Holiday Travel. And All Its Trials.

Make no mistake, the holiday travel rush has started. At the busy airport on the ocean side, those wanting to land there had to wait for their turn to hit the runways.

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Terns lining up for landing…

Some were put into a holding pattern and had to circle the airport.

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Pelicans in a holding pattern…

Others became a bit desperate and decided to make an emergency descent to a lower altitude. Just in case.

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A Pelican diving…

Luckily everyone attempting to land got their gear down on time. No accidents reported, but there definitely were some close calls.

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A Royal Tern asking for permission to land…
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A Pelican landing…

Some of the departing flights demonstrated excellent on-time performance, some not. But that’s to be expected.

pelican taking off
A Pelican taking off…

Those who had landed were happy to reach their destinations. A few showed signs of exhaustion, particularly those travelling with children.

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A Royal Tern kid complaining to his mom…

But most took it in stride. And a few even took advantage of the showers in the arrival lounge.

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A Sandwich Tern taking a shower…

That’s what holiday travel is at busy airports. But at smaller airports, like the salt marsh, it was much more laid back. One takeoff or landing every now and then.

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A Great Egret taking off…
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An Anhinga just landed…

And even the personnel in the tower could take a nap in between flights. With a half eaten lunch still on the table.

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Papa Osprey taking a nap with full crop…and a fish tail still in his talons…

There was some through traffic though above the salt marsh. And some cargo traffic too.

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A Great Egret passing over salt marsh…
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Another Osprey, probably Stanley, flying over the salt marsh with a fish…

The control tower was certainly alert when needed. Some landing permissions were not granted.

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Papa Osprey scanning the skies…

Particularly for big “birds” like these.  They didn’t have feathered wings.

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A manmade bird flying over the salt marsh…
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…and another one…

All holiday travelers were not going by air, of course. There was some boat traffic too on the lakes in the salt marsh.  Very relaxing cruises, suitable for those who have all the time in the world.

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A Muscovy Duck and a Moorhen cruising in the salt marsh…

May your holiday travels be pleasant and safe. <3 Tiny

Changing Horizons. Literally.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. – Christopher McCandless

Last night was gorgeous, clear skies and calm waters all around us.  The lights from the beach establishments reflected beautifully on the strait between the ocean and the bay at the north end of the nature reserve.

clearwater beach at night
The strait beyond the nature reserve as seen from our terrace

And the bay side did not disappoint either. With the lights from the city dressing up its calm waters, the bay looked somewhat more grown-up and sophisticated than the laid back birds’ paradise I’ve often pictured.

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The bay side at night as seen from our terrace

Approaching home in the cool night after a walk with Bumble, the lighted palm trees brought a warm feel of the approaching holidays.

xmas lights Sand key fl
Lighted palms bring holiday cheer

That was last night. This morning was a different story. We woke up to an eerie landscape.  Only a builder’s crane stuck up from the fog on the beach side of the strait.

crane in the fog
A crane sticks up from the fog

Then, gradually, we could see the tallest buildings, the nature reserve and the ocean emerge from the fog.

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The nature reserve emerges from the fog

I was on my second cup of coffee, when the fog finally drifted on to the ocean like a long snake on the water.

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The “fog snake” swims out to the ocean

As the salt marsh was clearing from the fog, I had to check on Papa Osprey. He was in the nest, perched on his favorite spot enjoying the first rays coming though the fog. But he had no breakfast. I was happy the visibility was rapidly increasing, PO could finally go fishing.

osprey in the morning fog
Papa Osprey (as seen from our terrace) soaks up the first rays when the fog is lifting

I hope you enjoy your fishing today, wherever it might take you. May your horizons be pleasant and your suns bright.

 

Pre-holiday Sing-out. In the Salt Marsh.

It’s been a busy week for many of us.  But for the birds in the salt marsh it’s been a cool and quiet week. Lots of hunching and huddling, rain and winds early in the week, then cool temperatures throughout.

Walking into the salt marsh the other day, however, I was in for a surprise pre-holiday sing-out. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a beautiful song performed flawlessly by a Northern Mockingbird.

A Northern Mockingbird greets with a beautiful song...
A Northern Mockingbird greets with a beautiful song…

Next, I approached Papa Osprey’s nest. Eyes half closed, and looking like an opera singer, Papa was singing his heart out! It was a long and beautiful song. The chorus repeated twice. I wish I understood the lyrics, but I have a suspicion that he was singing for Mama Osprey. “It’s almost Christmas…Darling come home!” Or something similar.

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Papa Osprey sings his heart out!

Nearby, a beautifully dressed Snowy Egret was singing too. The subject of his affection might have been a shy-looking lady on the other side of the water.

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A Snowy Egret sings for…
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…his beautiful date.

Little further out an Ibis was serenading…someone. I’m guessing it was one or all of the girls in a tree nearby.

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An Ibis serenades…
...the girls in the tree.
…the girls in the tree.

