Spring migration is becoming a bust

I was heading down to Fort Desoto in mid-April hoping to see some migrating songbirds as they stop over for a rest before heading north for the summer. It had rained days earlier and the day after the rain had some good fall out but I had to work that day. There might have been some stragglers still hanging out so I was hopeful. On the way into the park I saw some frigatebirds cruising along a pond so I pulled over and shot these as they kept going.

After walking around the usual spots for the birds for several hours, this is what I got. A lone bright yellow house finch was hanging around the bird feeder at the ranger’s house. I usually only see red house finches so the yellow threw me off.

I also found a black and white warbler but those are pretty common here.

I could at least enjoy the view as I was walking around. Not a bad spot to spend the morning out.

All of these dead trees are invasive Australian pine trees so the park killed them off to return the park to it’s natural state. It’s a tough pill to swallow when these trees use to be filled with migrating birds for so many years. I’m not sure if that is why we’ve seen less birds in the park for the last two years.

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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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Alone in the drizzle

The wind was blowing hard at Fort Desoto on a Saturday morning in late February.  I was the only one there on the fishing pier along with the pelicans.

The views from East beach.

Someone dropped their breakfast on the beach. It looks like a laughing gull. There are eagles that cruise this area and a nest on the other side of the park so it might be one of them.

A wall of rain was coming in off the gulf and it was already drizzling so after snapping this I headed home.

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A storm was coming in

Storms were coming on a Saturday morning in mid-February. I still had to get out so I headed down to Fort Desoto and brave the weather (to really look for some owls). The clouds were starting to roll in when I stopped at the bay fishing pier. The wind was blowing so hard that there were no one out fishing. Walking halfway out I saw a common loon all alone. I was hoping he would get closer but he stayed pretty far out.

A great blue heron flying in and landing in front of me.

A cormorant sitting in front of the bridge.

White ibis fly by in front of the clouds.

I headed up to north beach to look for shorebirds but only kiteboarders were there. The sun was trying to peak out but it didn’t for long.

In the other direction, a kite surfer was struggling to stay up.

Back at the gulf pier, the storms were coming in from the south and it started to sprinkle so I pulled my umbrella out of my backpack and walked around a little while longer before heading home in the rain. Even on a dark cloudy day this is a magically place (unless you are just looking to get tan).

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Not that early for sunrise

Sunrise at East Beach at Fort Desoto. No, I wasn’t up that early. This was in late October before the time changed so it was right before 7:30. There was a small cloud right above the bridge that kept the sun from being clear but it was still a great sky.

As I stood there watching the sun come up, I could see the frigatebirds starting to circle high up in the sky. They were coming from across the bay and then ended up right over my head.

Once the sun was up it was time to go hang out with the white pelicans.

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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

This was our first trip to this park, just outside of Naples,Florida. It has trails and boardwalks that goes through a swamp in central Florida. I was hoping there would be more birds here since it was the end of April and spring migration was still going on but the boardwalk was pretty quiet.

One cool thing about the park was all of the old trees which kept the boardwalk shaded.

It wouldn’t be a swamp with alligators but it was fun seeing the otter near the boardwalk.

Views from the boardwalk taken with my phone.

After the park, Brett and I left Naples behind and headed home to Tampa. I wanted to take some pictures of the Sunshine Skyway bridge as we drove over but the love bugs were so bad that our windshield was covered in them. The funny thing is that our car wasn’t nearly as bad as other cars and vans that had come from much farther south. Of course, Brett washed the car as soon as we got home.

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Serendipity is Sweet

 

A rare hybrid at Fort Desoto

Not this normal cormorant, but I was wondering what those guts were next to his wing. Someone’s unfinished lunch.

The above beautiful bird is a hybrid of a great blue heron and a great egret. A great bird indeed. He has the body of a great blue heron and legs and face of a great egret. He’s been hanging around the fishing pier for at least 2 years. He’s famous with the locals and I call him “Harry, the Hybrid”. Although now, he’s been spotted at 2 places at the same time so people are now thinking there are more than one. He must have a sibling.

A regular ole great egret with green breeding feathers around his beak.

Out at east beach, the sun had long come up over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

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Early morning at Fort Desoto

Terns, willets and laughing gulls out on the beach.

A lone prairie warbler on the trail.

Someone caught a creepy crab while fishing on the pier.

A common sight around the fishing pier, a snowy egret hitching a ride.

The morning started off cloudy, looking like it was going to rain but the sun came out before noon.

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