There were two white pelicans and one brown pelican floating in Crescent Lake near downtown St. Pete recently. The white ones were feeding close to the edge of the lake.
You can always find wood storks here.
Other usual critters include wintering ring billed ducks, lots of green herons, a cute mallard with a feather hat and plenty of turtles. One thing I’ve never seen here is alligators. I’m sure they are there under the water. I’ve only ever been early in the morning so they may be on the bank sunning themselves late in the afternoon.
This ring billed gull would have preferred a handout.
Out on the nature trail at Honeymoon Island, there had been a prescribed burn recently. I didn’t see a date on the sign but green was already starting to sprout.
There are a lot of dead trees all along the trail now. The pine trees seem to dying quickly. This trail use to be shady but now it’s mostly in the sun (although there wasn’t much sun the morning I was there).
I saw very few osprey. Years ago I would walk down the trail and see 20 to 30 osprey. Most of the nests were gone as well. They should change the name of the trail from Osprey trail to Dead Tree trail.
There was still a lot of color though. It was a quiet day. No sign of the eagles or owls. Only the 3 osprey I saw and a few catbirds. Maybe I just hit it on a tough day.
Eagle sightings along the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve.
Out in the marsh, a lone sandhill crane was among the wood storks. At first he was feeding but then he stopped and started calling across the marsh.
He then took off, flying right in front of me.
Along the trail.
Taken with my 300mm lens, this big guy was napping out in the water.
All the usual birds.
There were several small alligators hanging out close to the dock. I didn’t see any big ones but I’m sure the mom was close by.
This deer was right off the boardwalk and I snapped this with my phone.
After walking around Chesnut Park in early January, I stopped by a small park along the water on the way home to see if there were any wintering ducks in the bay. No ducks to be found but this gull had found a piece of a fish in the low tide and was snacking. It was weird that there were several live conch shells on the dead fish.
Oh wait, I left out the part about the snow being a goose. My first snow goose sighting happened in early January on a golf course near work. I read that this is only the 3rd recorded sighting of them in Pinellas county ever so they are pretty rare around here. I had heard that they were there a few days before I could get over there. I put my camera in the car and left for work way before sunrise (a fairly common thing anyway) and stopped by the golf course before work. They had been sighted on a small pond right next to a side road and there they were. They were pretty far away across the pond but I was able to snap the above before heading to work. After work I stopped again and they were gone. They could have been some where else on the course but it was almost dark. I have recently read on Ebird that some were sighted at Myakka River State Park so I’m wondering if those are my geese.
Cruising along Clearwater bay looking for dophins. Lots of big buildings going up around the beach including the new expanded Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter the movie star dolphin from A Dolphin’s Tale who lost his tail and was given a prosthetic tail.
Anyone want a boat real cheap? An abandoned boat near the marina.
Cruising by some of the big old historic homes along the intercoastal waterway.
Out along Sand Key.
Two osprey taking a bath on a sand spit during low tide.
We stopped at a spoil island near Sand Key and looked for some shells. The ones that were still alive were put back in the water.
The last day my sisters were here visiting we took a 2 hour dolphin tour out of Clearwater marina. After living here for almost 18 years it was the first time I had done that. It was fun being out on the water on such a beautiful morning. We finally did see some dolphins coming back to the marina but I didn’t take any pictures. The boat was fairly full and I hung back letting all of the tourists see them from the edge of the boat. It’s fun to see people’s reactions when they see one for the first time out in the wild. Living here we take things for granted. I saw 3 of them coming home from work recently while I was stuck in traffic on the bridge.
Just outside of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, you can go on a tour to swim with in the river where the manatees hang out. There are many roped off areas that you cannot enter so the manatees can get away from the humans if they want to. There’s a dock inside the park that looks over this area and this is where I spent part of a recent Saturday morning watching the manatees swim by. A young girl was hanging out close to the dock and a manatee swam right up to her.
She wasn’t moving and the manatee came right up to her and bumped her in the face. He definitely wanted a scratch. She would scratch him for a few minutes and he would swim away but then come back again several times. It was pretty amazing to watch and I know she had to be so excited for this encounter.
At one point another manatee started swimming back and forth against her flipper like he was using it as a scratching post.
What a great memory for her.
There are manatee patrols out keeping an eye on things to make sure no one is chasing the manatees or the area doesn’t get too crowded. They are all volunteers and I would think “What a great job” but they probably have to deal with some unsavory people at time. Probably not everyone is as respectful as the girl was with the manatees. I’m not a big fan of people being allowed to swim in the same area with them but it was great even being out on the dock watching the girl and her manatee.