water and on the beach.
A manatee cruising by the fishing pier.
On the fishing pier, I caught this dragonfly resting on a fishing pole. This poor shrimp was bait.
Ships passing by the pier and snowy egrets hanging out on the shelter.
We took the scenic route over to St. Pete beach before heading to visit his aunt.
These 2 almost fully grown snowy egrets were going crazy when Mom showed up with breakfast. She sat there for a few minutes before feeding them and they kept trying to climb over to her.
Eventually she was ready to pass the fish over to them. Mom brings the food in her mouth and then passes it over. I’m surprised eyes don’t get poked out.
The sibling was screaming for food next so off she went to get another fish. At this point the babies are big enough to leave alone. They don’t really stay on the tiny nest but hang out in the branches close by. These guys were probably flying pretty soon after I took these at Gatorland,
Tricolored herons are always fun to watch. They are really pretty when they are ready to mate. I mean, how many other animals have their legs turn from gray to bright pink in the spring?
Snowy egrets are always making a fuss.
The great egrets were also showing off with those red eyes.
This is a sad story but happens in nature. There was a nest near the boardwalk with three almost grown babies that had apparently been abandoned by the parents. Maybe something happened to the lone parent? Meanwhile, a mean adult snowy egret decided it wanted that nest instead of building her own and she was going to steal it from the babies. She spent all morning trying to push the babies off the nest. One had been poked in the face and was bleeding. The sad thing is that if the original parents did not come back, those 3 babies were probably going to starve. They are too young to feed themselves. They were sticking together and fighting off the intruder. She eventually left that morning but may have come back later to try again. Gatorland won’t interfere because it’s common for this to happen in nature. I’ve seen it happen before in a park where we couldn’t reach the nest. It’s a tough life out there for these birds.
Young great egrets are being fed by mom. The parents swallow the fish and then regurgitate the fish back up into the baby’s beak. Doesn’t that sound yummy?
A young cormorant was begging mom to feed him.
The youngest babies at the park that day. They are 1 or 2 day old snowy egrets. The parents were going to be busy feeding 3 babies. You can just barely see the fish eyes coming out of the mom’s beak. Looks like she had a beak full of minnows.
All morning long the babies yell to be fed. The tiny ones like in the last pictures aren’t so bad since they are so small and don’t quite know what’s going on yet. The bigger babies such as the top great egret pictures are obnoxious. They are really loud and flap their wings until they are fed. When the parent flies over to the nest they attack them. The parents keep feeding them though. All of the above were from my trip to Gatorland in May.
Scruffy looking baby egrets. I think these were snowy egrets.
Baby blue herons sticking close together.
Baby anhingas already grown up.
Tiny baby wood stork on the nest.
Baby great egrets in various stages of growing up.
I was watching this almost grown baby great egret exercising his wings. I don’t think he had fledged yet. He kept practicing flapping but never made it off the bush. He was probably gone in another day or so.
It’s fun watching the baby birds grow up in the bushes along the lake at Gatorland. The trip in late May provided babies from all stages of growing up.
Cattle egrets have their flirting makeup on.
The tricolored herons were showing off as well.
The snowy egrets were still in the early flirting stage.
The storks across the lake already had their babies.
This great blue heron was too busy stuffing his face to care about nesting.
I love the way the birds all change colors during the nesting season. Their feathers and faces get brighter. I didn’t make it to Gatorland in Orlando this year until early May. This was my 7th spring to visit the bird rookery there over the alligator lake. The great egrets nest first and most of those babies were already grown. Cattle egrets and snowy egrets were just having their babies. Tricolored herons were sitting on nests but didn’t have any babies yet. It’s always fun to see the birds all interacting together. And yes, I took a ton of pictures that morning so there’s more to come.
Snowy egrets waiting for a handout from a fisherman.
Cormorants keeping an eye on things from up high.
The juvenile reddish egret is still hanging around the pier.
The usual oystercatcher couple trying to stand out in the crowd.
A sandwich tern taking a bath.
A young sandwich tern still screaming for Mom to bring a snack.
A laughing gull with a shell.
Lots of different birds hanging around the fishing pier at Fort Desoto.
The snowy egrets are always putting on a show at the fishing pier. They are hanging around waiting for the fishermen to turn their backs on their bait buckets so they can steal the little minnows. Sometimes the fisherman will clean their fish on the pier and the egrets try to steal the scraps. There are signs saying not to throw the scraps in the water or to the birds but some people still do it. Then the ones that don’t are annoyed by the birds being aggressive.
A sting ray cruises by the pier in the shallow water.
Dolphins feeding around the pier.
Looks like he caught a little shark.
It was a beautiful morning to watch the big boats from the pier at Fort Desoto.
The dolphins were active, coming close to the pier. They were stealing the fish from the fishing lines. People were not happy that the dolphins were stealing the fish off their lines. You’d see a guy realizing he had something on his line. He’d start to reel it in and then you’d see the dolphin coming up behind it. When the guy reeled in his line the fish and bait fish were gone. I wonder if the dolphins swallow the hooks. Does it bother them? They eat whole fish with bones and all so I guess it’s okay as long as they don’t get it stuck in their mouth. People on the pier get mad at the dolphins but hey, they are the ones stealing the dolphin’s food.
Dolphin on the bottom right flipping his tail as the boat goes by. The gulls were going after any trailing bait fish that was left behind when they pulled up their nets onto the boat.
Everybody wants to hitch a ride in a boat, including snowy egrets. They were probably hoping the guys would turn their back on the bait fish they just pulled up in their boat.
‘Hey, get your own boat!” says the snowy egret on the motor.
Another beautiful Saturday morning at Fort Desoto.