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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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).

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Clearwater marina

Over Thanksgiving weekend I was being a tourist in my own town. It was easy to do since I actually had tourists with me. When my sisters were visiting we decided to take a dolphin tour out of Clearwater marina. Brett and I don’t get over to this beach area often since it’s usually busy and things like work get in the way so it was fun to walk around the marina on a cool sunny morning.

There’s a no wake zone coming out of the marina area so we went really slow until we got out into the open intercoastal water. I was snapping pictures along the way. We did finally see dolphins. More on that later.

On the way home we stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier and a manatee was cruising under the pier. I was able to snap the above with my phone as he went by.

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Lunch in Tarpon Springs

Boats along the waterfront in Tarpon Springs. While my sisters were here for Thanksgiving weekend, we headed up to have lunch and walk around the docks. When I was little we use to come down to the Tampa bay area to visit my grandparents and my parents loved to make the drive up to Tarpon to walk around. Little has changed since the 70’s here with the exception of some new public restrooms. The tourist shops have the same stuff and we always leave Hellas with a lot of desserts. The bakery there is the best. They even have chocolate covered baklava.

A small sampling of the desserts and pastries.

Natural sponges are still being harvested today although most sponges you find today are synthetic. Tarpon Springs was built on sea sponges being harvested in the area.

Christmas decorations along the docks. It’s always fun to take a selfie in the big ornaments.

Being a tourist in my hometown.

In July, I decided to take a break from walking around in the parks and headed to downtown Tampa to take a walk along the riverfront. I headed out early since it was going to be a hot day. Not many people out that early.  Just me and a few joggers when I first got there. The downside is that the sun was behind the buildings so it made sunny shots a challenge. The upside was that I was walking in the shade for the first part.

Along the Tampa convention center.

Lots of activities on the water. You can rent boats of all sizes or take a water taxi around the area.

The old Cass street bridge that was built in 1926.  Everyone is wondering when they are going to tear it down. It adds a bit of history to the area even if it’s an eyesore.

When I got back to Riverwalk Park, they had turned on the water fountain. I really wanted to walk through there.

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A holiday weekend at the beach.

We always say that we stay away from the beaches on a major holiday weekend. We broke our own rule on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. We decided to go spend a few hours in the morning at Fort Desoto Park and then swing by to visit Brett’s aunt since her nursing home is close by. We were there before 9am and left before lunch. The crowds were thick before we left.

Sea hares in the water and on the beach.

A manatee cruising by the fishing pier.

On the fishing pier, I caught this dragonfly resting on a fishing pole. This poor shrimp was bait.

Ships passing by the pier and snowy egrets hanging out on the shelter.

We took the scenic route over to St. Pete beach before heading to visit his aunt.

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“A three hour tour!”

While we were in Naples we took a boat ride around the bay and out to a spoil island. We passed the big boats and big houses near the marina.

It was a beautiful day out and there was not much traffic on the water.

 

We saw so many dolphins along the way. They were coming right up to the boat. The bottom two shots I took with my phone.

A lot of the channel markers had osprey nests on them. Most of the babies were grown up and yelled as we went by.

We cruised for almost an hour to a spoil island where there was no one else on the beach. Just us and a few other people that were on the boat. We walked around for close to an hour looking for shells.

Not many birds on the beach but far away we saw an osprey had caught a fish and had landed on the beach with it before taking off again.

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A windy day at Fort Desoto

I had a rare Friday off in mid-April and headed to Fort Desoto to see if there were any birds migrating through. I was really too early since a storm was just starting to move through. It was drizzling on and off most of the morning but it was still fun to be out at the beach, even in bad weather.

Birds were diving in the water to catch the tiny fish near the pier.

The usual great blue herons and pelicans were flying close to the pier.

A lone frigatebird was hovering right over the pier. They usually stay high up in the sky but this one was right over my head. She just kept hovering in the wind. The above are not cropped at all. I felt like I could almost reach out and grab her.

Before leaving I hit the back trail and caught this nanday parakeet peeking out of a hole in a dead palm tree. I think they nest back here but I rarely go back this far in the summer since the bugs will attack no matter how much bug spray you use.

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