Beyond the Backyard

Of Drunken Sailors and Crab Legs (Fort De Soto)

Posted on

After a long week at work, I was itching for a photography adventure.  So I got up at 4 on Saturday morning and drove to Fort De Soto for sunrise.  But I did have a great morning at North Beach, enjoying especially the antics of the Reddish Egrets.  They are too funny! I arrived just as the sun was peeking over the horizon.  I resisted the temptation to photograph the orange fireball in the eastern sky, and instead I hurried to North Beach.  The tidal pools in front of the concession stand were still and as yet unlit by the rising sun.  A couple of Great Egrets were feeding there, and their reflections in the purply-pink water were quite nice.  Especially when one reached down and grabbed a minnow for me! It wasn’t long before I ran into a Reddish Egret.  I saw several of them over the course of the morning, most of them stalking their breakfast by doing their “drunken sailor dance” (see below).  My favorite shot of the morning was this portrait of the Reddish Egret, in the clear water of the Gulf. Brown Pelicans flew up and down the beach.  I know these are common birds, […]

Beyond the Backyard

Sunrise at Fort De Soto

Posted on

Rich came with me to Fort De Soto for sunrise this morning.  He can’t remember the last time he watched the sun rise!  We went to East Beach to see the sun come up over the Sunshine Skyway.  Then we went the North Beach lagoon, then we found the famous mulberry trees.  It was a slow day for migrants—we saw only an Indigo Bunting, a Black-Throated Blue Warbler, and a Cape May Warbler.  I got a glimpse of the Black-Hooded Parakeets, but no pictures.  But the morning photography at North Beach was awesome. Here’s a panorama of the sunrise at East Beach, with the Sunshine Skyway as a backdrop: When I got to North Beach, I headed towards the lagoon.  I was happy to find a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron standing perfectly still along the dunes within a few feet of me.  This is another common bird at De Soto, but I have little experience photographing him. I saw my first American Oystercatcher along the shore and I positioned the Beast to photograph him.  As I focused, the bird started to run off and fuss.  “No!  Wait for me to get a picture first!”  But the bird was fussing because his […]

Beyond the Backyard

Beautiful Morning at Fort De Soto

Posted on

Dyeyo and I visited Fort De Soto this morning. After my last trip there in September, I was looking forward to beaches covered in birds. But the North Beach was almost totally empty! We ran into a nice couple from England who have been vacationing at De Soto for the last month. They said that they had never seen the beaches so empty. The occasional bird would fly by as we stood on the North Beach wondering why we’d driven for two hours to photograph an empty beach. The sun was just rising and the light was beautiful. I think this is a Least Tern. I have trouble identifying all the different terns, especially in their varying plumages. I kept missing the Brown Pelican fly-bys, and I was getting a little annoyed, because the light was awesome and it made their feathers sparkle with iridescence. Finally I caught a bird flying in the right direction. Of the three or four pictures I took, this was the only sharp one. At first I was confused as to why the Brown Pelicans have white heads. But then I read that they have white heads in the winter when they are in their […]

Beyond the Backyard

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducklings at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Posted on

Dyeyo and I spent another great morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve today.  We went with hopes of seeing some migratory warblers or wading birds.  Dyeyo did see a Northern Parula, but our major excitements today were the Yellow-Crowned Night Warbler and the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks! The sunrise was slow this morning.  Dyeyo and I are used to getting to Circle B at 6:30 am, and these days, the sun is rising later and later.  There was also some cloudcover.  So we had hiked Heron Hideout and gotten around to the Eagle Roost before taking our first pictures. These Sand Hill Cranes were quite picturesque as they flew in front of the rising sun.  I wonder if Dyeyo’s baby was one of them? We saw two adult Bald Eagles sitting above the nest in the Eagle Roost.  They’re back for the winter! I’d been wanting to see the Wading Bird Way at sunrise, and today I got my wish. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve hiked around to Wading Bird Way.  It’s a long and hot walk around the Eagle Roost and/or Windmill Whisper and Shady Oak to get to Wading Bird Way right now, with Marsh […]