A beautiful morning out

I love coming down to North Shore Park to walk. It sits on the bay side of St. Pete and the water is usually pretty calm. There’s a long paved trail that’s always busy with joggers and walkers. Occasionally I find an interesting bird.

Far out across the bay you can barely make out two dolphins coming up for air as they cruise by the pelicans. Even from far away it’s cool to see the dolphins.

The tide was low and the birds were pretty far out in the muck.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

White pelicans in St. Pete

I wasn’t surprised to see white pelicans at North Shore Park in St. Pete in late December. They usually spend the winter somewhere around the park although it’s hit or miss to catch them right in front of the beach. They cruise around the area and sometimes hang out far into the channels in the neighborhoods nearby. I had stopped by for a quick walk and ended up going back to my car and getting my camera. They were standing right there in pelican leg high water.

Turning around to leave, I could see an osprey sitting up on the lights.

Sometimes you just have to stop and watch the boats go by.

There were lots of little shorebirds along the beach. I then decided to stop by nearby Crescent Lake Park on the way home.

Right in the middle of the lake at the park were 3 lone pelicans. I have seen them here before as well but they were all swimming separately. I wonder if they originally came with the beach group and somehow got separated.

I spent some time trying to catch this osprey diving for fish but he was just too far across the lake and he kept missing.

Real snow birds in Florida

I had heard there was a pair of snow geese out on the beach near downtown St Pete. Snow geese are rare in Florida although not unheard of. In early 2020 we had a pair hanging around the Feathersound neighborhood. Last March there was a pair spotted on the other side of the state (makes me wonder if it’s the same pair). Searching the web, there have been many sightings of them in Florida several times a year all the way back to 1996 so it’s not that rare. They really shouldn’t be here though. Their habitat is in the central part of the country and shouldn’t be this far east (they do go farther south though, migrating into Mexico during non-breeding season).

They spent the early morning that I was there cruising along the beach area near North Shore Park. They looked like they were eating the grass along the sea wall. They didn’t seem to mind the people walking around and even walked closely to the volleyball area.

Stepping up over the sidewalk.

Twice they walked down to the water and took a quick swim and then headed back out on the beach.

They picked up an ibis friend who walked with them for a while.

It wasn’t a good sign that they were here. Although they seemed fine when I was there, a couple of days later they were picked up by a rescue group since they were starting to act sick. They are being rehabilitated and hopefully will be released soon.

North Shore Park

The tiny beach at North Shore Park, near downtown St. Petersburg was not as welcoming as these pictures look. They had just raked the beach of the dead fish from red tide but the fish were still floating up on the beach. At least the smell wasn’t bad and it was such a beautiful Saturday morning. The storms were coming in a little early since this was right before lunch.

The resident hybrid great egret/great blue heron was lurking around, trying to find a live fish to eat. Most of the birds don’t eat the dead fish but a few do and they get sick. The bird rescues are all full of sick fish from the red tide.

I stopped at Crescent Lake Park on the way home for a quick walk to look for otters. No luck on the otters but I did see the above in the vegetation in the lake. A juvenile little blue heron, a great blue heron, a blue jay, a snowy egret and a green heron.

My Corner of the World

A sad story – Caution

Red tide has hit the Tampa bay area like a freight train. The beaches are full of dead fish and sea life. This is the worse red tide episode that anyone can remember. We’ve had it bad twice since we’ve lived here, back in 2005 and 2018. The smell can be really bad so we stay away from the beaches as most locals do. The beaches near the hotels get cleaned up daily during this time in hopes that the tourists can get out on the beaches. So far the area has picked up over 3 million pounds of dead sea life. These pictures were taken on 2 separate trips to a small beach near downtown St. Pete. The first trip was in early July and had just spotty fish on the beach. The 2nd trip was later in mid-July and they had raked the beach the day before but it was already getting full of fish.

This is nothing compared to what the news is showing. This year it’s not just dead bait fish. It’s also dolphins, manatees, stingrays, goliath groupers and the birds get sick if they eat the dead fish. The seabird rescues are full of sick birds.

Red tide is an algae bloom that is a natural phenomenon with records dating back to the 1800’s but both pollution and climate change appear to be making them worse. My dad had pictures of the dead fish when it happened back in the early 50’s. After leaks were detected this spring from a major wastewater reservoir at Piney Point, south of Tampa, people think that’s what is making this year’s red tide so much worse.

