Birding on St. Pete’s beach

Heading south to where the birds are, it was that time of the year to escape the frigid winter in Indiana and bask in sunny Florida! I wasn’t sure how much birding I could do at St Pete’s beach on the Gulf coast, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience.   Sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico in the west and Tampa Bay in the east, St Petersburg boasts excellent weather year round and attracts a number of migratory birds. The glistening quartz sand beckons you to tread softly and sink your feet in as you scan the skies and the shoreline for avian life in the wee hours of the morning and here’s what I found.

IMG_6305A Willet chasing the waves looking for breakfast.  Willets are rather large stocky shorebirds with a long thick bill and in winter, it has a rather drab plumage.  

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I was pleasantly surprised to see this Snowy Egret on the beach!  Note the yellow foot sticking out.

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As the sun was trying to break through the clouds, a Double-crested Cormorant jumped over the moon setting in the west!  Cormorants are excellent anglers and often dive several meters deep to catch fish.

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A Brown Pelican majestically gliding over the waters.  The Brown Pelican has come back remarkably from the brink of extinction.  Its wingspan is typically about 7 feet long and it dives in the water to catch fish. 

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With incredible agility the Brown Pelican which typically weighs up to 3 kg, dives effortlessly into the ocean

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A Royal Tern in flight.  Terns are shorebirds similar to seagulls and often found in their company.  The Royal Tern is very distinctive and has an orange bill and black crest

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A royal catch for a Royal Tern!

forsters tern

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A Forster’s Tern scouring the waters for delicacies!  Forster’s Tern has a black patch over the eyes and a long forked tail.

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This is a Sandwich Tern that looks very similar to the Forster’s tern above.  Notice the yellow tip on its beak which helps to distinguish it from the latter.

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Quite a mouthful for this juvenile Laughing Gull

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No smiles for this Laughing Gull

herring gull

Herring Gulls are quite large compared to Laughing gulls which are ubiquitous on beaches

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A Ring-billed Gull flying gracefully

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Silhouette of a pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds

IMG_7302Ospreys are large raptors that feed primarily on fish.

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A perfect sunset!

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6 thoughts on “Birding on St. Pete’s beach

  1. I am so envious right now. We’ve been suffering from temperatures below -20C the last few days, and the birds have become scarce. Would love to visit a bird-filled beach right now!

  2. Pingback: Dutch Sandwich tern, Ameland to Namibia migration | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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