Rain in the bay

The rain was moving in but I wasn’t ready to go home. I was hoping for either lightning pictures or at least a rainbow. I got neither but it was still fun being out. I headed over to tiny park on the other side of the St. Pete Pier. I could see the heavy rain out in the bay towards Tampa.

A pano of the Pier (on the left) to the small private airport tower (on the right). Typical Florida summer day, rain on the left, blue sky on the right.

Turning around I could see the downtown St. Pete skyline.

One sailboat was heading out for the bay. I hope they dodged that storm coming in. It was suppose to rain all day so I was surprised to see them going out.

Across the yacht basin, I could see the big model airplane. A tribute to the first commercial airline that started here.

SkyWatch Friday

Going somewhere

Getting to the fishing pier at Fort Desoto Park early on a Saturday morning in June, I caught this cargo ship going into port.

It’s always fun standing on the pier watching the ships go back and forth. Wondering what they are carrying and where they are going. Being out at sea for weeks at a time. (Makes me sea sick just thinking about it). I wonder if this Del Monte ship is really carrying Del Monte canned vegetables?

Heading out.

It was beginning to look like rush hour traffic around the pier. Lots of sailboats and fishing boats going by.

The guys on this boat pulled up to the pier and caught some bait fish. I just keep thinking about what Dory said in “Finding Nemo”.  “Just keep swimming.”

The bridge in the middle of the morning with the sun sparkling on the water.

Turning around, another ship goes behind the dog beach as it turns the corner past the park.

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Spring migration is becoming a bust

I was heading down to Fort Desoto in mid-April hoping to see some migrating songbirds as they stop over for a rest before heading north for the summer. It had rained days earlier and the day after the rain had some good fall out but I had to work that day. There might have been some stragglers still hanging out so I was hopeful. On the way into the park I saw some frigatebirds cruising along a pond so I pulled over and shot these as they kept going.

After walking around the usual spots for the birds for several hours, this is what I got. A lone bright yellow house finch was hanging around the bird feeder at the ranger’s house. I usually only see red house finches so the yellow threw me off.

I also found a black and white warbler but those are pretty common here.

I could at least enjoy the view as I was walking around. Not a bad spot to spend the morning out.

All of these dead trees are invasive Australian pine trees so the park killed them off to return the park to it’s natural state. It’s a tough pill to swallow when these trees use to be filled with migrating birds for so many years. I’m not sure if that is why we’ve seen less birds in the park for the last two years.

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A sad story on a beautiful afternoon

It was a beautiful afternoon in late January and I was able to get outside for a little while on a late Friday before sunset. I jumped in the car and headed over to Dunedin, thinking I would stop by the fishing pier and then go over for a quick walk at the causeway. I was snapping the shot of the water when I turned around and noticed the two osprey that had built a nest on top of the building next to the pier.  I was pretty excited to see the camera up on the top but when I got home and searched it, you could only see over the building so the camera wasn’t look down on the nest. Would have been fun to watch that nest up close.

I found this cute little boat in the marina that I hadn’t seen before.

I headed over to the beach area on the causeway and saw the sailboat that has washed up back in November during Hurricane ETA. I had seen many pictures of it posted on the internet, people climbing and playing on it. They had it roped off which didn’t make for a pretty picture. I have since heard that it was hauled away a few weeks after I took this. The state of these old damaged sailboats are sad. At some point years ago, someone paid a lot of money for this boat. Probably used it at first. Then it sits out there for a long time and becomes a hazard. The owner, if they had insurance, probably just collected and moved on. Many people with these old boats let their insurance lapse and the city pays for the haul. Not sure if they can sell them for scrap.

On a sad note, at the end of the causeway, a dead dolphin had washed up on shore hours before I arrived. Everyone was standing around watching the marine life rescue team (with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where Winter the flipperless dolphin resides) get him ready to be taken away. They will do a necropsy on him to find out the cause of death. Was he old? Sick?  Eaten something bad? Hit with a boat? Swallowed too many fish hooks from stealing fish from the fishermen at the pier? So many questions.  Everyone was watching from a respectful distance. It was sad to watch these volunteers do their work.

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Late day walk at the pier.

Another “get out of the house” moment. I headed down to the St. Pete Pier late in the day in early December. I knew it would be crowded but went early enough before the dinner crowd. Standing out on the pier, I could see Tampa across the bay in the bottom shot.

