stormy day on the beach

Drama in the Nature Reserve.

One day at the end of July, I witnessed quite a drama in our peaceful nature reserve. A thunder storm approached from the ocean and severe lightning followed, but no rain. Suddenly the lightning hit very close. An explosion I could feel in my feet. Lights flickered and the ground shook. The storm was over in a few minutes, as it usually is, but then I heard emergency vehicles. I went onto the terrace to see what had happened.

fire trucks in Sand Key park
Emergency vehicles in the park
firemen at work in the park
Firemen at work…and the Thriller on its way out on the ocean

I could see fire trucks at the north parking lot, and an ambulance was just leaving.  It seemed to me that the lightning strike had hit the northern end of the park, somewhere close to the beach. Apparently someone had been injured and there was a fire.

lightning stike fire in Sand Key Park Clearwater
The burnt area of the park

After such a drama in our usually tranquil environment, I decided to go out and check on the birds in the salt marsh and see what damage the lightning strike had done. I was happy to learn from the firemen that the injured beachgoer was going to be fine. And to find that the bush fire had been put out very quickly. It had only burned a very small area of grass and damaged two palm trees. It had spared this huge old tree nearby!

giant  tree sand key park
The trunk of the huge old tree
The essence of summer Sand Key Clearwater
Activities resumed…

People were back to their normal activities of beach fun and fishing. And the birds were too. In the salt marsh, on my way back, I spotted a rare visitor, a wood stork.

wood stork in nature reserve 724
Mr. Wood Stork in the salt marsh

The Great White Egret was enjoying peaceful fishing too.

Egret in the nature reserve Sand Key Clearwater
The beautiful Great White Egret

And the duck family was already on the move.

And everyone is accounted for...
And everyone is accounted for…

The drama was over. Life had returned to normal. And that’s how we prefer it.

Have a wonderful, peaceful weekend, everyone!

papa osprey b 728

Papa Osprey. The Maintenance Man.

My  regular readers know that Papa Osprey is a good man. Last January-February he made numerous trips to Home Depot fetching materials for nest renovation. Then tirelessly brought home fish after fish on a daily basis to feed Mama Osprey and the nestling. After the young one fledged, he sent Mama Osprey on a well deserved vacation. He cared for the youngster one more month, until she was completely independent and knew how to fish for herself. Remarkable achievements.

Papa osprey from Sand Key, Clearwater, FL
Papa Osprey on his favorite palm trunk

After he moved out of the nest and left it for the youngster to enjoy, I didn’t see him for about a month. Maybe he needed to recuperate and went on a cruise in the Caribbean? Or had some fun in Key West? Mid July I discovered he was back in his “township”. Since then he’s been hanging around. I’ve spotted him perched on the top of a dead palm trunk on the eastern edge of the park. Or on one of the street lights next to the bay. And even on Marriot’s roof. He’s looking after his territory. Managing his assets.

my bench 712
This bench has my name written on it…

But that’s not all. Yesterday, when I got out for a run, I was looking forward to greeting him again. I jogged north along the edge of the park and passed “his” palm tree. Not there. Then I checked the lamp posts where I’ve spotted him previously. Even took a swing around the Sailing Club grounds, but he was nowhere to be seen. A bit disappointed I turned around and headed into the nature reserve. I needed a short break to drink some water. And to dig out my camera. Just in case something interesting would happen around the salt marsh. So I sat down on my usual bench under the trees. I had some water. Then I looked up.

papa osprey visiting the nest 812 clearwater, FL
Surprise, surprise! Papa Osprey is at “home”…

Papa Osprey was perched right where he always used to be, on the edge of his nest! And he was looking at me. Approvingly, I thought. Like saying nice to see you’re exercising in this heat. So we enjoyed each other’s company quietly for a good while. He even allowed me to walk right under the nest without saying a peep.

papa osprey at the nest 0812 Clearwater, FL
Check the underside of the nest, fairly heavy stuff…

That was a nod of trust right there! He was in no hurry to leave, but I had to get back home and back to work. So I continued my run through the park and the beach. When I finally came home, I took my birding binoculars and went straight onto the terrace. To check if he was still there. Can you guess what I saw?

papa osprey lifting sticks
Papa Osprey inspecting the nest and finding it in need of repair…
maintenance papa osprey
And this needs to go here…

Papa Osprey was doing maintenance work on the nest! Busy moving big sticks and twigs, then securing them better. Structural adjustments. I was too tired to set up my tripod so the quality is grainy from camera shake, but you can see him demonstrating great maintenance skills. He couldn’t allow the nest to fall apart. It would be their home again come January.  He undertook maintenance work in the summer heat. Needless to say I was impressed.

papa osprey saying hi 813 clearwater, FL
Hi Tiny, you want a picture?

