Frisky manatees

It was late April and after walking the trails at Fort Desoto one morning looking for migrating birds with no luck, I headed to the fishing pier. It was just too nice to go home yet.

As usual pelicans were flying by.

I started looking out in the water to see if there were any dolphins swimming around the pier and found a pair of manatees instead. They were fairly far out in the shallow area so they were easy to spot. At one point it looked like they were mating. I could see one of the manatee’s flipper on top of the other manatee. After a few minutes they started swimming towards the pier.

They swam right up to the pier and luckily I had my zoom lens so these were at 80mm.

They mated several times right along the pier. At this point there was a huge crowd of people watching. Several people said they had never seen one before.

These above were taken with my phone. They eventually swam under the pier and then hung out on the other side before slowly swimming away. What a great thing to see! I had planned to do a quick walk and snap a few shots of dolphins but I stood there for an hour since they were so close to the pier and moving so slowly.

Fort Desoto Park in early March

I hadn’t been down to Fort Desoto Park since the middle of December so I was due for a trip in early March. The first stop at the park was North beach to look for shorebirds and reddish egrets. Most of the shorebirds were scarse this morning but I did see a cute little piping plover.

I was trying to focus on the laughing gull flying with something in his beak and realized you can see the Don Cesar Hotel far away on St. Pete beach. It’s hard to miss that big pink hotel.

This willet had a great snack and was trying to hide it from the other willets.

 

One last shot of the old bay pier and the old iconic yellow bait shop. It’s all being torn down now and replaced with a new pier.

Some of the shorebirds that were hanging around the small beach next to the big fishing pier. The willets and sanderlings were trying to sleep. At some point something spooked them and off they went before flying in a circle and landing back again. That common tern had been taking a bath and flew into the sleeping guys to catch a nap.

It was windy on the fishing pier and the usual birds were having trouble with their hair.

Someone caught a fish although it looks too small to eat.

I was out on the end of the fishing pier and could see this great egret with a big snack in his beak,

Foggy morning at the piers

At the end of December I woke up and peeked out the window. It was really foggy so I got ready quickly and headed out the door. I love it when it’s foggy. I stopped by the nearby fishing pier early that morning and could not see across the bay. I could barely make out the end of the pier.

I noticed these strands of oyster shells hanging under the pier and looked them up when I got back home. These are VOG’s (vertical oyster gardens). The water around the shore of Safety Harbor and Oldsmar (which is Old Tampa Bay) was found to be the least healthy in all of the Tampa Bay. Not surprised. There’s a new Save Our Bay program and the easiest thing to start with was using oysters to filter out the water. One oyster can filter out 50 gallons of water a day. There were a lot of these on the dock and they are encouraging people who live on the water to hang these on their docks as well. It will take several months for the oysters to start to grow on these so I’ll keep an eye out.

Next I headed to the Safety Harbor fishing pier since I was close by running errands. It was foggy here as well but that didn’t stop those kayakers from being out.

I saw several manatees coming up for air right next to the dock and was bummed I didn’t have my camera with me but these phone shots turned out okay.

I think the sun was trying to peek out by the time I left.

SkyWatch Friday

Friendship Friday

Dolphins, Osprey and Eagles, Oh My!

I found an eagle’s nest in my neighborhood and I’ve been keeping my camera in my car in case I wanted to stop and get some pictures. The nest is high up in a utility tower and it’s a tough shot with the light. The sun is behind it most of the day and I can’t get on the other side.

One recent day I went early in the morning and stood for a while watching the nest. When I first got there I didn’t see any eagles so I though maybe it was a bust but then one flew in and started feeding the baby. You can just make out the baby’s head in between the sticks. I’ve only seen one eagle here so I wonder if the parent is now flying solo with this baby. Both parents usually hang around the nest.

After the eagle’s nest, I headed over to the nearby fishing pier just to see what was going on. It was too nice to head back home. I could see dolphins out in the bay.

There’s usually several osprey diving around for fish but they are far away. This one cruised close to the fishing pier.

At some point I realized there was an eagle chasing the osprey. The osprey had a fish in his talens and the eagle was trying to steal it. Eventually the osprey dropped the fish in the water and the eagle stopped chasing him. They were pretty far out in the bay but it was still pretty cool to see.