The new cool sculpture on the pier. The first commercial airline started right here back in 1914 with a commercial flight from St. Pete to Tampa with paying customers.

Heading towards the end of the pier.

Looking up at the back of the building on the pier, it looks a little like a space ship.

Looking towards St. Pete, the sun was just starting to go down.

Walking around past the park, I could see a dolphin swimming around by the pier.

Looking out on the bay, the sun had gone down behind me.

As it gets dark, the netting over the grounds before the pier turns pink.  The crowds were starting to come in so I headed home for dinner.

SkyWatch Friday

Out and about one afternoon

I headed out to Fort Desoto late in the afternoon in early November. There wasn’t a lot of birds around later in the day but it was a beautiful afternoon.

Way out in the bay,

The sun was started to get lower at my favorite spot.

I drove over to the gulf pier before leaving.

Looking back at the old smoke stack.

Silhouettes of birds flying near the pier.

The sun still had a ways to go and I had to get home so I quickly snapped the above.

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Davis Islands yacht basin

I hadn’t been over to Davis Islands in a while so I headed over for a walk around the yacht basin at the end of the island. There’s a small dog beach there that has a great view of downtown Tampa. The dogs looked like they were having fun jumping in the water. I wanted to join them but that water was not too pretty right there near the shipping channel.

Two panos of downtown in front of the small private airport on the island.

There are usually a few planes taking off on a Saturday morning but none were leaving this morning in mid-August.

Shots above of the quiet lagoon.

Looking closer, one of the docks at the boat ramp has gone missing. The other one is still there but looks like it’s about to crumble.

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Busy beach in August.

The royal terns were having a feeding frenzy at Fort Desoto in early August. The parents were busy trying to keep the juvenile ones fed.

I found another Harry the hybrid (great blue heron and great egret) at the north beach lagoon. I had heard there were two hybrids at the park but I had only seen one at the fishing pier. This one has more beige and grey than the one at the pier which is more white.

Birds cruising by at the north spit. You can see the boats far off at the tip of the spit already anchoring to party for the day.

Flowers near the parking lot.

Lots of activity going on around the park. It was going to be a busy afternoon.

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A new attraction coming

After leaving Crescent Lake Park, I headed over to the bay to see what the new St. Pete Pier was going to look like. Last time I was in the area, it looked like a shell.  This was before the big opening back in early July. They were still putting the finishing touches on it but it didn’t look like much from across the Vinoy yacht basin.

Above is an old shot of the original pier that I grew up visiting when we came to visit my grandparents. Several functional piers were built in the early 1900’s but the first “attraction” pier was built in 1926. (Pictured below from the St. Pete. Pier History site).  It was demolished in 1967 and the new pyramid pier opened in 1973.  I also found a mural in downtown St. Pete of the pyramid pier painted on the side of a building.

Zooming in, far out in the bay near the pier, there’s always a lot of activities going on in the water and you can see the Tampa electric plant.

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The whale watching trip

This is exactly how I pictured New England. Sailboats and lighthouses. The big eggs are the Deer Island Sewage Treatment plan.

We took a half day whale watching trip one day and it was sunny and warm when we left the Boston harbor. The farther out we went, the worse the weather got. Dark and foggy and then freezing rain.

I saw my first wild northern gannet. They were pretty far out and would fly off when the boat started to get close. One of the bird rescue sanctuaries in the Tampa area has a few of them that were rescued at some point over years off the coast of Florida but I’ve never seen them flying out in the wild. We saw several during the trip.

An hour and 40 minutes later we found some whales. We had traveled over 40 miles since the whales were moving farther away for the winter. Everyone who had been huddling in the warm cabin came out in the freezing drizzle. There were a lot of whales that were close to the boat but none of them breached and came out head first. Most of the ones we saw were Minke and Fin whales. It was a lot of fun and everyone was really excited. My husband was not that impressed. He said they just look like really big dolphins. He’s not wrong but it was still a fun afternoon.

When we got back to the Boston harbor it was sunny and mild again. Since I have a tendency to get seasick, I had a patch on for the boat trip. I’m glad I did because even though it was sunny and calm in the harbor, it was rough out there away from the harbor and many people were getting sick. They passed out ginger candy as we left but I think many people thought they would be fine since it was calm in the harbor.

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