Fall Getaway to Fort De Soto

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From the blazing afternoon temperatures we know it’s still summer in Central Florida, but fall bird migration is already well underway.  Rich and I escaped for a quick fall getaway to Fort De Soto to observe some of the migrating birds.  Last year we had a great time on the North Beach with the hundreds of terns staging for their migration.  I was hoping for equal fun this year, and I wasn’t disappointed.

When we first arrived on Wednesday evening, we made a stop at the East Beach turnaround, which can be a great afternoon location to observe shorebirds.  I found this Semipalmated Sandpiper, who stopped over in Florida on his way from the northern Canadian Arctic down to the northern shores of South America.  It’s a long way to fly!  No wonder he looked a little tired.

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

Several kinds of terns were feeding along the shore, including this juvenile Forster’s Tern.  I think this was my first opportunity to see a juvie Forster’s.  You can tell he’s a juvenile because he still has bits of brown in his feathers.  You could easily hear the juvies as flocks of birds were feeding.  The juveniles haven’t lost that nesting colony habit of calling out their hunger pains to anybody who will listen!

Juvenile Forster's Tern
Juvenile Forster’s Tern

Rich and I moved along to the North Beach for sunset, and there I located and photographed some Piping Plovers and my lifer Snowy Plover.  As the sun slipped lower in the sky, I put my wide-angle lens on the camera and found a good sunset location.  During the last 15 minutes of light, the clouds moved in and gave me some interesting features in the sky.  Pretty!

Sunset at Fort De Soto
Sunset at Fort De Soto

The next morning, Rich and I headed back to the North Beach for more birding action.  The terns were feeding along the shoreline.  It’s a challenge to photograph them as they dive into the waves.

Forster's Tern in Flight
Forster’s Tern in Flight

In the lagoon area, I spotted three Roseate Spoonbills preening in the pretty morning sun.  I can’t resist a good spoonbill picture.  I waded into the water and made Rich laugh as I knelt down, got wet, and got my shot…

Preening Roseate Spoonbill
Preening Roseate Spoonbill

A Little Blue Heron was stalking the shoreline of the lagoon along with a Great Blue Heron.  I stood quietly as the Little Blue walked closer and closer to me.  Look at the big toes on his feet as he carefully stalked his prey.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

It was really great to get out with my camera, as work has been keeping me busy again and I haven’t gotten out in a few weeks.  This little fall getaway to Fort De Soto was wonderful.  We’ll have to do it again soon! :)

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!

2 thoughts on “Fall Getaway to Fort De Soto

  1. If you take photographs of birds at the beach and don’t get wet and sandy you aren’t doing it right! :)
    Terrific images! Love the young Forster’s shot. That sunset is special and makes me want to smell the salt air – SOON!

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