Twins in the woods

The welcoming committee greeted me as I drove into Chesnut Park in late August. Actually, they barely looked up from their feeding to see who had stopped their car. I snapped the above from the car and then headed to the back of the park to park and walk around.

I found the twins in the back of the park. They were pretty big at this point but still cute with those spots. They stayed close to Mom as they crossed the road and then eventually headed into the back woods. Until next year for the babies!

Big blobs in the water

I was walking past the sliding doors to the backyard and saw some big black blobs bobbing in the water. I grabbed my camera and ran out to the dock to catch the manatees coming up for air a few docks down in our channel.

To most people it wouldn’t look like much from a distance but you can’t miss that snout coming up for air. And I didn’t even have to get in my car and drive somewhere to see them. I haven’t kayaked in a while but I use to see them in the outer channels or out in the open bay. They rarely get this far into the channels so it was a treat to see them from my backyard. Several neighbors had also spotted them and came out to watch. There were 3 of them, a mom and 2 babies (which were almost as big as mom).

Every once a while you could see a flipper coming up. When the smaller flipper is leaning on the bigger manatee, it usually means the baby is nursing.

It’s easy to spot the big round flat tail that flaps in the water.

I watched them for a while as they just hung out in the channel. I think they must have spent some time nursing because they didn’t move for at least half an hour and they were on the surface more than usual. Eventually they started making their way back out to the bay. Manatees are like dolphins, it’s always exciting to see them out in the wild no matter how many times you see them.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my sister, Debbie!

My Corner of the World

Seeing spots

Back in late August I headed to a park nearby to see if there were any baby deer. I hadn’t been in a while but had heard there were a few there including twins. It’s theraputic to walk around in the quiet woods after a stressful day but seeing baby deer is an added bonus. I found this family right along the parking lot and leaned on my car for a while watching them eat dinner. The baby would briefly nurse and Mom would just keep eating.

I’m not sure what Mom was doing here. After looking it up, the Mom keeps the baby’s bottom clean to help them poop and to keep the scent off the baby. They say you can tell if a baby has been orphaned if it has a dirty bottom. Now that’s a mother’s love.

The adults started heading into the woods for the night and the baby was running to catch up. I did finally find the twins but more on those later.

Hanging around the fishing pier

The views from both the bay and gulf piers. In the bottom picture, they are putting in a new utility tower that sits off the fishing pier. It’s weird to see the men tied off on top of that platform. I guess they didn’t want to risk a big splash in the water. It’s actually much higher up than it looks from the pier. They will eventually add the top part and the birds will be able to nest and hang out on it since the old one broke off years ago.

Color on the dunes.

Birds around the pier.

Several dolphins were coming up insanely close to the pier. They would pop right up along the pier as I was looking down so I could only fit in half of their bodies. There were at least 2 with one of them having a zig zag pattern near the blow hole.

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A babe in the woods.

The welcoming committee at Chesnut Park. Driving into the entrance I saw these ladies and quickly snapped this with my phone since I hadn’t pulled my camera out yet.

Some of the ladies were already taking their early morning break, resting right along the parking lots.

They always have itches.

I leaned on my car and just watched them for a while, going about their day. It was a treat to see a stag. They usually only show up briefly for mating season here in this park. Most of the older males stay at preserves farther away from town so I rarely see them.

As I was walking down the back trail, I saw this lady cautiously peeking out from the bushes. I stepped back down the trail and saw that she had a baby behind her. They crossed the trail and headed back into the woods.

This was a trip in late August. When it’s crazy hot out and there are few birds around, it’s always fun to see the baby deer.

Butterflies are free to fly.

I was so excited to see a hummingbird clearwing moth at the Florida Botanical Gardens in late May. They are really cool looking with that tail that looks like a brush. They hover and feed just a like a hummingbird but are much smaller and hard to spot.

There were so many butterflies there as well but not a large variety of them.

“You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away
High away
Bye bye”  Elton John

My Corner of the World

 

Fun on a farm

I love going to see the sunflowers at Sweetfield Farms in the spring. Not just because there are fields of flowers but there’s also farm animals. They had baby goats when I visited in mid-May. They were so cute They would come right up to the fence and you could feed them hay. The kids were going crazy over them.

It’s always fun seeing the male turkey showing off when the female walked by.

And you know I love chickens.

They also have vegatables that you could pick. I think the zucchini blooms those yellow flowers.

