Clearwater sights

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I took my sisters over to the beach for a walk before lunch. We walked around the marina and stopped in some of the gift shops there.

Later on that day we walked on the causeway from Clearwater to Tampa and watched the sun go down before heading home for dinner.

SkyWatch Friday

Storm moving in on Tampa Bay

These were all taken with my phone on my walk across the pedestrian bridge across north Tampa Bay. It was late afternoon on a Sunday.  I was lucky the storm didn’t really move directly towards the bridge and I got a long walk in.  The sun was out on the other side of the bridge. Little disappointed there was no rainbow.

SkyWatch Friday

A first for me

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The week after Thanksgiving I had read that a single American avocet had been seen at a small beach on the causeway near my house. I meant to get over there right away but it was a busy time and I forgot.  A week later I stopped on the beach to see if the bird was still there. The tide was low and there were a ton of laughing gulls so I thought I would have to spend some time looking through all of them. Right when I got out of the car I saw a guy laying on the beach taking pictures of a bird off by itself that was sleeping.  I sat on the sand for a few minutes watching the avocet sleep. Then some people walked by and it woke up the bird. Eventually, the avocet started moving around. I only stayed for half an hour and took tons of pictures but it was worth the stop. It’s rare for avocets to be on our side of the state and they don’t stay for longer than a day. If someone reports one being spotted at Fort Desoto, if you’re not there in an hour, it’s gone so after years of missing them, I finally got to see one.

A walk on a new bridge – Skywatch Friday

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There’s a new walking and biking bridge in town. They built a pedestrian bridge on the Courtney Campbell Causeway next to the car bridge. The causeway connects Tampa to Clearwater. I stopped for a walk after work. It was around 6:30pm but was getting dark from the storm clouds moving in.

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You could see it raining over across the bay towards south Tampa. I didn’t see any lightning.

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Zooming in on Tampa from the top of the bridge. This is extremely cropped.

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It’s not a long bridge. I walked across it twice in about 40 minutes. It was starting to thunder so I headed home.

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Before pulling out at the end of the causeway, I turned around and took this. Not much of a view of the sun.  At least the clouds kept it cooler and there was a strong wind. It was a nice walk after work and I didn’t have to drive out of my way to get there.

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Shorebirds on a yucky morning

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The light birds are sanderlings. I think the darker birds are dunlins. They were all sleeping on the sand.

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The little beach was full of shorebirds sleeping.

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A car drove up and spooked them.

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Marbled godwits trying to sleep. The one in front is yawning.

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For the most part, these birds were not moving. They were taking advantage of the dark cloudy morning to sleep in.

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A handful of skimmers came by looking for a spot to land.

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Ring-billed gull towering over a few common terns.

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Black bellied plovers watching me.

This tiny little beach at the end of the causeway on the Clearwater side of the bay is a catch 22. If it’s sunny and warm outside then the beach is full of people and the shorebirds are pretty scarce. They go further down the water in front of the water treatment plant. If it’s a cloudy day, then not many people are on the beach and the shorebirds take it over. But the light is bad so it’s harder to get decent pictures. You can drive on this little beach so people like to launch their wave runners here. The early morning I stopped, there were only two other cars around so the beach was full of shorebirds sleeping. Tons of ruddy turnstones, semipalmated plovers, sanderlings and dunlins covered the beach. There were a few ring-billed gulls, godwits and dowitcherss mixed in as well. I didn’t see anything really rare there. I was hoping to find a few horned grebes which hung out there last winter but it’s still early.

Blurry ducks (two lifer sightings) and a sunset – Skywatch Friday

My first common loon. I’ve been seeing these guys floating out in the bay from very far away but I wasn’t sure if they were really loons. They just looked like little black blobs floating. As I was driving on the access road along the causeway, looking for the long tailed duck, I saw this guy floating close to the causeway. It was the first time I had seen one that close. Of course, I took this picture right into the sun but I was excited to see a new bird.

Early on Saturday morning, right after I saw the loon, I came across this group of cormorants floating together out in the bay. At first glance, I thought it was a big log or something floating along. Then when I held my camera up and zoomed in I realized it was a flock of birds. They seemed to be in a hurry swimming across the bay.

Still looking for the long tailed duck, I see this duck swimming alone in the waves. I can’t tell what it is all curled up like that.

She looks up! It’s a female lesser scaup. She was all alone.

Finally, after work I find the long tailed duck. I started seeing posts on the Florida Bird Brains forum about this rare duck around 2/21. It took me a couple of days to get out there and two trips to find it. It was very far out when I first got there and could barely see it. I looked it up before I headed out so I would know what to look for. At first I thought I would not be able to even get a remote picture of it but then it took off and started flying towards the causeway. He headed west of me so the above it still very far away and heavily cropped. It was a lifer for me and I may not ever see one of these again so I kept this one. I’m going to try to look for it again though.

It started to get dark so after seeing the long tailed duck I head home. The above view was in my rear view mirror so I pulled off on the access road and snapped a few shots of the sun going down. This will be my view home from work until the time changes.

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