Walking through a shower

I love these foggy winter mornings. It’s quiet and most people stay in when it’s like this. Right after Christmas I went out for a walk at the nearby Oldsmar pier. It was so damp that if felt like I was walking through a cool shower.

I then headed over to the Dunedin marina for a quick walk. The fog was almost gone but dark clouds had moved in and it started to drizzle.

I stopped at the Safety Harbor fishing pier on the way home (a slightly long detour) and the sun was trying to peek through.

I have been to the fishing pier at Safety Harbor a million times but I had never been in the hotel next door. I pass it as I’m doing my walk but I never stop in. I had heard their Christmas decorations in the lobby were pretty so I decided to check it out. It’s a fairly small lobby but still had a lot of history in it. One of these days I might have to eat at the restaurant here.

SkyWatch Friday

Two new birds in the backyard

Two new birds in the backyard (although I’ve seen them both before somewhere else). Two brown headed cowbirds stopped by but didn’t stay long. A hermit thrush has become a regular visitor since early December.

An eastern phoebe has stopped by a few times this winter. I caught him taking a bath one morning.

Regular visitors include a black and white warbler, cardinals (who are usually shy and don’t come out in the open but I caught this one on the bath) and bluebirds.

Every few weeks a yellow throated warbler stops by. He usually hunts for bugs in the small palm tree next to our house. I went outside to get these since he was hiding under the palms.

I heard her before I saw her. I heard the pileated woodpecker’s loud scream as she flew into our oak tree. I snapped this quickly through the window before she took off.

I went outside to get this shot. Actually, I went out to try and shoo him away from the window and took my camera out with me. He is not easily scared. I’m glad he hangs out in our corner of the neighborhood but I don’t want him too close to the window where Buddy and Harley stay (in the sunroom).

A young little blue heron that hasn’t lost his white baby feathers yet.

I’m glad I put that nest box up so the squirrels can nap on it.

Things blooming in the backyard in late December.

Inspire Me Monday

Sleeping shorebirds

It was a quiet morning on the Dunedin causeway and I noticed a lot of sleeping shorebirds. After my walk I got my camera out of my car and started snapping the shorebirds. I found a lone black bellied plover mixed in with a lot of dowitchers. When I cropped this up I noticed the little dunlin on the right.

I usually only see large flocks of laughing gulls here so it was great to see all of the dowitchers sleeping together. Some were trying to nap and some were feeding. There were a few dunlins and ruddy turnstones mixed in as well.

My camera could only catch a small portion of them at a time.

Some were flying in and out of the sleeping group.

A little farther down the beach I found a lone skimmer.

A pelican cruises right above the water.

Walking the opposite way

My morning walk started out sunny in mid-December. I parked at the marina and walked in the opposite direction of my usual route. I followed the long sidewalk along the water that heads towards Clearwater.

I found another damaged stranded boat. A common sight since Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Eventually this will get hauled out of the water and probably scrapped.

Looking across the water to the left you can see the hotels on Clearwater Beach.

When I got back to the marina and headed for my car I was walking along the sea wall and spotted 2 manatees close by. I love seeing their big squishy snouts coming up for air. I wonder how old the one on the right is with all of those barnacles attached to his back. The barnacles are not parasites and don’t feed on the manatee. They just live on top and are hitching a ride. They can eventually fall off as well.

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Inspire Me Monday

A foggy morning

Another foggy walk along the Dunedin causeway in early December. I thought the sun was going to break through when I first got there but it seemed to get foggier as the morning went on.

After my walk I pulled my camera out of the car and walked down near the edge of the water. The tide was low and there were a few shorebirds feeding or sleeping. I caught a lone marbled godwit flying in to nap with the laughing gulls.

I stopped by the marina before heading home. I could see a bright red Santa on top of a boat, really popping with color in the fog.

The usual birds (a pelican and great egret) hoping a fisherman will show up to steal his snacks.

Inspire Me Monday

The backyard in early December

The turkeys were regular visitors to the backyard in early December. One afternoon I saw these 2 looking like they were having a spat. I’m pretty sure they are siblings. Maybe the red head is a male? They were born this spring so they are still pretty young.

Another day I caught them feeding. I think he saw me through the window.

The young doe was also coming by almost every day. She was alone every day until one day I think I saw her with some other females.

One day we had 2 females with a younger deer come by and feed. I was hoping our little Bambi had found some friends.

I heard Harley (our cockatiel) yell his “There’s a hawk in the backyard” scream and I ran over and saw this Cooper’s hawk sitting in the oak tree. I couldn’t get a clear shot of him through the window so I snuck out the back door and was able to get the above. He was not spooked when I walked right up to him. I’m assuming this is the same one that was in our front yard a few months ago.

