Monday, May 2, 2011

Seabirds on a Florida Beach

Bird-watching brings peace. The mind's chatter stops. Wild birds teach me something too deep to articulate. 

Snowy egret fishes in waters shaded from the noonday sun.

Fort DeSoto Park, encompassing five barrier islands on the west coast of Florida south of St. Petersburg, is a bird sanctuary. The green-blue shallows with schools of fish and white sand beaches lined with mangroves and palm hammocks invite birds. 

After consultation with the bird book, I'm inclined to identify this as a little blue heron.

Sanderlings never seem to stop skittering from the waves.
With a surge of delight I notice a large bird perching on a nest of sticks atop a tall cement chimney next to the old fort. A closer approach confirms it is an osprey.

Ospreys' nest

Another adult osprey approaches the nest, and the parent lifts its wing. The ospreys seemed unconcerned about the photographer far below. 

When I walk around to the other side of the chimney, I see three osprey chicks perched close to the edge. In the photo below, two of the youngsters hide their heads.

Osprey chicks
The white ibis' long beak allows it to dig deep in the sand.
I got out the bird book for this one, too. I believe it is a willet.


Donna said...

What a wonder ...I love going to the beach and bird watching much we don't see in our gardens...fascinating

Sheila said...

Yes, the beach birds seem so exotic ...

Stacy said...

What wonderful pictures, and what a lovely place! I've spent some time a little further south of there, around Sarasota/Bradenton, and those west coast waters are just gorgeous. I never made it to Ft. DeSoto Park, though. It sounds like a great sanctuary for birds and humans alike. It always seems extra happy-making to see old buildings being turned back into wildlife habitat--I'm delighted with you over the ospreys!

Sheila said...

Stacy, I agree with you about the beauty of the west coast of Florida, especially where it's not overdeveloped. I was glad to see the ospreys - I am cheered whenever I see wildlife coexisting with humans!