Osprey day at Fort Desoto Park

I was up and out the door while it was still dark, heading for Fort Desoto Park. The sun was just coming up when I got there so I stopped at the East Beach turnaround to snap a few pictures with my phone before heading to the beach to look for birds.

I was out on the beach taking pictures of the reddish egret when I noticed this osprey coming in toward the beach with some dead branches in his talons. Looks like he was heading for a nest.

There are so many osprey at the park now. They are everywhere and are either adding to the nest or sitting on eggs. The one above had a half eaten fish and was flying in circles around me. It think he was being chased by another osprey.

This one was being harassed by a mockingbird while trying to eat his fish.

There are two different nest fairly close to each other and they were both screaming non-stop.

This  nest is on top of the old smoke stack. She was constantly screaming as well.

Hopefully there will be lots of baby osprey soon.

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A beautiful morning out

I love coming down to North Shore Park to walk. It sits on the bay side of St. Pete and the water is usually pretty calm. There’s a long paved trail that’s always busy with joggers and walkers. Occasionally I find an interesting bird.

Far out across the bay you can barely make out two dolphins coming up for air as they cruise by the pelicans. Even from far away it’s cool to see the dolphins.

The tide was low and the birds were pretty far out in the muck.

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Nature in early October

Is it fall yet?  It was cool on the morning I was at Chinsegut Wildlife area in early October. Only 75 degrees at 8am. It warmed up quick but was a nice change from the summer heat.

It actually felt a little like fall even though it was warm.

Color along the trail.

Heading down to the lake, I thought these fallen logs covered in moss were interesting. Nature’s artwork?  Out at the lake it was quiet.

A few little critters. The first is a cicada which are usually hard to spot although you can easily hear them. This one landed in the tree right in front of me.

There wasn’t many birds at the feeders. Only a lone chickadee. I think there’s more food for them out in the wild at this point in the season.

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An early morning walk

I left the house in the dark in early October, heading north to Chinsegut Wildlife trail. It’s only an hour away but feels like a completely different place. I made some quick stops along the way, taking shots of the light coming up over the trees and through the fog.

Right before the trail I saw this old building. At first I thought it was a house but it might have been some type of small factory or type of barn. There were trees growing in the middle of the building. I had to stop and get a shot of it. As I was taking some pictures with my phone, some crows flew out of the building. I thought “Is it Halloween already?”

When I got to the conservation center to park the sun was just coming up. I hadn’t been out for a long walk in a while and it felt good to be out in the woods.

Due to a lot of recent rain, things were pretty swampy. I had on a lot of bug spray so I was able to linger a while and listen to the swamp sounds.

It looked a little like fall with a few red leaves but I would suspect that they are really from the trees being so flooded for a while.

I found a sandhill crane family near the parking area and junior was almost grown up. He didn’t quite have a full red head yet though. They walked around for a while, picking off some bird seed in the ground feeder and then eventually headed into the woods.

 

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“Here comes the sun”

It wasn’t dark but the sun had not come up when I arrived at the beach at Fort Desoto in late March. The time had just recently changed and it was still dark after 7am so it wasn’t that early. Still, I was all alone on the beach with the exception of a great blue heron.

After a few minutes the sun was slowly starting come up over the bridge and the birds started to fly around.

Then minutes later it rose quickly and the pelicans were diving in the water for fish.

I turned around to head out to the other side of the park to look for birds and noticed the flag at half staff over the palm trees.

Good thing I had my shoes on. The beach had a lot of these spiky sea urchins as the tide was coming back in.

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A chilly morning at Fort Desoto

“I caught one this big” said the osprey as he landed on his nest.

Actually, he was bringing in sticks to spruce up the nest.

It’s amazing what you see when you are standing around waiting for baby birds to wake up. This Prairie warbler flew right in front of me.

Turning around, the coast guard was sitting right off the beach.

I eventually got tired of waiting for the baby birds to wake up and headed over to North beach to see what was over there (I don’t have a lot of attention span and was also trying to get some exercise so I needed to keep walking). All of the usual birds were there.

On the fishing pier, Harry the hybrid (great blue heron x great egret) was having a scratch.

It was a beautiful morning in late February.

Not many people out early in the morning (just us photogs) and it was a little chilly.

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A sad story on a beautiful afternoon

It was a beautiful afternoon in late January and I was able to get outside for a little while on a late Friday before sunset. I jumped in the car and headed over to Dunedin, thinking I would stop by the fishing pier and then go over for a quick walk at the causeway. I was snapping the shot of the water when I turned around and noticed the two osprey that had built a nest on top of the building next to the pier.  I was pretty excited to see the camera up on the top but when I got home and searched it, you could only see over the building so the camera wasn’t look down on the nest. Would have been fun to watch that nest up close.

I found this cute little boat in the marina that I hadn’t seen before.

I headed over to the beach area on the causeway and saw the sailboat that has washed up back in November during Hurricane ETA. I had seen many pictures of it posted on the internet, people climbing and playing on it. They had it roped off which didn’t make for a pretty picture. I have since heard that it was hauled away a few weeks after I took this. The state of these old damaged sailboats are sad. At some point years ago, someone paid a lot of money for this boat. Probably used it at first. Then it sits out there for a long time and becomes a hazard. The owner, if they had insurance, probably just collected and moved on. Many people with these old boats let their insurance lapse and the city pays for the haul. Not sure if they can sell them for scrap.

On a sad note, at the end of the causeway, a dead dolphin had washed up on shore hours before I arrived. Everyone was standing around watching the marine life rescue team (with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where Winter the flipperless dolphin resides) get him ready to be taken away. They will do a necropsy on him to find out the cause of death. Was he old? Sick?  Eaten something bad? Hit with a boat? Swallowed too many fish hooks from stealing fish from the fishermen at the pier? So many questions.  Everyone was watching from a respectful distance. It was sad to watch these volunteers do their work.

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Sunset in the fall.

I peeked out the window right after work and saw the sun out with no clouds which hadn’t happened in a while so I jumped in my car with my camera and headed out to Cypress Point. It was a nice cool breezy night out.

The sun was going down on the picnic area.

The tide was really low so I could go behind this little tree area.

This is the perfect time of year here. Cool weather, low tides so you can walk out far and clear skies.

Heading back to my car right before the end, I turned around and took this with my phone.

Out and about one afternoon

I headed out to Fort Desoto late in the afternoon in early November. There wasn’t a lot of birds around later in the day but it was a beautiful afternoon.

Way out in the bay,

The sun was started to get lower at my favorite spot.

I drove over to the gulf pier before leaving.

Looking back at the old smoke stack.

Silhouettes of birds flying near the pier.

The sun still had a ways to go and I had to get home so I quickly snapped the above.

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Just catching sunrise.

I use to set my alarm to get up early on the weekends but lately my internal alarm has been going off early and I got out of bed one Saturday morning in November and headed to Circle B Bar Reserve. Although, not that early since the sun was just peaking out as I hit the trails. It’s the perfect time to be there, quiet and not many people there yet. You can hear the birds starting to talk and the whistling ducks were starting to fly back and forth.

One of my favorite views in the morning.

There wasn’t a lot of different birds out. The usuals were there (moorhens, whistlers, herons, egrets, cormorants) but I didn’t see many uncommon birds. The above are fairly common in the winter (female common yellowthroat, house wren and the purple gallinules) but sometimes a little bit harder to find.

Some of the smaller critters along the trail.

The eagle’s nest is pretty far away but I could still see both eagles on the nest. Maybe she’s looking at her eggs in the nest?  Might have been a little early but soon.

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