I saw him again on today’s run, perched on a lamp post next to the bay. He posed nicely for about a minute, as if waiting for me to take the picture. Then he flew up and soared high above the bay.

papa osprey in flight 813d
Papa Osprey soaring over the bay…

I felt like soaring too. Little lighter on my foot. That’s what a “medicine bird” (in Nez Perce tribe’s mythology) does to you.

half supermoon by Tiny

The Chase for the Supermoon. From a Dog’s Perspective.

Hi friends! This is Bumble again. I posted this story from last weekend on my blog earlier today, but since mom doesn’t feel like writing today, I generously promised to post it here too. Mom is a bit sad. Muted. She said she’s lost an actor, who always made her laugh. I love it when she laughs. Who’s gonna make her laugh now? I hope this will cheer her up at least a little bit. So here we go.

“It all started in July. Mom told me she’d been bitten by a bug.  A photo bug, to be exact. I’m sure the bug was hanging around the birds she always shoots in the nature reserve. Anyway, she ordered a new camera. I was wondering why she was wasting money when the old one still was in one piece. It wasn’t broken. She said she wanted to get closer to everything she shoots. That sounded less than safe. Think if she wanted to take pictures of a snake! Or a lion when she travels to Africa! How dangerous is that?

tripod Dolica
The tripod…

So the new camera arrived. But mom still wasn’t happy. She ordered a tripod. I had no idea what that was. Anyway, when the package arrived, I saw it was very small. About my size. But then mom shook its legs and it became very tall, almost her size. Exactly like the other three-legged tower I’ve seen in the walking closet on my house inspection tours. Why did she need another one? She said the first one was dad’s and too heavy for her to carry! How can that be?  She can carry a 15 pound dog! Sometimes mom doesn’t make sense to me.

The empty osprey nest in July…as seen from our terrace.

Soon I saw mom put her camera on the top of the new tower and spend lots of time on the terrace. She said she was trying it out to get good pictures of the supermoon in August. But she took pictures of the osprey nest in the nature reserve! She showed me the “close-up” of the nest, but that also didn’t make any sense to me. The nest was empty! She knew that the baby bird had grown up long ago and the whole family had moved away for now. I couldn’t figure it out, but if she’s happy, I’m happy.

bumble walking mom
I’m walking mom…

Fast forward to last weekend. On Friday we went for our last walk for the day around 9 p.m. Mom took a picture of me with her iPhone. You can see it was dark. She was looking up and looking up. I was getting worried she might step into something undesirable. She said the moon was behind too many clouds. And that she was afraid she couldn’t get any pictures of the moon this weekend. I couldn’t help but wonder if she had bought the wrong camera. A good one should be able to see the moon anyway, right?

Then, on Saturday night we came out just after 9 p.m. But we didn’t go for a walk! As soon as I had done my first item of business, just around the corner of our garage, mom wanted to go in again. The moon was visible every now and then between the clouds, and mom wanted to get her camera! So out we came again with the tall tower in tow. And the camera clued on the top. I did my second item of business. Then we walked on the grass and mom planted the “thing” there. I had to sit next to it.

largest supermoon monocrome Aug 2014 by AHK
Supermoon as seen from our yard in Florida…

Then mom started shooting. The camera lens was pointed all the way up to the clouds. And the moon, when it made a few  short appearances. I saw the moon too, but to me it looked just like it always does. A bright ball in the sky. Nothing super about it. But it was super hot and I started to get sweaty!  Finally mom said we needed to move a little bit so she could get the moon from between the trees. Now I started panting. We had just parked under the trees where I used to chase squirrels, when it started raining. Phew! Mom grabbed the tower under one arm and me under the other and in she ran! We made it into the garage just when the huge drops hit the ground.

largest supermoon Aug 2014 by AHK
Supermoon Aug 9, 2014 by Tiny

Luckily it was cloudy on Sunday. I got my evening walk again. Everything was back to normal. I hope it’ll be long before mom wants to chase the supermoon again.

Keep well now. Love, Bumble”

 

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