Rich and I spent a night at Fort De Soto last week, right before the long Labor Day weekend. I like visiting Fort De Soto during the week!! The beach wasn’t crowded at all. I was the only photographer on the beach for a good part of our visit. I scored a lifer Snowy Plover on North Beach, along with a bunch of Piping Plovers (two banded). The Piping Plover is a Florida state bird for me, as I’d only seen them previously in Massachusetts. All together, it was a four-plover weekend. Not bad!
This is my lifer Snowy Plover. It’s not often that a lifer shot is actually a decent shot. Usually my lifer shots are terrible blurs or virtually unidentifiable. This little plover let me get a pretty good look at him. Boy are all the little plovers fast! They run very quickly on those tiny legs. The Snowy Plovers are much more striking with the dark black lines of their breeding plumage. Maybe I’ll have to head to South Florida next spring to find one of those! :)
I was surprised to see lots of Piping Plovers running around. They migrate through Florida each year during the spring and fall, so there’s a limited window of opportunity to see them. I was happy to find two banded Piping Plovers, and I made sure to get photos of the bands, which I am reporting to bandedbirds.org.
The plovers all look kinda similar, so I’m including photos of the other two plovers that I saw this weekend. (They are some of the shorebirds that I can actually identify. I’m still working on some of their sandpiper cousins!!) The above is a Semipalmated Plover, who has also lost the dark lines of his breeding plumage. He is darker than a Piping Plover, and the dark bar wraps all the way around his chest.
This last plover is a Wilon’s Plover. They are a little bigger than the other plovers. Snowy Plovers and Piping Plovers are described as “more cute”, and although that sounds like a subjective interpretation, it’s easily understood once you’ve seen all four birds in person!
Many of these plovers are protected species in Florida, and it was great to see them all together on the beach. I didn’t expect a lifer on our little get-away!! :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Fort De Soto?
Check out my Fort De Soto page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!