Beyond the Backyard

Juvenile Shorebirds from Last Summer

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Mommy! Make me a Sandwich!

I found some images from last summer that I had never processed.  In August I spent several mornings at Indian Rocks Beach photographing the nesting Black Skimmers, but the skimmers weren’t the only birds who posed for me.  The juvenile shorebirds also put on a show for the camera.  I especially liked the juvenile terns, who had reached the point that they were almost-self sufficient, but they didn’t know it yet.  They begged and begged for food! The birds above are Sandwich Terns.  The juvenile on the right was begging nonstop for food.  The mom on the left just didn’t seem to care!  The juvie threw his head back and forth and cried out constantly.  Juvies often continue this behavior, even after they have learned to fly and catch their own food.  Sometimes it’s just easier to have Mom bring you food than to find it for yourself! This Royal Tern parent was about as sympathetic to her desperate offspring as the Sandwich Tern.  It’s such fun to watch the juvies dance as they demand attention.  Once you spend any amount of time near a baby bird, with its constant nagging fuss, you recognize the same type of call in […]

Beyond the Backyard

Time to Grow Up!

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While photographing the terns at Fort De Soto over Labor Day weekend, I heard the incessant fussing of a hungry juvenile. It didn’t take me long to spot the fusser, who looked all spiffy in his fresh juvenal plumage. (Adult shorebirds at this time of year have worn feathers, and are easily distinguished from their recently-molted offspring.) This juvenile was so insistent that Mom give him a nice breakfast. The only problem was that Mom wasn’t cooperating. It’s a harsh lesson to learn when you find that you are grown up and responsible for feeding yourself!

Beyond the Backyard

Escape to Fort De Soto

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Rich and I took a much-needed day off from work last Friday and escaped to Fort De Soto for a weekend photography adventure.  We were glad we went Thursday night, which allowed us to get in one day of photography before the rains came.  And of course, we missed the terrific migrant activity that the storms brought later in the weekend.  Oh well! Our first stop at Fort De Soto was the East Beach, which I love in the golden afternoon light.  The little shorebirds are so tame.  They don’t mind too much when they are followed by The Beast!  I was hoping to find some shorebirds in pretty breeding plumage, and they did not disappoint.  This little Semipalmated Plover’s black stripes are striking. At one point I looked up to see that an American Oystercatcher had landed in the surf and started to take a bath.  After the birds bathe for a while, they shake out their feathers, giving you great action shot opportunities.  The East Beach turnaround area is great for birdie baths, since the the water is so shallow.  Look at those wings! After I had photographed every single bird on East Beach at least a dozen […]

Beyond the Backyard

More from the North Beach Shores at Fort De Soto…

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I had such a good morning at Fort De Soto a few weekends ago, and it’s taken me that long to finish going through my images!  I had four lifers that day: Common Loon, Red Knot, Lark Sparrow, and my first non-captive Great Horned Owls, with baby!  Combine that opportunity with the awesome light at North Beach, and you get a happy photographer with a full memory card. :) The tidal pools by the concession stand were quite productive that morning.  I was hoping for Snowy or Piping Plovers, but they didn’t want to give me any more lifers for the day.  Instead this Great Egret gave me nice flight opportunities… This Snowy Egret posed in his breeding plumage.  He didn’t fluff up his plumes for me, but look at that bright yellow lore! The Long-Billed Curlew and White Ibises were at the pool too.  Then a Marbled Godwit wandered up.  It’s great when you sit down low in the sand and the birds just parade past your lens. :) The next to come by was this Wilson’s Plover.  He’s fast!  He scurried by, then found a snack in the sand. A bunch of Royal Terns, Laughing Gulls, and a […]

Beyond the Backyard

Early Fall Migrants at Fort De Soto

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Rich says I must have lost my marbles.  I got up at 4:45 this morning and drove to St. Pete in order to search for Marbled Godwits.  It’s been a few months since I’ve gone to the beach, and I was in the mood for some nice shorebird photography.  It’s funny that after photographing lots of birds around the state for the past few years, I still haven’t seen some of the most common birds, including the Marbled Godwits.  But I did today! It’s a little weird to think that fall migration has already started.  It’s only July!  It’s still really hot out!  But a variety of shorebird species leave Florida in late spring, lay their nests and raise their young in the tundra of Alaska and northern Canada, then immediately turn around and fly back down to Florida.  It’s a really long trip for these little birds. I arrived at North Beach at Fort De Soto just after sunrise, around 7:00 in the morning.  The area around the concession stands was simply covered in Laughing Gulls.  They feed around the picnic tables, where people share their picnic lunches (some willingly, others  not!)  The gulls are starting the molt into […]

Beyond the Backyard

Quiet Morning at Fort De Soto

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I drove over to Fort De Soto on Saturday morning in hopes of finding some early migrant warblers.  There have also been a Reddish Egret in full breeding plumage and a Long-Billed Curlew hanging out at the North Beach lagoon.  I had high hopes of some good photography, but unfortunately, it was a pretty quiet morning. When I first arrived, I was on the lookout for the eagle’s nest that’s on the Tierra Verde peninsula before the entrance to the park.  I knew I’d found it when I saw the line of photographers, most of whom were lined up on the side of the road with their 500mm and 600mm lenses.  I pulled over and joined the crowd.  The nest is beautiful in the morning light.  It’s out in the open, one of the most photographable nests I’ve ever seen.  When I arrived, the adult was sitting near the nest, and one juvenile was in the nest.  The adult flew away, leaving the baby to sit in the nest and munch on his breakfast.  Some of the other photographers stood waiting, hoping that the adult would bring in food.  I watched for a while, then left to go to the […]