Yoga at the zoo

The week before Christmas I attended yoga at Zoo Tampa. It was on an early Saturday morning. The weather was perfect. They had a few animals show up before we started. There was a goat but he took off before I could get a picture. Santa also showed up for a visit.

My new yoga buddy.

The view from my yoga mat.

After yoga I walked around the zoo for a while.

Black bellies and yellow flowers

It’s always fun to see black bellied whistling ducks playing in the marsh. This time they were playing among the yellow bur marigolds in late December. Several families were hanging out in the same area. The adults have pink beaks and the juveniles still have gray beaks.

One was keeping an eye on a tricolored heron that was close to the group.

Flying across the marsh at Circle B Bar Reserve.

SkyWatch Friday

Gator day at the park.

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.

In the backyard

Monarch caterpillars in the backyard this past couple of months. In late December, they all disappeared and the leaves were stripped so we cut back the milkweed plants.

Our milkweed plants were overrun with the above bugs. The caterpillars didn’t seem to mind. We didn’t want to spray the bugs since the butterflies would be on the plants. Since we cut the plants back the bugs are gone, although I’m sure they will come back once the plants start to grow back this spring.

This little guy was watching me take pictures of the bugs. I kept asking him why he didn’t eat them all. He said he preferred fries.

Wasps on the Bismark palm tree.

Usual visitors in the backyard, an osprey on our neighbor’s sailboat mast and a phoebe with a snack on our fence. The phoebe is pretty skittish so I had to take the above through the bedroom window.

A full moon in December from the driveway.

Our World Tuesday Graphicimage-in-ing: weekly photo linkup

Being a tourist, continued

If you look closely you can always find birds at a marina. While my sister and I walked around the Clearwater Beach marina, we saw tons of pelicans, great egrets and snowy egrets. Birds we didn’t see that are usually there are great blue herons and green herons. They hang around the docks hoping to be fed the scraps when the fishing boats come in and the fisherman fillet the fish right there. I recently found out that it’s illegal to feed birds fish parts. The pelican’s pouch is very delicate and made to swallow the fish whole. If there are bones sticking out, they will puncture the pouch and tear, keeping the pelican from being able to scoop up fish on their own. They will eventually starve. The bird sanctuaries in the area are full of pelicans with torn pouches from eating fish parts. Another reason why wild animals should not be fed.

Signs at the fishing piers that people seem to ignore.

Being a tourist in my own town.

When you’ve eating too much over Thanksgiving weekend and you have family in town, you head to the beach. Since the actual beach was too crowded and parking was impossible, my sister and I stopped at the Clearwater Beach marina and walked around for while. Looking at the big boats and enjoying the afternoon. I don’t get over to this area often, too crowded and congested. But, it’s fun to stop by once in a blue moon. It reminds me of coming to visit my grandparents as a child with my family.

We also stopped at Sand Key beach for a quick walk and found these above. They are going to submerge them in the gulf so the coral can grow on them.

SkyWatch Friday

Looking for manatees

When my sisters were here over Thanksgiving weekend we went out looking for manatees. The most dependable place to find them is at the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa electric plant on the other side of the bay. The manatees congregate here in the winter months due to the electric plant’s discharge canal where the water that cools the electric plant is sent back out into the bay warm and clean. I’ve been there before over the years when you could see hundreds of manatees near the boardwalk but this time there were none. You could see a few far out in the canal but they just looked like bumps floating in the water. We would have been crushed if we hadn’t seen the below the day before.

Another reliable place to see manatees (and much closer to my home) is the Safety Harbor fishing pier. We were out running around one afternoon and stopped by on the way home. We counted at least 6 swimming around the pier so we hung out there for a while watching them come up for air.

Linking to My Corner of the World.