I spent a morning at the Safety Harbor fishing pier in late March. It was sunny when I first got there and I could just barely make out this kiteboarder cruising across upper Tampa bay. Tampa was just a shadow in the distance.
A sailboat anchored near the marina.
A cormorant guards the “no wake zone” sign.
Here’s the reason for the No wake and then Slow wake as you leave the marina. Manatees hang out here all year round.
It was low tide and the ibis were picking off tiny crabs.
A snowy egret feeding near the pier.
By the time I was about to leave the sky was dark and it looked like it was going to rain. I headed for my car not wanting to be out on the pier if lightning started but the sky said “Just kidding”. We are in a severe 25 year record drought right now. We are hoping the summer rains start soon.
My morning walk started out sunny in mid-December. I parked at the marina and walked in the opposite direction of my usual route. I followed the long sidewalk along the water that heads towards Clearwater.
I found another damaged stranded boat. A common sight since Hurricane Ian and Nicole. Eventually this will get hauled out of the water and probably scrapped.
Looking across the water to the left you can see the hotels on Clearwater Beach.
When I got back to the marina and headed for my car I was walking along the sea wall and spotted 2 manatees close by. I love seeing their big squishy snouts coming up for air. I wonder how old the one on the right is with all of those barnacles attached to his back. The barnacles are not parasites and don’t feed on the manatee. They just live on top and are hitching a ride. They can eventually fall off as well.
Folly Farms in Safety Harbor was all decorated for Christmas with lights everywhere. I was there early in the morning and many of the lights were still on. It was weird looking for birds and butterflies with a tshirt on and Christmas lights everywhere. The farm has a community garden and someone had sunflowers blooming in their square, in the middle of December! I could only find a few butterflies in the butterfly garden even though it was still blooming.
The only bird I found at the farm was a hermit thrush. I had not seen one since 2018 and I had just seen one in my backyard before finding this one at the farm. I had to wonder if it was the same one from my yard even though I was 15 minutes away.
I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier before heading home and found some black capped (or nanday) parakeets in the parking lot. They were eating seeds from the top of the trees. They blend in well in the trees and I might not have seen them if they hadn’t been screaming.
A manatee was close to the pier but the dolphins were pretty far out in the bay.
Watching the ibis feed off tiny crabs in the water.
Pelicans were cruising by the pier.
There were several osprey out diving for fish in the bay but only one came close enough to try and get shots. He swooped down and grabbed that fish so fast and then went the other way. I was hoping he would fly towards me. Oh well. I’ll try again.
In late November I was finally out with my camera since having my shoulder surgery in early October, I could still only pick up 3lbs so I had my older smaller camera on my lightest lens. All together they were at 3.5 lbs so I was cheating a little but kept the camera in my left hand for most of the time. It felt good to be out walking around with it but I had an old 300mm lens and didn’t have much reach. I headed to the Dunedin marina for a long walk and then pulled the camera out of the car and walked around by the boats for a short while.
There were a few shorebirds at the tiny beach in front of the marina. Willets and ruddy turnstones are always there.
Something spooked these semi-palmated plovers several times.
One of the resident osprey sitting on a sailboat mast. They have a nest right in the parking lot here so I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on the babies this year.
An anhinga resting on the old abandoned boat.
A phone shot, this old sailboat got wedge up against the channel marker during Hurricane Nicole in early November and has been stuck there ever since. It’s a great place for the birds to rest.
A great egret posing nicely.
Pelicans around the marina.
A manatee was right up against the sea wall. This was taken with my phone. The shadows of the railing were a little tough though.
I was on the way home and stopped at a red light when I saw a ton of white pelicans flying high coming towards me. I pulled over into the shopping center and was able to snap the above. This was only a small portion of them. There were at least 4 more of these cruising around the area. It was amazing to watch them swooping around and cruising.
The big kapok tree in Safety Harbor was blooming in late February. Much earlier than last year. I was driving by and saw the moon going down behind it so I had to pull over and snap a few.
After leaving the kapok tree I decided to swing by the fishing pier for a quick walk. There were a few manatees coming up for air.
A female lesser scaup cruising by.
I saw this osprey fishing for breakfast far out in the bay. He pulled up a big one and as he was flying away he dropped it. I was hoping he would try for another fish but he just flew over my head and far out of sight. Maybe he was embarrassed.
One day I was coming home and saw two red faces pop up from a pond in my neighborhood. They were hanging out along the golf course. I have since seen them several times but not since late February. I’m thinking maybe they are nesting but I couldn’t find them anywhere.
There’s a fenced in section of woods at the end of my street and when I’m out walking I always look down this open spot, thinking I’ll never see anything in here but it’s a pretty spot. One morning I could just make out 2 deer in between the trees.
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.
Trying to stay off my legs (due to hip bursitis) but not wanting to stay at home, I headed out for the Dunedin marina and fishing pier early one morning in mid-November. I spent the morning just hanging out, sitting on benches watching the activity around the marina. From the shots above, it was pretty quiet that morning.
I did see a manatee cruising around the boats in the marina.
This anhinga was having fish for breakfast.
Some of the birds also hanging around the marina, a green heron and lots of pelicans.
A spotted sandpiper was digging around the exposed muck at the boat ramp.
It’s not often you get this close to a shark. Above are some of the bigger things under water at MOTE Aquarium in Sarasota.
The Aquarium rehabilitates and houses permanently injured turtles, manatees and dolphins. The turtle above was missing an eye.
We don’t have crocodiles in the Tampa Bay area, at least not yet. They can be found in areas much farther south including the Everglades. I’ve never seen one out in wild. They look very comical, almost like a cartoon.
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.