This little beach is usually packed with people on a Saturday morning. The winds were blowing from the west, towards the bay so the smell wasn’t bad but there were few people hanging around. The water looked dark and icky so there won’t be anyone swimming in that for a while.

Florida Fish and Wildlife keep a chart that is updated daily. This was the most recent one. Luckily we live up in the north Tampa channels where the gray circles are and it hasn’t hit us. At least not yet.

SkyWatch Friday

Rush hour traffic on the bay

Things were quiet in the area in late October. Fall migration was pretty slow but I still wanted to get out for a walk so I headed to North Shore park that sits on the bay near downtown St. Pete.

It looked like rush hour traffic far out in the bay with all of the sailboats. People were also kayaking and wind surfing. It was still warm out so the water was the place to be.

I had a nice walk along the water before heading home for lunch.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

North Shore Park

Far out in the bay, it was rush hour traffic on a Saturday morning. Lots of boat activity on this beautiful morning.

I found another great blue heron/ great egret hybrid at the small beach near downtown St. Pete.

After a quick walk around North Shore park, I was heading back to my car and saw the above flying into the trees in the parking lot.

All of a sudden, the tree was full of nanday parakeets. Even at the end of summer, they were in pairs and flirting. Maybe they are like humans and flirt all year round instead of just nesting season. Although due to the warm weather most of the year here, nesting season could still be going on. This couple was very affectionate.

The next tree over had monk parakeets in them. This one kept chewing on a branch.

Then his mate flew in and they started preening each other.

There were so many parakeets here on this particular morning that the sound was deafening. The wild parakeets in the area have really taken over. They are very comical to watch and are not skittish at all.

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

A beautiful morning out

Bees and berries at Crescent Lake Park.

I found the otter again but this time he was very elusive. I got a quick peek and then he disappeared for good.

This gull should have been over at the beach. Somehow he managed to snag a small fish at the lake.

I was standing under some trees looking for the otter and heard some noise over my head. I looked up and found two juvenile anhingas looking down at me. They must be late babies. There was a tiny nest that they had outgrown but they were still too young to fly yet. Mom was sitting high up in the next tree.

After leaving Crescent Lake Park, I made the quick drive over to North Shore beach near downtown St. Pete. Someone had recently painted the small concrete pier.

Another beautiful day at the bay.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my sister Debbie!

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Our World Tuesday Graphic

Summer storms in the morning.

I realized why there wasn’t any little birds around the firebushes early one Saturday morning at Crescent Lake park. A hawk was keeping watch.

You can usually see monk parakeets hanging around the ball park there.

No birds but plenty of moths.

This dog looked bored when I was taking his picture. He was standing guard while his human was fishing.

Starlings are everywhere.

I got all the way across the lake from my car and it started raining. Luckily I had thrown my tiny umbrella in my backpack so I stood under a tree for a few minutes hoping it stop quickly. It was raining on one side of the park and the sun was on the other side. After 15 minutes I just walked back to my car and was soaked from the waist down.Typical Florida weather. By the time I got to my car the rain had stopped so I decided to head over to the North Shore beach park in nearby downtown St. Pete before heading home.

When I got out of the the car there were a few parakeets eating on the ground in front of me. They were chomping on the ground covering.

Meanwhile, this squirrel had found a piece of pizza in the garbage can, probably left over from last night’s picnic. He seemed pleased with himself.

There were still storms out in the bay so I headed home for lunch.

SkyWatch Friday

On the beach near downtown St. Pete.

I usually only see reddish egrets on the gulf beaches but I found this one at a park on the bay near downtown St. Pete. I was bummed that the sun wasn’t out to show off his pretty colors but he’s still an amazing bird.

An osprey flew right over my head.

Usual things on the beach. Coconuts (although they look like tree boobs to me) and mangrove crabs.

The view from North Shore Park just north of downtown St. Pete on the bay.

I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier on the way home and just missed the greyhound meet up. I would have liked to have gotten pictures of them all together but they were just leaving to go on a walk around Safety Harbor. The dog in the first picture was wondering why he couldn’t go although he looked pretty happy just chilling by the water.

SkyWatch Friday