In late May, I took my dad on a birthday trip to Fort De Soto. We had a great morning at North Beach, watching the shorebirds and enjoying the water. Our first bird of the morning was carrying an apple left on the beach. We decided that our new adage will be: “An apple a day and the birds will play!” ;-)
A small flock of Common Terns was hanging out at the edge of the water. When a person would walk by, the birds would spook and fly off. Although I felt badly for the birds as I thought of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend festivities, the frequent flight shots were fun for photographers…
The Common Terns weren’t the only flight opportunities. The Least Terns were hanging out at the edge of the beach, diving for fish for breakfast. They are fast fliers and a challenge to capture through the lens. I certainly enjoyed trying! :)
We spotted one of the local Reddish Egrets, also known as “Big Red,” off in the surf. I love watching his “drunken sailor” antics. He darts erratically in the waves, using his wings to cast shadows on the fish below. Then he does a quick dive and comes up with a nice fish. He fit right in with the fishing boats in the distance…
Back up on the beach, we found a small Wilson’s Plover. She looked like she was on a nest, but I didn’t see any eggs in the area. It’s almost time for tiny fuzzballs to start showing up on the beach. They look like cotton balls on q-tip stick legs. So cute!
The Least Terns at the water’s edge were focused on fishing and breakfast. The terns back on the beach had other things in their minds. We saw a pair of terns doing a fun courtship ritual. The male had a fish and the female was dancing her approval…but minutes passed and nothing happened! The birds continued to dance and I wondered if a bird ever just drops the fish and flies off. A third bird flew in with a second fish, and the first male chased him off. Such drama on the beach! After probably 15 minutes of teasing, the birds finally did their piggy-back ride…
Our last bird of the day was a Whimbrel! I’ve only seen a Whimbrel once before, also at Fort de Soto’s North Beach. The bird was standing on the beach with a pair of Black-bellied Plovers. I tried to get on a good sun angle, but a walker startled the bird and he flew. I was shooting straight into the sun as he flew off, but I managed to catch his open mouth as he called to say goodbye. :)
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!