I had my first real close encounter with a big one recently at Circle B Bar Reserve. I’ve been visiting this park for over 10 years and until recently, I always joked that the gators were fake. They never seemed to move, just sleeping on the other side of the pond. I was at the park early and the water levels along the trails were high. The first picture was taken with my 300mm lens so I wasn’t that close. The second one was taken with my phone. That’s my shadow at the bottom. There were people coming up behind me and once the big guy crossed the trail, we all headed down together. Our theory was safety in numbers. By the time we got to were he had crossed, we saw him swimming half way across the lake.
Another big one on the same morning, taken with my 300mm lens.
A few tiny ones on the trail.
One of the “really” big ones across the lake, on the other side of the bank.
Otherwise, it was a slow morning with the usual turtles and warblers.
It finally looks like fall in late December.
Linking to My Corner of the World.
A nice clean beach after Park supervisor Jim had scooped up all of the dead fish from the red tide algae bloom that lands on the beach during high tide. This morning in late October, Jim had told me that they had just cleaned up 6 miles of beaches, trying to keep it clean so the tourist can enjoy the beach. Even in late November, we were still getting some dead sea life but not as bad as it was in October.
It was still a beautiful morning even with a slight fishy smell.
The dog beach and the fishing pier were deserted that morning since no one wanted to be in the red tide water. It was like a ghost town.
I did see some dolphins coming out of the water from far across the bay.
Little critters at the Largo Nature Preserve.
Lots of turtles around the lake.
I stopped by Safety Harbor fishing pier on the way home and saw a kiteboarder across the bay.
A quick walk around Largo Nature Preserve in September.
I spent a few minutes with another deer family in early September at Chesnut Park. I saw them crossing the street while driving into the park, then saw them again on the back trail.
Later, I caught this young buck by the swings. It was a quiet morning, otherwise they would all be hiding in the woods.
Linking to Wednesday Around the World.
More from my after work walk in the drizzle to visit the deer at Chesnut Park in late July. The park was quiet because of the rain so the deer were very active and near the parking areas.
Walking out on the beach this past Saturday morning seemed like any other Saturday morning. There wasn’t a smell (since the wind was coming from the east or other side of the park). At first glance the beach seemed clean but weirdly void of any people. As I got closer to the water, that’s when I saw the signs of red tide. Red tide is a naturally occurring thing that happens in the gulf when the algae blooms and releases toxins that kill the sea life. The last big red tide event happened here in 2005. It was devastating to the sea life that year. Beaches south of us in Sarasota and Fort Myers have had red tide issues since early this year. It just reached my beach in the last few weeks. I had heard mixed reviews on how bad the dead fish were at the beach so I headed out to see what was going on. The day before, the park rangers had cleaned up 6 miles of beaches full of dead fish but fish keep coming flowing back on the beach with the waves.
Here is some scientific information on red tide.
This was the first time I had seen so many different crabs on the beach along the water. These camouflage crabs will eventually make their way back into the water. The ranger told me that crabs in general are not as affected by the red tide but it was weird to see them on the beach.
Lots of different ones on the beach including this crab that had a barnacle living on it.
While our beach has had a mild case of red tide so far, many of the beaches south of us had record numbers of dead dolphins and manatees turning up this summer.