House finches and pine warblers have been regulars at the feeder and bird bath this winter

I checked in on the neighborhood eagle nest the first week in December. I had been seeing a lone eagle around the neighborhood and this was the first time seeing them both on the nest. I went by right after this and saw a head peak up from the nest but I haven’t seen any other activity. I hope she’s sitting on eggs. I can’t see her from the street so I can’t tell

.

The sun through palm trees

After I caught the sun rising at the Safety Harbor fishing pier I headed down to North Shore Park in St. Pete. The sun was up about half way by this time but still made for some pretty shots. This little beach sits on the bay side of St. Pete and the sand isn’t very nice so there usually isn’t too many people on it in the morning.

The water looked very inviting with the sun beaming down on it but it was a little chilly this morning.

I think this is a Hong Kong orchid tree. The the park was full of them blooming in early December.

I was hoping to find something different in the way of birds out here, sometimes a surprise might pop up but it was quiet. Only the usuals. A ring billed gull scratching an itch and a pelican lands in front of me. The little beach was full of laughing gulls but not much else.

As I was standing on the beach watching the birds this tiny shark swam right up near the sand.

SkyWatch Friday

Looking for a duck

It was a dark and dreary day during the week before Christmas. I had heard about a rare duck being seen in south St. Pete so I headed out ready to brave the weather. (You northerners will laugh at me. It was 50 degrees and I was bundled up, glad that I wasn’t up there in that crazy snow.) The black scoter had been seen just off the boat ramp at War Veterans Memorial Park. It would be a first sighting for me if I find it.

I hit all of the areas in the park and could not find that duck. The wind was blasting so she might have floated farther south. I noticed a small spoil island that had a lot of pelicans hiding from the wind.

The small beach area at the tip of the park held a few shorebirds. A lone willet was digging for food.

A lone red knot was doing the same.

A semipalmated plover was trying to nap.

More pelicans preening out on a spit.

Not sure if this is because of the extreme low tide or if this boat has been stranded for a while here. It looked a little damaged.

Bay Pines National Cemetery was next door to the park so I stopped in to visit my parents (Dad was in WW2). The graves were decorated with wreaths.

I did not find the black scoter that morning but all was not lost. Weeks later another one was spotted closer to home. More on that one later.

Inspire Me Monday

A 3 park morning.

It was early December and I was ready for another morning out with my camera. My first stop was the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. I ended up only taking a few pictures while I was there. I was busy looking for birds of which I found none.

I left the gardens and stopped at nearby McGough Park to see if there were any birds there. No birds but a lot of other critters. The bees have taken over this owl nest box.

A few of the turtles in the turtle pond.

Some of the permanently injured animals that live here (the nature center here houses animals that cannot be released back into the wild). Both owls had injured eyes.

On the way home I stopped at the Largo Nature Preserve and did find a few birds here.  You can usually find limpkins along the boardwalk here and they are use to people walking by. This one was sitting on the railing and made no attempt to move as I walked by. This is not cropped.

Not surprised to find the usual birds here. A blue gray gnatcatcher, a black and white warbler and a yellow rumped warbler.

Another usual bird, a pine warbler, was pigging out on caterpillars. He ate several while I was snapping and I was lucky enough for him to show them to me.

The big orange ball (not the kind you eat)

Most mornings I’m up well before the sun comes up but it’s not often I am out of the house before then. Brett was leaving for work extra early one morning in early December so I decided to head out with my camera with the short lens on it and my phone. When I got to the Safety Harbor fishing pier there was color but the ball hadn’t come up yet.

Large flocks of birds were flying across the bay. I think most of them were ibis.

Finally, that orange ball started to show up. I was lucky it wasn’t foggy this day.

It’s a beautiful sight and there were a lot of people there to see it. Most of the photographers there hang back in the parking lot to get the shots with the pier in it instead of standing on the end of the pier. I was running back and forth trying to get all of the shots in.

Standing at the end of the pier I took these with my camera.  You can barely see the skyline of downtown Tampa across the bay.

There’s something magical about standing here early in the morning waiting for the sun to come up. You’re not alone but everyone is quiet, almost whispering as if we were in a library. The joggers and dog walkers take a few minutes to stop and look. When I lived in Tampa and was working in the office I used to see the sun coming up in my rear view mirror on the way to work or through the window at the office. For now I can take a deep breath and enjoy the view.

A ring billed gull was sitting on the rail waiting for me to take a shot.

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