I went to Chesnut Park early Saturday morning. It was very quiet and very few animals were around. I walked the entire park in less than 2 hours so I decided to stop by Safety Harbor fishing pier on the way home. I got stopped by the 4th of July parade coming through. I caught the tail end of it before walking over to the pier to look for manatees. Safety Harbor isn’t a small town out in the boonies. It’s really just a small neighborhood wedged in between Tampa and Clearwater. It sits on the water in upper Tampa bay and has a few shops and restaurants. At first I wasn’t going to stop and head home but instead I parked blocks away and I was glad I did. It was a fun way to start the 4th of July while Brett was at the gym.
So far it’s been a mild winter here. I think I’ve worn a coat to work only once. Some days it’s sunny and 60 degrees like it was on this day in early February. It was windy though. I stopped by the fishing pier in Safety Harbor to see what was flying around. Not much flying but I noticed the flowers around the picnic area were still blooming. I guess that’s why I’m still sneezing in the winter here. Things are still blooming.
After leaving the Safety Harbor fishing pier, I headed over to Philippe Park to see what was swimming around the inlet there. First thing I noticed was the red breasted merganser. This is the first one I’ve seen this winter.
She was alone but there were a few horned grebes a little farther out.
The red-eyed devils had arrived for the winter. They were my first horned grebe sighting this season. They were swimming far out in the water.
Last winter they hung around the fishing pier but this winter they seem to be farther north.
From the park, I could see a lone eagle sitting far out in the middle of the bay on top of a utility tower.
Is that a burp? Yawn? Was it calling for its mate?
Later I saw the above fly over the trees away from me. I hope it’s the same eagle as the one on the tower and the mate is off sitting on eggs.
It was a beautiful weekend before the holidays.
A common loon floating around the fishing pier.
The red-eyed horned grebe is back at the fishing pier this winter. There were 4 of them floating around but stayed away from each other and the other 3 were pretty far out.
Common tern fly by.
Pelican going in for a fish.
There’ s always a laughing gull trying to get a freebie from the pelicans.
“I’m outta here.” says the pelican to the gull.
Another sunny morning stop at the Safety Harbor fishing pier. I did not see any manatees this morning but a few dolphins were far out.
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My first common loon of the season. He was floating all alone far off the fishing pier.
I was surprised to see manatees at the fishing pier. Usually this time of year they all head over to the electricity plant to swim in the warm water around the plant. Since the weather here has still been warm, I guess they are hanging around longer. There were at least 6 manatees at the fishing pier.
The trees around the parking lot were full of starlings. They were very loud.
More pelican fun. They have such amazing color on their faces. With that pink and blue around the eyes and bright orange beaks.
He looked happy with his fish part.
This one is a juvenile. Maybe not a year old and hasn’t got his color yet.
Another one enjoying his prize.
Just a few more things I saw at the Safety Harbor fishing pier.
When I first got to the fishing pier I saw the above. I realized that someone was cleaning their fish and throwing the heads and guts to the pelicans.
It was funny to see them all lined up waiting.
Even the laughing gulls got in the act, trying to steal the fish guts.
Here comes another one.
“I got it! I got it.”
These three were at a standoff, or float off anyway. They all had a piece and none would give it up. After a minute they separated but I don’t know who ended up with the prize.
Is it my imagination or are these pelicans prettier than the ones at Fort Desoto? They have more color in their face.
Once you got something you still had no peace. You had to sneak off to enjoy your meal with others close behind.
“Oh no, here comes some more competition.”
I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier for a few minutes and saw a guy cleaning fish. They have cleaning stations on the pier but it was the first time I had ever seen anyone use them. The pelicans were busy fighting for a handout. I watched for a while and then the guy cleaned up and left. It’s a hard knock life for a pelican. Now they have to do their own fishing.
The Tuesday after thunderstorm Debby moved through, I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier on the way home from work. That afternoon was the first sun appearance in several days. The parking lot was closed off so I parked a couple of blocks north and walked down. The lot had been flooded and was still covered in seaweed, sand and grass. The above was a sight you could see everywhere near water. The seaweed had come up when the tide was high and was left behind. The city has been busy cleaning up the roads and parking lots, getting ready for the Republican National Convention this month.