Thursday, November 27, 2014

Searching for a New Life Bird

We were over on the Gulf Coast for the Thanksgiving holidays and there were reports of another potential Life Bird hanging out near Fort De Soto. A Great Cormorant was flying back and forth around Bunches Pass just before you reach De Soto. Knowing most everyone would be sleeping in on Thanksgiving I got up before dawn and headed out on my own. Being the holiday, there were not many others out on the road at sunrise. I looked for the Cormorant but failed to nail it down. Maybe that speck out on the piling? Too far to confirm. Dolphin were passing by, though.


Not wanting to pay $5 just to park and walk around at the boat ramp, I drove slowly through and took note of birds as they presented themselves. It was nice to see a Sandwich Tern after so long away from the coast.

Sandwich Tern

On one of the dock pilings, a Royal Tern refused to wake for the morning light.

Royal Tern

Four docks down held a Brown Pelican just arriving from an early breakfast.

Brown Pelican

Just before exiting the parking lot I spotted a Belted Kingfisher. Of course, they spot you, too, so you usually only get shots of them bolting for the next distant perch.

Belted Kingfisher

Since I was there, I decided to actually spent the $5 to go into Fort De Soto itself to see if there were any interesting birds. The Sun was shining brightly on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge but there were not too many birds at the East Loop.


Over at the Gulf pier, I found a few Double-crested Cormorants either snoozing on pilings or posing on street lamps.

Double-crested Cormorant

A young Brown Pelican cruised past just overhead.

Brown Pelican

The Double-crested Cormorant was not amused. I find the yawn of these birds to be one of the more unusual sights around.

Double-crested Cormorant

Off to the side of the pier was a Willet chasing the surf.


A noisy Osprey caught my attention s I headed toward the car. The male was calling while perched on the electric wires near the boardwalk.


The female Osprey was just above on the nest platform gazing out into the distance.


European Starlings were gathering on the wires as I was about to leave. I almost didn't notice the Brown-headed Cowbird trying to blend in among them.

Brown-headed Cowbird

European Starlings left me with a nice bit of symmetry against a bright blue sky.

European Starling

I stopped at the end of a bridge on the way out and found a Great Black-backed Gull sifting through the seaweed rack.

Great Black-backed Gull

A few more feet out in the shallows, a White Ibis probed the mud on the lowering tide while reflecting nicely.

White Ibis

Later, before the turkey and fixin's were consumed I refilled Dad's bird feeders and eventually a few birds stopped by, including a juvenile male Red-winged Blackbird.

Red-winged Blackbird

I was disappointed that I couldn't definitely verify the Great Cormorant but still had a good time. I might still have a chance to try again as we are here for a few more days. Fingers are crossed. I missed two possible Life Birds last year during the holidays.

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