Skirting by

How do you get a big beached sailboat back out into the water?  Very carefully with a big truck. For many people in the Tampa bay area, we were really lucky when Hurricane ETA skirted by us last week. It was a little nerve racking on Wednesday night as Brett and I were trying to go to bed and 70 mile winds were blasting through our channels. There wasn’t a lot of wind damage to the area but a lot of flooding. We kept getting up and peeking out the window to see how far the water had gotten into our yard. High tide was around midnight and by 10:30 we had water over our seawall and a few feet into our yard. We had some minor damage to our dock but many people had flooding in their homes. Even people who didn’t live near the water had flooding in their streets and ended up with flooded homes.

The news was saying there were sailboats beached in the small town of Gulfport in south St. Petersburg. I was out running around on Saturday morning and stopped by. I had heard there were 12 boats beached but by Saturday there was only 6 left on the beach. They were craning one of the boats to put back in the water. That’s a big task.

It looks like there is just minor damage to these boats. Mostly lots of dings but I’m sure that expensive. Some of these boats had people living on them so they have been displaced until the boats can be fixed.  Gulfport doesn’t sit directly on the gulf. It’s a small bay off the intercoastal waterway and many boats stay anchored in this area.

Otherwise, it was a beautiful morning and you would never know a bad storm came through 2 days earlier if it wasn’t for the sailboats sitting on the beach. I could see the pink hotel across the bay (Don Cesar Hotel) that sits on the beach.

The Christmas tree was up in front of the beach. I’m assuming someone put this here the day before since there wouldn’t be any balls here after that storm. The restaurants in front of the beach were opening up for breakfast. They had spent the last 2 days cleaning up the sand off the floors.

SkyWatch Friday

All alone on the beach

Lots of weird things on the beach at low tide at Fort Desoto. The first three look like brains to me but they call it sea pork. Maybe some time of coral.  The bottom one is a moon jellyfish. There’s been some articles in the news about how the beaches in the area are full of them. Thinking one of the last big storms blew them close to the area.

It was very quiet in late September. Hardly anyone on the beach. I walked out to the end of Outback Key and had the place all to myself.

This guy was feeding in a recent rain puddle near the parking lot. I can’t ever pass up taking shots of a spoonbill.

My Corner of the World

Summer at the beach

I got to Fort Desoto Park early on a Saturday morning in late July.  The clouds were starting to roll in before the people got here.

I could see it raining over to the far left and was debating on how far to walk out on the Outback Key spit. I had my umbrella in my backpack but wouldn’t want to have to walk back half an hour with lightning.

I walked out a little ways but the storm was moving in quick.

I stopped in the little lagoon near the parking lot to get pictures of a spoonbill. It was drizzling on me but the sun was behind my back and I could see a faint rainbow.

Minutes later the storm had moved away and I headed over to the bird sanctuary.

SkyWatch Friday

The beach has reopened.

On the trail at Fort Desoto. A butterfly and some kind of fruit that I have never noticed before. The red really stuck out in all of the green right on the trail.

A snowy egret trying to steal a snack from a fisherman.

Some of the birds near the fountain includes a loggerhead shrike, a female summer tanager and an ibis.

Dolphins were swimming around the pier.

Looking across the lagoon, lots of different shorebirds. The  middle shot has black skimmers in the front and the bottom picture shows red knots.

It was the first week in May and the park had just recently opened. I got there early and was leaving before 10am and shot this from the pier. The beach was filling up fast. Time for me to head home.

SkyWatch Friday

A sight I thought I’d never see

Last Sunday Brett and I headed over to Clearwater to go to Costco and we decided to cruise over to Clearwater beach to see how weirdly empty it would be. We rarely go over to this beach even though it’s only 30 minutes from our house with no traffic. The problem is that there is never “no traffic” so it actually takes at least close to an hour. With the exception of a rainy day in the winter, the beach is always crowded and the parking is minimal and expensive. This is the beach that was on the news in late March due to all of the ‘spring breakers” on it. So now, even the locals who live close by can’t go for a walk in the mornings. We just drove through and left so I took these with my phone through the window. All of the parking lots were closed and we saw police cruising around. It was weird to see not a single person on it. Even in the rainy winter you might see people jogging on it. It was a sad sight to see and after running our errands we went home and disinfected everything and then plopped down on the couch for a movie fest.

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Just being outside

A beautiful morning out at Fort Desoto. Out on Outback Key, you can see St. Pete beach far off in the distance. That big pink hotel (Don CeSar) really stands out.

Rush hour traffic on the water.

Usual birds around the fishing pier. A ruddy turnstone, loggerhead shrike and a ring billed gull with just a touch of orange around his eye.

TOTO, the banded oystercatcher, was there in his usual spot.

His mate was close by looking for food.

A nice cool morning for a walk on the beach at Fort Desoto in February. Sadly now this is more important than every, just being outside. Yesterday Brett and I went to the beach just to be outside since everything else is closed. Even the zoo is closed (although the keepers will still be there taking care of the animals). I’m working at home for the next few weeks and I’m sure the walls will start closing in. I’m going to try and walk in the neighborhood after work each night to get out. Hope everyone stays sane out there. Thanks for stopping by and let me know how you are coping.

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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

Alone on the beach.

A few of the usual birds at Fort Desoto including a crow with an apple, a loggerhead shrike and our favorite hybrid great blue heron/great egret.

It’s rare to see the ghost crabs out of their holes. They are pretty skittish.

Heading into Tampa bay.

A quiet morning on the beach. Very few people here. This was the Saturday before Hurricane Dorian was headed our way. On this morning it was forecasted to head straight across the state and hit us on Monday so many people had canceled their vacation plans. Little did we know at this point it would stall over the Bahamas and then head north.

A phone pano of the north beach tip.

SkyWatch Friday

Seafood for breakfast.

The above sandwich tern flew right in front of me and landed with a fish. Adult sandwich terns have that yellow tip on their beak.

He then proceeded to fly around the flock of different birds on the beach looking for his mate or baby. Not sure which. He seemed to be lost and none of the other birds tried to take the fish.

Some of the other babies tried to steal it after a few seconds. Eventually the bird flew off down the beach. He must have come back to the wrong flock on the beach.

This royal tern baby was driving his parents crazy, begging for food. Royal terns have orange beaks and always look like they have a bad hairpiece sticking up.

This lonely willet had a sand flea.

Growing up a skimmer

In mid-July the baby black skimmers were growing up quickly and heading out on their own. Many were already down at the water line and practicing their wing flaps.

There were still a few younger ones including the one on the left with a young royal tern and much older juvenile skimmer on the right.

Soon the babies will start flying and leave along with the parents and then all that’s left on the beaches are those annoying laughing gulls, looking to steal some kid’s sandwich or chips.

A small part of the skimmer army, lined up along the water.

Photographing New Zealand