For those who didn’t know us before Foxtale, our interests in photography started a long time ago, shooting landscapes, wildlife and birds. In fact, last year we purchased All-You-Can-Jet passes from JetBlue and travelled across the country on a travel photo expedition. You may have seen our eight-page feature of our trip in Ocala Magazine last February or followed our travel blog, Cross Country Buffet. Since that blog was a one-time thing, we wanted to continue writing about our travels—big and small—here on the Foxtale blog.
To start off our new travel section, we planned a day trip to Saint Petersburg/Clearwater area in search of nesting black skimmers and to visit Fort DeSoto, one of the coolest state parks we’ve visited in Florida. Last year on a visit there, we were greeted by about 12 or more manatees nearly beaching themselves as they chased a female up and down the water. This year, some porpoises played near the pier as we stood among the fishermen and enjoyed the cloudy afternoon.
After our time at Fort DeSoto, we headed back up the coast to Clearwater to find the nesting black skimmers we heard about from a fellow birder. Black skimmers are a shore bird with a large lower mandible that it hangs in the water as it glides slightly over it and snaps it’s jaws shut when it feels a fish. They’re a beautiful bird to just watch as it hunts for food and getting to see them nest was a first for us. It couldn’t have been easier to find them, too. We visited the Suncoast Shore Bird Sanctuary in Redding Beach, a great organization that rehabilitates and rescues injured birds in the area. At the sanctuary, there were black-crowned night herons all over, another bird we rarely see in Central Florida. As we walked out of the back exit to the beach, low and behold, the skimmers nested right outside the place. Some chicks had already hatched a few weeks before, but there were still many eggs and newborn chicks. It was a treat to see them gathered and pairs of birds taking care of their hatchlings.