(D on map)
Fort De Soto! I had heard so much about it, I couldn't wait to get there! I was amazed to see that there was no entry fee into the park. After photographing birds at rookeries the past two days, I was itching to get the birds in the water and feeding. Fort De Soto did not disappoint!
I spent time on various subjects the different days I was there, but it was a great spot to get the Egrets/Herons, Royal Terns, Skimmers, Oystercatchers and other shorebirds. Osprey put on some amazing shows for me, and two Swallow-tailed Kites one day were life birds, and even allowed for some photos (which I did not expect).
Mornings at the North Beach (northern) Lagoon provided wonderful pre-dawn colours, and calm waters throughout the morning. My life Reddish Egrets put on a show here, but would rarely stay in one spot for very long. The North Beach Lagoon was great in the afternoons as well! I heard that it was really slow for Fort De Soto, and I got a feeling it would pick up considerably later into spring, but I still had a great time.
I didn't spend much time at other locations in the park, like east beach, the fishing piers, or mullet key etc. So there was probably a lot more to explore! Since it was early in my trip, I didn't want to spend too long here, as I had a lot of places left to visit.
I found that Fort De Soto was far and away the most "user-friendly" for someone like me (sleeping in my car). There were lots of clean bathrooms, warm water in the taps, no entry fee - and I was able to sneak into the campground each day and have a shower! A Walmart just outside the park was a great place to get food, and I slept there until my last night (when i was asked to leave at midnight!).
Overall it was very exciting for me. Lots of life birds or species I'd rarely seen before. I would be very excited to see how much better it can be further into migration and/or the breeding season! It still lived up to the lofty hype I had heard so much about before I visited!
Just a few pics from here: