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.

SkyWatch Friday

A warm morning out in December.

Folly Farms in Safety Harbor was all decorated for Christmas with lights everywhere. I was there early in the morning and many of the lights were still on. It was weird looking for birds and butterflies with a tshirt on and Christmas lights everywhere. The farm has a community garden and someone had sunflowers blooming in their square, in the middle of December! I could only find a few butterflies in the butterfly garden even though it was still blooming.

The only bird I found at the farm was a hermit thrush. I had not seen one since 2018 and I had just seen one in my backyard before finding this one at the farm. I had to wonder if it was the same one from my yard even though I was 15 minutes away.

I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier before heading home and found some black capped (or nanday) parakeets in the parking lot. They were eating seeds from the top of the trees. They blend in well in the trees and I might not have seen them if they hadn’t been screaming.

A manatee was close to the pier but the dolphins were pretty far out in the bay.

Watching the ibis feed off tiny crabs in the water.

Pelicans were cruising by the pier.

There were several osprey out diving for fish in the bay but only one came close enough to try and get shots. He swooped down and grabbed that fish so fast and then went the other way. I was hoping he would fly towards me. Oh well. I’ll try again.

Inspire Me Monday

 

Finally out with my camera

In late November I was finally out with my camera since having my shoulder surgery in early October, I could still only pick up 3lbs so I had my older smaller camera on my lightest lens. All together they were at 3.5 lbs so I was cheating a little but kept the camera in my left hand for most of the time. It felt good to be out walking around with it but I had an old 300mm lens and didn’t have much reach. I headed to the Dunedin marina for a long walk and then pulled the camera out of the car and walked around by the boats for a short while.

There were a few shorebirds at the tiny beach in front of the marina. Willets and ruddy turnstones are always there.

Something spooked these semi-palmated plovers several times.

One of the resident osprey sitting on a sailboat mast. They have a nest right in the parking lot here so I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on the babies this year.

An anhinga resting on the old abandoned boat.

A phone shot, this old sailboat got wedge up against the channel marker during Hurricane Nicole in early November and has been stuck there ever since. It’s a great place for the birds to rest.

A great egret posing nicely.

Pelicans around the marina.

A manatee was right up against the sea wall. This was taken with my phone. The shadows of the railing were a little tough though.

I was on the way home and stopped at a red light when I saw a ton of white pelicans flying high coming towards me. I pulled over into the shopping center and was able to snap the above. This was only a small portion of them. There were at least 4 more of these cruising around the area. It was amazing to watch them swooping around and cruising.

A walk through history.

It was dark and cloudy on my walk at Philippe Park in upper Tampa Bay in early December. The clouds made it feel a little like it was winter even though it was mild. To the right of of the sidewalk in the first two pictures is an Indian mound so it feels like there’s a large hill here. There are steps up to the top on one side and many people like to jog or walk up the stairs. It was built by the Tocobaga Indians. There is an urban legend that the ancient Indian burial grounds and sites keep the hurricanes from hitting the Tampa area but Odet Philippe’s home was destroyed by a hurricane on this spot in the 1800’s.

I love the old trees here. It feels like old Florida.

Beautyberries are all over the park. I’ve seen catbirds, blue jays and mockingbirds eat the berries.

Odet Philippe is buried here. He was one of the first settlers in the area and was know as the first person to grow grapefruit in the Tampa Bay area. He built his plantation on this site in the early 1800’s. You can read more about his life here (from the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame).

Since I was close to the Safety Harbor pier I stopped for a quick walk before heading home. I was hoping to see manatees but the water was too dark to find them and they didn’t seem to be close to the pier.

SkyWatch Friday

Color in early December

I was out for a walk at Hammock Park in early December. I wasn’t expecting to find any birds so I was just out enjoying the walk with my phone. We hadn’t had much rain so the creeks along the trails had only a trickle of water.

There were small bursts of color if you look closely.

Built in 1888, this small chapel is now used for weddings, memorials and other small ceremonies. It sits at the entrance of the park. It’s a cute little church but I have not had the chance to go inside yet.

Inspire Me Monday

 

The usual visitors

Usual critters in the backyard in late October into early November. Bambi was still hanging around the backyard. Her spots were completely gone by this time.

Another visit from the usual winter visitors. A black and white warbler, bluebird, red bellied woodpecker and a house finch.

I saw this pine warbler hopping around our patio, mostly hiding under the chair.

Another visit from an immature indigo bunting. Maybe they like my backyard. It would be nice if they would come back in April when they are all blue.

Doves don’t get a lot of attention but they do have cool pink feet. And, they always pose so nicely for me.

Visitors at the feeder include a red bellied woodpecker, bluebirds, chickadees, a downy woodpecker and blue jays.

Sitting outside staring up in the trees, looking for birds. I don’t sit out here often because the birds disappear when I go outside. Only the titmouse and chickadees will come to the feeder if I’m out there. Also the mosquitoes will attack even with bug spray on so until this recent cold spell it’s been really buggy out there.

Too early or too late?

In mid-November I went looking for some fall color near my home. I wasn’t expecting to find much but the bald cypress trees turn orange during this time so I was hoping I wasn’t too early or late. The trees at Kapok Park were mostly still green or had already lost their leaves. While there was only a hint of orange, the park still looked pretty with the lake surrounded by the cypress trees.

One of the many crooked trees at the park.

I can’t remember what this plant is but when the wind blows it looks like it’s snowing.

SkyWatch Friday

I’d rather be sailing.

I caught the Dunedin Ladies sailing club going out for a morning sail in early November. It was a little bit cool but the sun was out so it was a perfect day to be out on the water. It looked like they were having fun so I’m thinking maybe I’ll take some sailing lessons this summer.

The fire department was going out but they must have just been doing check ups or drills. They didn’t seem to be in a hurry.

This little snowy egret was checking out some bait fish that had spilled on the dock.

He jumped down and got several fish before the fisherman realized what he was doing. He had a nice little sushi breakfast.

I hope everyone had a nice day yesterday. Soon it will be back to the old grind.

Inspire Me Monday

Party at the baseball field

For the last several years (excluding 2020) my husband’s work Christmas party is held at Enchant. They decorate the Rays baseball field (Tropicana Field) with tons of lights. We have a late lunch in a private suite and then everyone gets to walk around and see the lights. These are all last year’s pictures since we just went to this year’s party and I haven’t gotten a chance to download them. 

Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by! More to come.