A grasshopper on a leaf. I’m sure it’s not a good thing to have a grasshopper on your farm. Assuming a lot of them would eat through your plants.

I found a bluebird near the edge of the farm.

So many sunflowers. These were some of the smaller ones. More to come on those.

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Things have changed.

The non-profit Clearwater Marine Aquarium opened on Clearwater Beach in 1972 in a former water treatment plant. They opened as a research and learning center and by 1980 they started rehabilitating dolphins. I don’t remember going there as a child when we use to come down to Clearwater to visit my grandparents but I do remember visiting a few times with my parents when they retired down here in the early 90’s. When Brett and I moved down here 19 years ago I got an annual pass and took my Mom there to see the dolphins a lot. She was in a retirement home and was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She lived close by and it made for a fun morning out for her. She loved just sitting and watching the dolphins and turtles swimming around. Back then you could park at the front door and walk right in. No parking decks or lines to get in, You could also get pretty close up to the dolphins.

The aquarium is home to Winter (the movie star from A Dolphin’s Tale). Winter lost his tail years ago and the aquarium was able to get a prosthetic tail to help him swim better. It’s been several years since I had been and they recently had a big addition built on (they added a 1.5 million gallon tank) so I decided to head over to the beach to see Winter on a rare Monday off. I had to pay to park in a deck, stand in a line (small one though) to get in on a Monday. I’m glad they are doing so well though. They do a lot with injured sea life here. Not just rehabilitating them here but they send teams out to rescue as well.

You walk in on the upper level and can see into the pool. I didn’t take many pictures up here since it was dark inside and the dolphins were swimming lower down in the water. This is not a dolphin show like in the old days. These are injured dolphins that are being rehabilitated that you get to see up close. Although if you hit it right at feeding time, the dolphins do perform specific behaviors as part of feeding but no jumping out of the water and flipping over.

Here’s were you want to be. There are windows all around the tank so you can walk around and see different dolphins. Winter and his girlfriend Hope are in the main tank.

Winter did not have on his prostetic tail while I was there. You can see he is missing his flipper. He came pretty close to the window.

On the other side there were several other dolphins swimming close to the window. The glare from the window did not make it easy to get pictures. The dolphins in the main tank live here full time now. They all have some type of injury including vision loss, hearing loss and other illnesses where they would not survive being released back into the wild. The main goal is to release the dolphins back out and most of them do get set free after they recover.

There are also many other types of animals here including lots of turtles. All were injured at some time. You can see in that (blurry) picture on the bottom that the turtle is missing his front feet.

The new building from the upper parking deck.

Pano across the intercoastal waterway looking towards Clearwater.

Looking toward the beach from the aquarium. I should have gone over for a quick swim but the beach was packed in April, even on a Monday. Parking on the beach is also tough and expensive so there’s that. And, I was starving so it was time to head home for lunch.

Yes, masks were still required in April here. Even though a lot of it is outside, people crowd in front of the windows. Hoping my next trip is maskless.

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Walking through the fog.

Some of the critters along the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in late March including that cute little mouse in the bottom pictures. The alligators were out everywhere and making their loud mating bellow. Even if you couldn’t see them you could hear them bellowing all over the marsh.

It was a quiet morning for flying critters.

The trails were covered in fog when I got to the preserve early in the morning. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the trails and it was a nice quiet morning. I like being here in the fog for a change of season since it makes it seem like winter even if it was mild and muggy.

The bottom two pictures are panos with my phone.

SkyWatch Friday

Cuteness overload

A few days earlier I noticed two little squirrels hanging out of a hole in a tree near the owl’s nest. When I came back to check on the owls, I saw 4 squirrel babies hanging out of the nest. They were in a highly visible spot and everyone was going crazy over the cute babies hanging out of the tree.

Two of them kept slipping back into the hole. One of them climbed up to the top of the hole but then he quickly scrambled back down. Trying to be brave but realizing that it’s a big scary world out there.

Mom came in and brought some food. I couldn’t quite tell what he was eating.

He was so cute covering his mouth while he chewed. Probably didn’t want his siblings to try and steal it.

After Mom left, these two were busy preening each other.

The squirrels eventually went back into hiding, probably to nap so it was back to paying attention to the owls. Those baby squirrels had better hide from this guy who was only one tree over. He has babies to feed as well.

My Corner of the World