All sand, no birds

Pano of the north beach tip at Fort Desoto during the extreme low tide.

It was cold and windy and a perfect day for a walk on the beach. There were a few other people here but I still felt like I had the beach all to myself. This was the lowest tide I have ever seen here. Someone told me it was because of the full Snow moon (the tides are lowest during the full moon in February). I came out to see if there were any shorebirds but I think the wind kept them hiding somewhere else.

The backside of Outback Key was exposed and all of those little mounds had live sand dollars hiding under them.

A few of them partially exposed.

I’ve read that the pink sand comes from microscopic animals in the water.

Textures on Outback Key.

Walking back to the parking lot.

The beach was littered with the above.

This one had a lot of things living on it.

My stash from the morning when I got back home and washed them off. The beach was covered in whole dead sand dollars. It’s rare to find them not broken. I like collecting shells with barnacles. I feel like it gives them personality.

SkyWatch Friday

Annual trip to the electric plant

After a really cold week, I headed over to the TECO (Tampa Electric Co) plant to see the manatees that hang out there in the winter. The warm water coming off the electric plant in the lagoon keeps the manatees warm during the coldest weeks. Years ago, the plant built a manatee viewing center with a big deck that wraps around part of the lagoon. All of those dots in the water are manatees. There were hundreds of them the morning I was there in late January.

The plant says that the smoke coming out of the stack is actually clean steam.  It doesn’t feel smoky when you are there and the sky was clear blue.

Part of the deck overlooking the lagoon. This was still early in the day before the big crowds get here. I got here well before they opened at 10am and waiting in line to park and was out before lunch. They can get crazy crowded and parking is a challenge when the manatees are here in large numbers. The news channels report on them when there’s been a prolonged cold spell so everyone heads over including me.

Some of the birds around the plant.  White pelicans were flying high, a young night heron flew by the deck and a vulture was sitting on a platform built for an osprey nest.

Down at the very end of the lagoon, it’s roped off so boaters or kayakers cannot follow the manatees into the area. There is no swimming with the manatees here.

There’s usually some stingrays splashing around.

I took a ton of manatee pictures so more to come on those.

SkyWatch Friday

 

Driving with the top down

We headed out for lunch on a warm Sunday in January with the top down. Driving down Bayshore Boulevard, you could see the Tampa skyline.

We hadn’t been over to Davis Islands in a long time so we stopped for a quick walk after lunch at the beach area near the yacht basin.

Driving through downtown Tampa on the way home. The above were taken while sitting at red lights. All pictures were taken with my phone.

SkyWatch Friday

Last of the Thanksgiving tourist tour

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.

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Heading in the other direction.

My sisters and I took the Cross Bay ferry from St. Pete to Tampa over Thanksgiving weekend one afternoon. When we got to the Tampa side we had a few minutes to walk around before heading back to St. Pete. You can take a later ferry but we took the next ferry back since we had plans later that day and well, we’ve spent a lot of time here before. I snapped the above before getting back on.

Passing back by the big boats as we were leaving.

The view from the upper deck including the selfie with my phone.

 

Lots of boats were following us out of the channel since it was a beautiful day. It looks like there was a sailboat class in the bottom picture. Lots of tiny white sailboats to the left of the yacht basin.

Bye bye Tampa (at least for a couple of hours).

SkyWatch Friday