It’s rare to see red knots in their bright red breeding colors here in central Florida in mid-May. About a third of them were already in breeding feathers. They usually stop over somewhere in Florida to rest during migration. They fly from the tip of Argentina to the Canadian arctic and then back again each year. They have one of the longest journeys of all migrating birds. We’re lucky to see them here at Fort Desoto although this was the first time I had caught them in several years.
Some were napping early in the morning and some were feeding along the shoreline
Although there wasn’t many people near the area, something kept spooking them and causing them to flush. It could have been an eagle that was cruising the area. These guys really need their rest so it’s important that kids or dogs don’t chase after them.
A female scarlet tanager getting a snack from the fig tree.
The male was not too far away.
I had heard this was a veery. I don’t remember seeing one before but everyone said they aren’t that rare.There were several in the oak trees.
I don’t remember what this was now. A female something? It was also feeding in the fig tree. Might have been an immature tanager.
Another femaile tanager hiding in the bushes by the fountain.
You can always find a ruddy turnstone on the fishing pier.They look really cool right now in their calico colors.
That dolphin photo bombed my “pelican on the broken tower” picture.
Cruising close to the pier.
A beautiful day for just being out.
I love the drive leaving the pier.
Fort Desoto Park was one of the first closed parks to open in early May. I made it there in the middle of the month and it was good to be outside at the beach. We had missed most of the migrating birds that had come through in late April but there was still a few hanging around the morning I was there.
Different patterns on the mangrove leaves along the boardwalk.
I finally was able to see a few migrating birds coming through in late April. Since the best place to see spring migration was closed (Fort Desoto Park) here in the area, we were thinking we wouldn’t get to see any birds coming through. Since some of the smaller parks were still open I was able to see a few birds. They were very skittish and stayed hidden in the bushes. Above are a hooded warbler, a redstart and an ovenbird (or at least I think it’s an ovenbird. May be a thrush of some type?).
I had not been to McGough Nature Park in Largo in years. It’s a small park that sits on the intercoastal waterway. I had heard there were a few migrating birds there so I headed out not expecting much. I had forgotten that the park has this great turtle pond. There’s a small dock that goes out over the pond and benches all around it. Turtles were all along the bank and it was very peaceful watching them hang out.
My Saturday morning “just being outside” shot from the boardwalk.
The star of the spring migration weekend at Fort Desoto was the rose breasted grosbeak. They were everywhere, eating in the mangroves and not shy at all.
The blue winged warbler was also not shy.
More shots of the Tennessee warbler although we think there were several there.
A prothonotary warbler hopping around.
I had to take some phone shots of the crowd. “What are you guys looking at?” was what we heard from people passing by. We were in the far corner of the park so there wasn’t a lot of traffic. It was actually a lot of fun with people calling out what they see. Everyone was quiet and friendly.
A secluded spot at the park.
Fall out is an exciting term for birders. It means a storm came through earlier and the birds stopped to spend a few days in the park resting and eating before finishing their trip back up north for the summer.
Summer Tanagers only come through the Tampa bay area twice a year during spring and fall migration. The only place I can usually find them during that time is in the woods at Fort Desoto. In mid-April the woods were full of them including young ones that were just starting to turn red and still had some of their yellow baby feathers.
Female summer tanagers are all yellow.
A few of the orange and black birds were there including the orchard oriole and the American redstart above.
The female orchard oriole is also all yellow.
A cute little wood pewee.
A Tennessee warbler.
Also flying in the mangroves.
Most of the birds on this particular Saturday morning were feeding in the mangrove bushes along the road. Huge crowds had gathered to see the birds and the people who were coming into the park to fish or hit the beach were slowing down trying to figure out what we were all staring at. People would stop in their cars and ask us what we were looking at. “Birds” was the answer. They looked at us like we were crazy. It was a fun morning to be crazy.
Female indigo buntings don’t have any blue at all.
Scarlet tanagers have black wings.
A rare western kingbird.
A painted bunting foraging for food on the ground.
We had great fall out the 3rd weekend in April for migrating birds. After a storm on Friday afternoon, I headed out to Fort Desoto park to see if any of the spring migrating birds had stopped by for a rest. Everyone else had the same idea. Even though there were a ton of people at the park there were lots of birds as well. It’s always fun running into old friends at the park in the spring and having more eyes to spot birds.This was the busiest weekend this spring and I spent most of the day there with lots more pictures to come.
An immature male rose breasted grosbeak with mulberry juice on his face.
An ovenbird on the fountain.
A blackpoll warbler hanging around.
An indigo bunting.
There were still a few interesting birds moving through Fort Desoto in early May, heading north for the summer. It feels like that was so long ago. I’m just finishing editing those pictures and soon the birds will be cruising through again, this time heading south for the winter. So many birds, so little time.
I hadn’t seen cedar waxwings in years. They are somewhat rare here and only a few come through during spring migration. I saw one hiding deep in the bushes and was a little bummed he was not visible. Later in my walk a flock of them quickly flew by and one stopped for a few second right in front of me. They are beautiful birds.
A rare western kingbird. I’ve only seen these once before in the area in the last 9 years. At first I thought it was a great crested flycatcher which are more common but realized later it was a kingbird.
All of the usual birds that are at Possum Branch Preserve.
Not sure what this little yellow bird it. I’m thinking it’s an immature palm warbler.
Other little critters along the lake (besides alligators).
These were all taken at Possum Branch Preserve, a small watershed, near my home in mid-April.