Skirting by

How do you get a big beached sailboat back out into the water?  Very carefully with a big truck. For many people in the Tampa bay area, we were really lucky when Hurricane ETA skirted by us last week. It was a little nerve racking on Wednesday night as Brett and I were trying to go to bed and 70 mile winds were blasting through our channels. There wasn’t a lot of wind damage to the area but a lot of flooding. We kept getting up and peeking out the window to see how far the water had gotten into our yard. High tide was around midnight and by 10:30 we had water over our seawall and a few feet into our yard. We had some minor damage to our dock but many people had flooding in their homes. Even people who didn’t live near the water had flooding in their streets and ended up with flooded homes.

The news was saying there were sailboats beached in the small town of Gulfport in south St. Petersburg. I was out running around on Saturday morning and stopped by. I had heard there were 12 boats beached but by Saturday there was only 6 left on the beach. They were craning one of the boats to put back in the water. That’s a big task.

It looks like there is just minor damage to these boats. Mostly lots of dings but I’m sure that expensive. Some of these boats had people living on them so they have been displaced until the boats can be fixed.  Gulfport doesn’t sit directly on the gulf. It’s a small bay off the intercoastal waterway and many boats stay anchored in this area.

Otherwise, it was a beautiful morning and you would never know a bad storm came through 2 days earlier if it wasn’t for the sailboats sitting on the beach. I could see the pink hotel across the bay (Don Cesar Hotel) that sits on the beach.

The Christmas tree was up in front of the beach. I’m assuming someone put this here the day before since there wouldn’t be any balls here after that storm. The restaurants in front of the beach were opening up for breakfast. They had spent the last 2 days cleaning up the sand off the floors.

SkyWatch Friday

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

No rain or sunset on Honeymoon Island.

Late on a Saturday night, Brett and I were heading to Honeymoon Island for a party at the end of June. Seeing the clouds on the way in, we were expecting rain.

The rain was far off in the gulf and stayed out there the entire night.

Crazy grackles hanging out at the pavilion we were at.

The sun peaked out right before it went down creating an orange glow.

A few more clouds rolled in right before dark but the rain held off all night.

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Typical Florida weather

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I took a walk on the walking bridge across Tampa Bay recently on a Sunday night. I was traveling light and only took my phone so all of these are phone shots.

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Occasionally you see some critters swimming by. I think this is a cow nose sting ray. They are pretty common in the bay.

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A storm was moving into downtown Tampa but behind me the sun was still out.

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A brief glimpse of the sun before the clouds moved in.

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Then it got bad so I snapped the above and headed back to my car right before it started pouring. This was pretty far away and the picture is cropped up. I would not want to be out on that bridge if the lightning was any closer.

SkyWatch Friday

Around the neighborhood

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Ducks at the neighborhood pond. I haven’s seen a creme colored one around here before.

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Another morning of having to wait for ducks to cross the road on the way to work.

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My neighborhood osprey finally came back. He’s been gone since March. I’m assuming he’s been off nesting and raising babies. He usually comes back in early July but this year it was late August. Now he sleeps on my neighbor’s sailboat mast and eats his meals on my neighbors dock.

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Stormy night through the kitchen window.

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View from the backyard. After the storm, the sun peaked out right before it went down.

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Close by where I live, a phone pano of a storm coming in.

A few things around the neighborhood in early September.

 Skywatch Friday

The sunset and the storm

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We met family for dinner in Dunedin, a sleepy little town in the Tampa Bay area on the water. It poured the entire time we were eating. Right before dessert, it stopped raining and the sun started to peak out. We decided to walk off the dinner with a short walk down to the marina. Looking across the water at Clearwater Beach, the sun started to go down. We stayed for a few minutes and then headed back to the car since another nasty storm was heading that way. It was a perfect dinner and sunset. I even snuck in a selfie. All of the above were taken with my Iphone 5.

Skywatch Friday

Take an Iphone tour of Fort Desoto

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A view of the gulf fishing pier from behind the snack shop.

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A big boat coming around the corner near the fishing pier. This is the main channel where all of the boats come in heading to the port of Tampa.

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A great blue heron watching the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as a storm moves in.

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Turtle nests were roped off all over the park.

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Looking out at the north beach marsh.

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Pano of the northern tip of the beach.

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A storm was moving in across the north beach.

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Standing on the bay pier, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is partially hidden by the storm.

It was nice being at Fort Desoto park before the storm came. The threat of rain had kept most people away. There were a few people out fishing on the pier but the beach was almost empty. Not many birds either. So I walked around the pier for a while and enjoyed the quiet.

Skywatch Friday

Storms coming to Fort Desoto – Skywatch Friday

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Up at the north beach lagoon, he was trying to get bait fish.

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With no success in the lagoon, he went over to the gulf. I never did see him catch anything. I don’t know if his form is bad or not.

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Sea oats into the sun.

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Trying to nap before the tourists hit the beach.

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A manatee was swimming by the fishing pier.

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Skimmers were still grabbing the bait fish in the water.

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Jim was walking around the snack shop to try to get a better angle on the storm coming in.

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Clouds were moving in. At least the wind was cooling things off.

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Storm across the water.

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Up in the sky.

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Looking back from the end of the fishing pier. The storm was coming in from the right.

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The tide was low and the threat of rain kept the beach empty (well, almost empty).

My morning in late August started out sunny. The two days before were stormy so I thought I would have been rained out. I headed out anyway thinking I could work on my storm shots if it rained. The clouds started rolling in right before lunch. The beach cleared out after a few sprinkles hit. It only sprinkled for a few minutes at first so I continued to walk around. I could see the heavy rain heading right for the pier so I headed back to my car just before the bottom fell out. Not many birds out but also not a lot of people so it was just nice to be out for the morning.

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Safety Harbor lightning – Skywatch Friday

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I stopped by the Safety Harbor fishing pier on the way home recently and was kind of bummed the weather looked so bad. This was taken with my phone. I was thinking about jumping back in the car and going home but I thought I’d walk around the area for a few minutes.

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The only bird I found there, other than a few laughing gulls flying over head.

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The exposed sand along the seawall was covered in fiddler crabs. They are very skittish and kept running back in their little sand holes. I finally was able to get a few outside.

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They are very tiny, this is extremely cropped.

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Even with the threat of rain, there were a few people on the pier. Manatees were swimming close by but the water was too dark to get any pictures.

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I realized it was raining north of the pier and lightning was popping up.

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I only had my 70mm – 200mm lens with me and these were handheld.

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There was a lady on the pier as well who was taking pictures and she had a lightning trigger on the top of her camera that automatically shot pictures when it detected lightning. I had not heard of that accessory but it might be a cool one to look into. That would mean I would have to spend more time standing around waiting for storms. On the weekends,whenever I hear thunder starting I think “I should pack up and go to the airport parking deck to try to get lightning pictures.” It’s hard to get out and do that. I’m usually getting dinner ready or doing chores. Maybe a new toy would motivate me. Anyone have any experience using one?

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