Then I heard another Osprey calling. And singing. It proved to be Papa’s friend Steve. Maybe he was calling for Mrs. Steve, whom I haven’t had the pleasure to meet as yet? Or just getting into holiday spirit? I have no idea, but he was certainly participating in the sing-out wholeheartedly.

Osprey Steve  is singing too
Papa’s friend Steve is singing out too…

A slow warming trend has been promised for the weekend and into next week, so the birds have something to look forward to even before the holidays.

I hope your weekend will be warm  – in the home and in the heart. <3 Tiny

 

 

Cold Front. Huddling and Hiding.

I came back home last night to the tune of strong winds and a passing cold front. By this morning, the wind had calmed down a bit and the skies were blue again, but it was cool.  I would say cold, but I don’t want to offend anyone. Anyway, I felt the need to get moving again this afternoon so I went out for a walk to check on my feathered friends.

Two Willets and one pair of feet...
Two Willets and one pair of feet…

The beach was quite stormy. And completely empty, apart from a few Willets. When passing the salt marsh,  I found the birds hunching in the grass or hiding in the trees. Even Papa Osprey and his friend Stanley were not perching upright as they usually do. That’s what a cold front does to you.

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A Blue Heron hunching by the water…
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Two Snowy Egrets and an Ibis huddling together…
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A Black-crowned Night Heron and a juvenile hiding in the bushes…
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A Reddish Egret hunching in some bushes…
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A Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in the tree…
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes...
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes…
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass...
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass…
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Stanley perched on a lamp post next to the park…
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Papa Osprey at his nest…

The birds were clearly feeling the chill. Winter has arrived to Florida. And that means the start of the nesting season for many residents in the salt marsh.

Speaking of nesting, I have to tell you something I discovered later this afternoon. I saw Papa Osprey flying together with another Osprey.  And singing. I took some pictures of them on the run and when I enlarged them, I saw the other Osprey also had a “necklace”. Stanley and Steve don’t have one, but Mama Osprey does. Couldn’t be sure though it was her so I leave it like that. We’ll see soon enough.

I hope your week is going great!

Flop! You Can’t Surprise Papa Osprey.

This morning I approached Papa Osprey’s nest walking silently on the grass behind the nest. A surprise visit. I was wondering how close I could get before he’d discover I was there. I shot the first picture of his tail feathers. And was discovered right away!

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PO discovers Tiny…

In addition to sharp eyes, he has an excellent hearing too. He heard me despite a Blue Jay giving a high-pitched concert in a tree behind me. You know how they sound.

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A Blue Jays serenades in a tree close by…

At the same time Papa was keeping an eye on  a Turkey Vulture circling high overhead. This only confirms my earlier conclusion that he’s a skilled multitasker.

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Look Tiny, that’s a Turkey Vulture!
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And so it is… a Turkey Vulture circles high above the salt marsh…

We talked for a while, as we always do. I told him I’d be away traveling for a few days, and he promised me to continue keeping watch on the skies for Mama Osprey.

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Florida “snow” on the ground…

Then I continued my walk around the salt marsh. In many places the ground was covered by “snow” from the flowering trees. Even the Moorhen was swimming in a light “snowfall”.

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A Moorhen…

Next, I spotted a “long-time-no-see” Reddish Egret in the shallow waters. Initially, he seemed startled to spot me. But soon recovered and continued his search for some brunch items.

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A Reddish Egret discovers Tiny…
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…then continues his search for food.

His relative, the Snowy Egret, was the third one to surprise me. He walked right up from the marsh and did an impressive shake-baby-shake routine on the grass next to me.

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A Snowy Egret appears in the grass…
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…and starts a shake routine
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…that includes a head swinging exercise too.

I decided I’d walk a bit deeper into the park to see if I could find any of Papa Osprey’s friends. I came to the dead palm trunk favored by all three ospreys around here. Nobody at home. Then whoosh! Stanley flew in with a big fish!

Osprey with a fish Clearwater FL
Stanley caught a big fish…

That impressive meal got all his attention. And I decided it was time to go home. Enough surprises for one day. Although quite wonderful ones.

Have a great weekend everyone! <3 Tiny

 

Happy Christmas to You All!

Tiny:

Here’s a Christmas message from Bumble to all friends!

Originally posted on Firdemonte Press:

Hi there! It’s been a while, but it’s nice to see you again. I’m fine, but still recovering from my birthday celebrations on Monday. I’m 14 now – and people still call me a puppy! A cute puppy to be exact. I’ve asked mom not to reveal my real age. Why? Because I might start feeling old. And I can’t risk that.

Anyway, my birthday was great. I got yummy treats! Mango and papaya! I’m a fruit lover now, and that shows. I have much more energy than I used to when I was younger. I run when I take mom out, and I run when we come home. No tired jogging here. I think mom starts looking healthier too.

Bumble Xmas
An illustration from my book

But I have a more serious message too. Thanks to my book, mom and I have been able to give quite a bit to the homeless doggies, cats, turtles, birds, hamsters and…

View original 180 more words

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