A 3 park morning

I was out early one morning right before Christmas.  My first stop was the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but thought I would do a quick lap around the gardens.  The gardens were decorated for Christmas and you could see the lights all over the bushes and trees. I thought this owl statue was cool and would have loved to see it all lit up but I didn’t make it here for the night holiday lights this year.

The usual birds were in the main pond. A green heron at attention, a wood duck (the entire family was floating around the pond) and there were lots of moorhens.

After the botanical gardens, I stopped at nearby Largo Nature Preserve to see if there was anything new. A grebe spent some time preening close to the boardwalk and there have been some northern shovelers there for several weeks now but nothing new or different.

My last stop before heading home wasn’t really a park but the Dunedin marina. I was hoping to see dolphins or manatees hanging around the marina but I didn’t see any on this trip so after walking around for a while it was time to go home for lunch.

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Out on the water

On our dolphin tour during the week of Thanksgiving, we headed out to a small spoil island to walk around and look for shells. It’s a tiny oasis in the middle of all of these tall buildings.

The flag on the island was starting to look a little weathered.

We could see a kiteboarded across the waterway.

There were small sailboats all around the area. It was a windy morning and perfect to be out on the water.

I was looking the other way and heard my sister yell “Oh no, they went over.” I looked around and saw that the boat had flipped on it’s side. The 2 guys were working on pulling it back up. At first I thought they would need to be rescued but our captain said it happens fairly often and the guys on these small boats are good at getting them back upright. That has to take a lot of upper body strength to get that sail out of the water. (That big white complex in the background is Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater).

The guys in another boat nearby were leaning pretty hard to keep theirs from going over.

Nice view heading back to the marina.

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From one side of Tampa bay to the other

It was a two waterfront kind of day in late October. I went for a walk along the waterfront on the bay in downtown St. Pete early in the morning and then went to the Dunedin marina on the gulf side for a sunset walk.

I got to the marina late in the day right as the moon was coming up.

Fun boat at the marina.

This little spot is one of my favorites to catch a sunset. I think it’s also a lot of other people’s spot as well because it can get pretty crowded on the weekends.

Maybe it’s because watching the sunset here makes you feel like you are on vacation. Until you drive home and have to cook dinner and do the dishes. Then back to work the next morning.

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More from the Veterans Memorial Park

More pictures from the Veteran’s Memorial Park in east Tampa. I took so many pictures and had to post most of them. You can see my first post here. The above were taken in the WW2 section.

You can see the cool helicopters from all over the park.  Once I got into the Vietnam section, I could really see the details. You could see into the bottom of this one and it had a camera in the floor. I tried to imagine someone flying this and taking pictures over enemy territory.

The one with the teeth across the front was also impressive. I wonder if it was painted this way when it was in use?

There was also a memorial to the dogs used in the military.

The park is in a beautiful setting and was a perfect way to spend a morning walking around under the trees learning about the history.

The park sits on the Bypass Canal and of course I spent some time walking along the water looking for birds. The only ones I found were two limpkins. One was a juvenile, still yelling at Mom to feed it.

There were a lot of hibiscus bushes in the park, which are are my Dad’s favorite.

Speaking of my Dad, here he is going into boot camp. He was over in Germany in 44 and 45.

He had a camera permit while he was overseas. He had a photo album full of pictures taken overseas that I didn’t even know existed until we found it after he died. I still have his camera pass. He would have been 97 years old last week.

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A peek at a new park.

I found a park on the other side of Tampa that I had never been before. Veterans Memorial Park is on the other side of downtown Tampa from me and I had read about it on a walking club site. There are several other parks in the area called Veterans Memorial Park but this one is different. It recognizes all the wars starting with the Spanish War. There are many monuments and there’s a museum although it was closed when I was there in late August.

I think one of my favorite monuments is the World War 1 statue.

Big army tanks are always cool to see up close.

Many of the displays honor Hillsborough county residents.

It was a quiet morning with not many people here. I felt like I almost had the place to myself. I walked around under the trees for a while and took a ton of pictures. More to come on those.

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At the beach

No, I did not take these this weekend. We avoid the beaches on holidays. We are fortunate enough to live here and can go to the beach any time so we don’t go during the busiest times. This was a beautiful Saturday morning in early May.

The wind was blasting and you could see all of the kiteboarders bobbing up and down across the water near the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The usual birds near the fishing pier included a ruddy turnstone taking a break, a gull who was cruising the wind and a black bellied plover.

One last look for migrating birds at the ranger’s house came up empty. Only a young great blue heron and a white ibis in the fountain.

This osprey had built a nest right on the trail and was giving me the stink eye when I passed by. Luckily there isn’t much traffic on this trail when the heat sets in.

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“Here comes the sun”

It wasn’t dark but the sun had not come up when I arrived at the beach at Fort Desoto in late March. The time had just recently changed and it was still dark after 7am so it wasn’t that early. Still, I was all alone on the beach with the exception of a great blue heron.

After a few minutes the sun was slowly starting come up over the bridge and the birds started to fly around.

Then minutes later it rose quickly and the pelicans were diving in the water for fish.

I turned around to head out to the other side of the park to look for birds and noticed the flag at half staff over the palm trees.

Good thing I had my shoes on. The beach had a lot of these spiky sea urchins as the tide was coming back in.

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Alone in the drizzle

The wind was blowing hard at Fort Desoto on a Saturday morning in late February.  I was the only one there on the fishing pier along with the pelicans.

The views from East beach.

Someone dropped their breakfast on the beach. It looks like a laughing gull. There are eagles that cruise this area and a nest on the other side of the park so it might be one of them.

A wall of rain was coming in off the gulf and it was already drizzling so after snapping this I headed home.

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More from the sailboat sunset

More shots from my stop over to Davis Islands to get some sunset shots. These were taken earlier in then night near the Marjorie Park Marina.

Tampa late in the day.

Across from the yacht basin.

Downtown Tampa far off to the right of the yacht basin.

A beautiful night to be out. This was in mid-March when the weather was still cool.

Almost dark.

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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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