Early spring migration at Fort Desoto

It was a beautiful morning when I got to Fort Desoto Park in early April. I stopped by the East Beach turnaround to get a shot of the sun coming up over the bay. I had high hopes for seeing some migrating birds that has stopped by but it was still a little too early for spring migration. Last April we had a really slow migration with hardly any birds stopping by so I’m hoping we don’t have a repeat.

A pileated woodpecker was the first bird I saw, high up in a tree.

A hooded warbler and a black and white warbler with a snack. Normally I would be excited but I had  just seen both of these in my backyard.

There were at least 3 prothonotary warblers in a big bush in front of the water fountain being very cooperative. It was the only other migrating bird we saw that morning. There were a lot of people out looking. Again, it was still early in the month.

An opsrey was eating a fish in the tree behind the prothonotary warbler. I had to take a shot before heading to the gulf fishing pier for a quick walk before heading home.

I got to the fishing pier and saw the reddish egret that has the white wings fly by.

There were a lot of birds at the little beach next to the fishing pier. The usual gulls, terns and oystercatchers.  But there was something else that looked different.

A rare kittiwake was sitting there with the other birds. After a while I realized a ton of people were at the pier taking pictures of him as well. This is only my 2nd kittiwake sighting. Back in 2013 I was able to see the immature one at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge fishing pier. I had heard there was one seen in 2017 and this was the 3rd sighting recorded in Pinellas county ever. People were phoning and texting friends and by noon a big crowd had formed.  Everyone gave him space and stayed off the beach area. They even stopped tourists from walking through the area. Twice he took off and flew down the pier and came back on the beach.

Laughing gulls were fighting over stolen bait fish (the one on the left has one in his beak).

A boat cruises by the lighthouse on Egmont Key.

SkyWatch Friday

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.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

 

The welcoming committee

The welcoming committee at Chinsegut Wildlife Area. This is the 3rd time I’ve seen these sandhill cranes hanging around the nature center. One is a juvenile and didn’t quite have the red on his face this past summer. It’s great to see the family is still together. I’m assuming they nest somewhere  on the lake here.

Later when I was leaving they were hanging around the parking area and I snapped this with my phone.

I’m sure these are some type of weed but they were really pretty along the trail.

It was foggy when I first got there but wore off as the sun got higher.

SkyWatch Friday

Early morning on the beach.

I got to Fort Desoto Park after the sun had come up but it was hiding behind a big cloud. I was able to catch the orange glow behind the cloud though, right over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

I was hoping to find the big flock of white pelicans who had been hanging out at the park for weeks now but I could only find 2 out at the north end. 

I know I have a million pictures of the reddish egret but I can’t help stopping and snapping a few more when he’s dancing around for his fish. He was hanging out in a tide pool and was putting on a show.

A few other birds on the beach was a turkey vulture cleaning up the beach eating a dead fish and a great blue heron strutting around.

I was walking on a back trail hoping to find the white pelicans in the back lagoon and saw this eagle flying in to a tree right in front of me. He landed in a dead tree which was good since he would have been hidden in the leaves if the the tree was still alive. He stayed for a few seconds and grabbed a branch before taking off. Assuming he was heading back to the nest across the park.

Pelicans flying across the clouds.

I stopped by the fishing pier before leaving but it was quiet. I couldn’t help but snap the cormorant drying his wings and then I noticed this crow trying to eat a piece of paper. He played with it for a few minutes but finally realized he couldn’t eat it so he dropped it in the water. Ugh. More trash.

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The moon was still up

There’s something magical about being at Circle B Bar Reserve when the sun is coming up. Besides it not being crowded or hot yet, the birds and critters are very active this early in the morning. It was my first time back since April and it felt good to be out on the trails. I usually don’t come during the summer because it is so hot and the main trails are closed due to alligators nesting on them.

Turning around, I could see the moon still up in the sky.

Of course I had to stop and take pictures of my favorite spot before heading down the trails. The last one is with my phone and you can see how big the marsh is on this trail.

The great blue heron was sitting right on the trail. I walked right under him and he didn’t move. I stopped and snapped the 2nd one with my phone so you can see how close he was.

After passing him I turned around to see if he had flown off. Nope, he’s still there watching the sun come up.

A few fly bys. A night heron and a pair of cormorants.

Some of the tiny birds, a common yellowthroat (who looks more like a masked bandit) and some blue gray gnatcatchers.

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Waking up on a golf course

The golf course behind our home was closed for maintance the first few weeks we were here. One morning I got up right before the sun came up and went out for a walk. I had been seeing people jogging or walking on the cart path and knew that would all stop once the course opened back up again. I am not a golfer. My husband plays golf (when he has the time which is rarely) and I’ve ridden with him in the cart when he plays when we are on vacation but it was strange to walk out the back door and be on the cart path. I only walked a few holes and passed several ponds and tons of birds. Now the course is open and I can still go out early in the morning and walk along the tree line but need to stay out of the way once the golfers come through (we’re on the 13th hole so it takes a while for them to get to our hole in the morning).

Across the street from our townhome is a big pond (with a few alligators swimming around) and I’ve been trying to catch the sunset here.

SkyWatch Friday

The big orange dot

 

I was at the Safety Harbor fishing pier for sunrise in the early part of September taking shots of that big orange ball coming up.

At first Brett was like “Maybe you shouldn’t go to the pier in the dark alone.” I knew I wouldn’t be alone since this is a popular spot for sunrises. Not to mention the early joggers that are there. I didn’t realize there would be so many people there but it was a Saturday morning. It had been raining most of the summer and this was one of the first beautiful non-cloudy mornings.

Trying to get creative with different shots.

The sun was up now. I loved the pigeons all lined up on the roof. They had the best spot to watch it come up.

I know I always hate the effort to get out this early in the morning but it was a beautiful sunrise and I still had the whole day to do things.

SkyWatch Friday

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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One last walk

I got up early one morning in late September to take my last walk around the neighborhood. It wasn’t my last walk anywhere, just around this neighborhood. After living here for 17 years, we moved about 20 minutes away so Brett could be closer to work and it was time to downsize. It was before the sun came up and a faint rainbow was visible as the ducks flew by. I said goodby to Blondie and her grown babies. I’ll miss those creme colored mallards.

The ducks stopped by the yard days before we moved. It was the last of the bird seed so they were going to have to scrounge somewhere else.

Backyard skies on our last week here. I’ll miss the open sky but we are moving to a heavily wooded area and it will be nice to be in the shade now and see different wildlife. I’ll be posting pictures of the critters near our new home soon.

SkyWatch Friday

That small orange dot in the sky

I don’t get out for sunrise very often. During the week I’m busy with work and on the weekends I’m either heading out to a park to walk to look for birds or sleeping in. In early September I was up on a Saturday with no plans (and sunrise isn’t that early this time of year) so I packed up and headed to Safety Harbor.

You could barely see the sliver of moon high up in the sky. The line between the water and land was turning bright orange.

People were starting to show up to the fishing pier and boats were heading out.

It was such a nice morning out. Birds were cruising back and forth across the pier.

Here it comes! A small orange dot off in the distance. I walked around the park for a while and will post those pictures later.

SkyWatch Friday