Looking for manatees

When my sisters were here over Thanksgiving weekend we went out looking for manatees. The most dependable place to find them is at the Manatee Viewing Center at the Tampa electric plant on the other side of the bay. The manatees congregate here in the winter months due to the electric plant’s discharge canal where the water that cools the electric plant is sent back out into the bay warm and clean. I’ve been there before over the years when you could see hundreds of manatees near the boardwalk but this time there were none. You could see a few far out in the canal but they just looked like bumps floating in the water. We would have been crushed if we hadn’t seen the below the day before.

Another reliable place to see manatees (and much closer to my home) is the Safety Harbor fishing pier. We were out running around one afternoon and stopped by on the way home. We counted at least 6 swimming around the pier so we hung out there for a while watching them come up for air.

Linking to My Corner of the World.

Indoor faces in the middle of August

It was too hot to be outside in the middle of August so I headed indoors to the Florida Aquarium. It was nice to walk around and take pictures in air conditioning. I cheated and took all of these in Auto program mode (with no flash) since the Aquarium was going to be way to crowded to be using a tripod. Even 10 minutes after the doors opened, kids were running into me. It was still a fun morning and I walked around for about 2 hours.

You can barely make out my reflection in the above. Even without using flash, there’s a slight light that shines for a second while focusing. Trying to use regular flash against this thick glass is crazy. You’re only going to get a big white light across your pictures. You also have to watch for shadows and reflections on the glass which is apparent in the above. I was able to keep other people’s reflections out of most of the pictures.

Linking to http://myworldthrumycameralens.blogspot.com/

A walk on the fishing pier

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The snowy egrets are always putting on a show at the fishing pier. They are hanging around waiting for the fishermen to turn their backs on their bait buckets so they can steal the little minnows. Sometimes the fisherman will clean their fish on the pier and the egrets try to steal the scraps. There are signs saying not to throw the scraps in the water or to the birds but some people still do it. Then the ones that don’t are annoyed by the birds being aggressive.

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A sting ray cruises by the pier in the shallow water.

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Dolphins feeding around the pier.

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Looks like he caught a little shark.

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It was a beautiful morning to watch the big boats from the pier at Fort Desoto.

Skywatch Friday

Under the fishing pier

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Manatee snout coming up for air.

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Stingray in the shallow water.

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I think he was eating the dead fish parts that the fishermen had thrown over the pier.

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Blowing his nose.

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Do you think he needs a kleenex?

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The water was clear enough that you could see what was floating on the bottom. I’m surprised the pelicans didn’t get this stuff when it got thrown over.

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Lots of stingrays around the pier.

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Pretty pelican floating around.

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Taken with my phone camera, this guy swam right up to the pier.

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Even more were swimming towards the pier.

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Pano taken with my phone camera. This is the view from the pier.

It was a busy morning in early December at the Safety Harbor fishing pier. Lots of people out fishing and I counted 8 manatees floating around near the pier. I think that’s a record. The water was clear, the sun was out. Perfect day for a walk.

Fort Desoto on a sunny weekend in January

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Common tern, I think. It’s a forster’s tern (Big thanks to Seagull Steve for ID). His beak is in between summer and winter color and I think that’s what confused me. Forsters are fairly rare in my neighborhood so this is even better.

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A few willets trying to sleep.

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How do they sleep balancing on one leg? You would think they would sit down on the sand.  They try to sleep right on the shoreline and there’s always people walking up and down disturbing them.

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Long billed curlew with a crab. I haven’t seen him in a long time. He was behind the sanctuary ropes so this is highly cropped.

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Another trip to Fort Desoto to check on Mom owl. The photogs call her Winky since she always has one eye half closed.

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Trying to catch the big stingray swimming around the pier. It was pretty close to shore. That’s why they tell you to do the “stingray shuffle”. So the stingrays will scoot away when you shuffle your feet in the water. They don’t stick around when there is movement in the water. After seeing two grown men turn blue and tear up from the pain of being stabbed by one, I really do the shuffle when I’m walking in the water.

Mid January and it was beautiful and sunny outside. Can’t beat living in Florida in the winter. Although, I think I had a lightweight jacket on that morning. It’s nice to wear a long sleeve tshirt every once in a while.  Just a few things I saw on my morning walk around Fort Desoto.

Check out more pictures at Our World Tuesday  Our World Tuesday Graphic

Also, check out more birds at Paying Ready Attention  for

Yes, there are fish there too.

Big bug eyes staring at me.

Beautiful yellow

Everyone was trying to get a picture of this fish.

This school was swimming together in the shark and big stingray tank.

I thought it was cool the way they parted when a stingray came through.

A stingray has two faces. One on top and one on bottom. Although, these are really just his gills. When he breathes, water comes out of the holes. It looks like a big smiley face.

I think these are the most favorite animal at the aquarium. They are so cute. This one was chewing on his tail.

Then he was like “Oh wait, get a good picture of me.” and posed a few seconds before diving in the water.

More fun at the Florida Aquarium on my rainy day trip.

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