A Florida Christmas show

The Tampa Bay Water Ski team has their annual Christmas show on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. My sisters were in town for Thanksgiving week so we headed to the first show. Our cousin was Santa.

They had the largest crowd that weekend that they have ever had. Even the great blue heron couldn’t find a place to land. It’s a great way to kick off the holidays, even if we were in shorts and tshirts.

Like ships passing in the day

Early one morning in November I was out at Fort Desoto and noticed a lot of big boats in the area. Fort Desoto sits at the end of Tampa Bay and the boats pass by the park on the way into Port Tampa from the gulf.

The guys on these boats must have a very strange life. Being gone long periods of time out at sea. I always think of the movie Captain Phillips and wave as they go by the fishing pier. I’m sure no one is paying attention. They are probably working in the cabins getting ready to head out or come in to port depending on which direction they are going.

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Vintage is cool!

After walking around the Largo Botanical Gardens I headed next door to Heritage Village. The park has old historic homes as well as come cool vintage cars. They were having their fall festival in late October so everyone was out walking around.

Interesting wood carvings of birds.

The permanently injured birds from close by George C. McGough Nature Park were at the festival so everyone could see these guys up close and learn about the different birds of prey in their neighborhoods. The hawk in the above pictures was missing an eye.

The little screech owls were everyone’s favorite. It’s rare for most people to see them out in the wild.

A great horned owl up close.

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Ghost town on the beach

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.

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Coming in for a landing

One of the last shows of the year by the Tampa Bay Water Ski Team earlier this month. It looks like they were having a lot of fun. This time I was trying to capture their faces as they dropped the ropes and skied into the side of the lake. This is a free show every Saturday until the dead of winter (meaning December through March here) and today I’ll be attending their Holiday show with family.

Beautiful faces up close

It’s rare to get this close to roseate spoonbills. I see them occasionally in the ponds and ditches around work but they are usually far away. There are several that live in the aviary at the Florida Aquarium and they seem to be comfortable around the crowds. You can’t get close enough to touch them but closer than out in the wild. All are permanently injured with a wing or an eye missing and live here now. They develop more color in their faces as they get older during breeding season. These were all taken with my 200mm lens and cropped.

There are a few other birds there as well such as this ibis trying to eat something that doesn’t look like food.

Views from outside the aquarium.

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A beautiful beach day before red tide rolled in.

Things along the trail from our car to the beach.

Out on the beach, it was a perfect quiet morning in late August. We get there early before it gets too hot and crowded.

The water was crystal clear but warm. This was before the red tide had brought dead sea life to the beach, the calm before the storm. I was traveling light this morning so all above were taken with my phone.

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