The eagle flew by the pier and landed in a tree at the end of the pier. I ran back down the pier towards the parking lot hoping he wouldn’t take off before I got back there. I was able to take a couple of shots before he took off again and flew over the trees towards a neighborhood. Where was he going?

My Corner of the World

Low tide in late December

I headed down to Fort Desoto Park in late December hoping to see the huge flocks of white pelicans. No luck on North beach but I found a small flock of them way out sitting on a spoil island. The first shot is zoomed in and cropped up. Later I was walking on the beach and a lone one flew over my head.

I saw the above kingfisher flying around out in the North Beach marsh, diving for fish.

A few dunlins were feeding in the shallow end.

I love this time of year when it’s sunny and cool and the tide is really low. You can walk out forever before you get to ankle deep water.

Watching the ships go by from the fishing pier.

I stopped by Crescent Lake Park on the way home to look for otters and found a pair of white pelicans instead.

A few other birds at the lake were a wood stork and a lesser scaup with a snack in his beak. I think he had a crawfish.

SkyWatch Friday

The big orange dot

 

I was at the Safety Harbor fishing pier for sunrise in the early part of September taking shots of that big orange ball coming up.

At first Brett was like “Maybe you shouldn’t go to the pier in the dark alone.” I knew I wouldn’t be alone since this is a popular spot for sunrises. Not to mention the early joggers that are there. I didn’t realize there would be so many people there but it was a Saturday morning. It had been raining most of the summer and this was one of the first beautiful non-cloudy mornings.

Trying to get creative with different shots.

The sun was up now. I loved the pigeons all lined up on the roof. They had the best spot to watch it come up.

I know I always hate the effort to get out this early in the morning but it was a beautiful sunrise and I still had the whole day to do things.

SkyWatch Friday

Fishing on the fishing pier

One of the fun things about walking around on the fishing pier besides fishing, is watching the birds steal the bait fish. The snowy egrets get in squabbles over the tiny fish.

All lined up, waiting for someone to pull up a bait net full of fish.

This great blue heron had already eaten and was wiping his beak on the light.

Cruising by with the big boats in the background.

The guy who owned this rolling bucket was not paying attention. He had some fish already in there but left it open and walked farther down the pier to pull up another net full of bait fish. The snowy egrets and great egrets were having a feast until he came back.

 

That small orange dot in the sky

I don’t get out for sunrise very often. During the week I’m busy with work and on the weekends I’m either heading out to a park to walk to look for birds or sleeping in. In early September I was up on a Saturday with no plans (and sunrise isn’t that early this time of year) so I packed up and headed to Safety Harbor.

You could barely see the sliver of moon high up in the sky. The line between the water and land was turning bright orange.

People were starting to show up to the fishing pier and boats were heading out.

It was such a nice morning out. Birds were cruising back and forth across the pier.

Here it comes! A small orange dot off in the distance. I walked around the park for a while and will post those pictures later.

SkyWatch Friday

Heading into sunrise

I was running late but it was just as well since there was that small cloud bank right at the earth’s surface. I was trying to get to Fort Desoto for sunrise, although since they don’t open until 7am I would have gotten it already risen anyway. Since there was no one else around, I stopped for a few seconds and shot this out the window with my phone at the top of the bridge before going into the park. I hadn’t been down to the park in 3 months due to red tide so I was pretty excited to be here early.

Stopping right before the entrance, the clouds were making the sun a little hazy.

The color was soft at the East Beach turnaround, looking towards the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

Half an hour later the sun was already high up. I headed over for a quick walk at the bay pier. Seeing the bait shop, it always makes me think it would be a great house to live in out on this pier. To wake up and peek out the window at the sunrise over the water every morning would be pretty cool.

Big boats on the water. It was a beautiful morning out and the dolphins were pretty close to the pier (more on those later).

SkyWatch Friday

Hanging around the fishing pier

The views from both the bay and gulf piers. In the bottom picture, they are putting in a new utility tower that sits off the fishing pier. It’s weird to see the men tied off on top of that platform. I guess they didn’t want to risk a big splash in the water. It’s actually much higher up than it looks from the pier. They will eventually add the top part and the birds will be able to nest and hang out on it since the old one broke off years ago.

Color on the dunes.

Birds around the pier.

Several dolphins were coming up insanely close to the pier. They would pop right up along the pier as I was looking down so I could only fit in half of their bodies. There were at least 2 with one of them having a zig zag pattern near the blow hole.

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