Birthday Birds and Engine Roar.

Last Sunday was my birthday. Not that I need to be reminded of the years piling up, but it was a great day. A balanced affair of spectacle and peace. The spectacle was provided by the annual Clearwater Speed Boat Race, and the peace by the birds … and other good friends and family.

After a night of torrential rains, the morning was beautiful.

Willet shore bird
A little Willet patrolling the beach…
rock pigeon
A Rock Pigeon, a rare sight on the beach…
royal tern flying
A Royal Tern returning from a swing on the ocean…

I took a long walk on the beach, where the birds were getting breakfast and people of all ages were preparing to watch the boating event of the year.

little boy on the beach
A little boy exploring the beach…

Some were more interested in other explorations, of course.

treasure hunter
A treasure hunter…

On the ocean, thousands of boats were lining up along the 2.5 miles long race track. And helicopters were circling overhead. Quite a spectacle!

speed boat race an overview
Boats lining up along the race route where boats are already practicing…

I decided to seek my peace in the nature reserve. On my way there I saw something remarkable. Papa Osprey was flying in after a swim in the ocean. When he approached the nest, he shook himself in mid-air, almost like a dog would do, to get rid of excess water. I had read that ospreys do this, but never seen it before.  Unfortunately my camera was in its bag as I tried to negotiate a path to the park that wouldn’t require a swim suit.

wet papa osprey
Wet Papa Osprey saying birthday greetings…

When I reached the nest, Papa Osprey was there. All spread out under the natural hair dryer. He was still wet and held his wings up to dry his underpants. He gave me a friendly birthday nod, but it’s difficult to say if he smiled.

great egret
A Great Egret…

I also spotted a Great Egret perched on a tree near the osprey nest. After posing politely for a photo, she flew away over the water.

great egret flying
…flying away.

It was getting hot and the Great Blue Heron, whom I’ve named the Mayor of the Marsh,  was seeking shade hunched down in the bushes.

great blue heron enjoying shadow
The Mayor, Mr. Blue Heron…

I stayed in the park for a while receiving calls from family abroad, and snapped another picture of him little later.

great blue heron 2 920
…all tall and handsome.

Herons were out in force that morning. I saw a Yellow Crowned Night Heron and a Green Heron too. While the latter is most often perched on a tree looking like he’s dreaming of some faraway place, now he was hunting and all stretched out.

yellow crowned night heron closeup 2
A Yellow Crowned Night Heron…
green heron 2
A Green Heron hunting…

And what would a birthday be without a Tri-colored Heron showing off his beautiful colors. This time I saw him hunting, diving right into the water.

tricolored heron diving
A Tri-colored Heron diving…
tricolored heron after a dive
…and then shaking off the water.

And then shaking his feathers. The gracious little bird was all buffed up.

So after getting my peace in the morning, I came home and we watched the speed boat race from our terrace. Luckily they raced at some distance. No water spray on our lunch, but the engine roar was clearly audible. I’ll put a few pictures here for the boat enthusiasts in the readership.

speed boat 4 3
A speed boat and spectators in thousands of boats…
speed boat 8
A racing speed boat…
speed boat 6
Another racing speed boat…
speed boat and spactators
A speed boat almost flying on water…spectators on Pier 60

The rest of the day was lots of fun, culminating in a sumptuous seafood dinner with friends and family. Bang Bang Shrimp, Rainbow Trout, and chocolate… I could do it again. Any day.

I will probably be posting/reading a little less than usual in October as I’ve a few travels planned before NaNoWriMo hits in November. I hope your week is going well.

Chasing Ancient Birds. In My Dreams.

There I was, walking around at the pyramids in Giza in ancient Egypt. A few thousand years ago. With my latest Canon. It was hot and hazy, but the heat didn’t bother me. I felt happy and light on my foot, smiled at everyone I met. They were mostly traders returning to Cairo with caravans of fully loaded camels. I was over the moon because I had managed to snap a picture of a Sacred Ibis.

sacred ibis artwork
Sacred Ibis, my artwork based on a stock image.

That bird was Thoth’s favorite. And Thoth represented many things important to me: knowledge, writing and justice. Even a little bit of magic. I had never seen him in person, of course, but he was pictured everywhere with a head of an Ibis.

Thoth
Thoth, pictured on a wall in Cairo.

The Sacred Ibis was also the first letter in the hieroglyphic alphabet. An important symbol of writing and preserving the stories for the afterlife.

Egyptian papyrus art
Art work on papyrus.

After getting my all important shot, I went to see the scribes and artists in the nearby village. Some of them had simple workshops, but many were writing, drawing and painting on their papyrus rolls right in the open.

Egyptian papyrus art
Art work on papyrus.

Their art was nothing short of amazing. I tried to buy a few art works but somehow my paper money didn’t do the trick. So a few of them took pity on an art-hungry stranger and gave me samples of their work for free. I was grateful for their kind gesture.

papyrus art
Art work on papyrus.

After receiving the rolls, I said my goodbyes and walked back to the pyramids. I asked one of the guards to take a picture of me.  For my blog, I told him. To my surprise he didn’t even ask me how to use the camera, just snapped the picture and smiled. He was more interested in my camera bag of soft leather, and asked who’d made it. I said I didn’t know, but that it was probably made in China. He thought it was funny and burst out laughing. He couldn’t fathom that there was no art work on it.

at the pyramids
Tiny at the pyramids in Giza.

Soon after my picture was taken the wind started blowing. A sand storm was approaching. Still remembering the previous storm, I didn’t want to get another sand corn in my eye. So I  decided to return to Mena House, my accommodations for the night.

Giza pyramid from Mena House L

Suddenly I woke up. The sun was shining in my face. I wanted to go for breakfast in my favorite spot, out in the gardens facing one of the pyramids. But found myself back in my bed in Florida. My hubby was already up, Bumble was still snoring lightly next to me. It took me a while to wake up to my current realities of a new week in the 21st century. And I couldn’t help but wonder where this pleasant dream had come from. My hubby of course has a theory.

I hope your week has started well.

 

Flooding in Paradise. Birds’ delight.

Yesterday was a magnificent day. Wednesday’s rain event of the year was over. The sky was blue again, and everyone in the nature was happily active. And I mean just about everyone.

birds in flood water mass shower
Public bath…in the brand new rainwater lake.

I went for a long walk on the flooded beach, where the gulls and the terns where taking a collective bath in the brand new rainwater lake. It was like a crowded salon spa. A place for everyone to be.

two pelicand flying be
Tandem flying by pelicans.

The pelicans were back on the beach too, practicing tandem flying and synchronized diving.

two pelicans double dive 3
A dive well synchronized…

But I also witnessed them trying to catch the same fish. Not a recommended practice. Like in any competition, only one can win. Or perhaps the fish wins.

two pelicans dive for same fish
Diving for the same fish?

That’s exactly what happened. The fish was spared this time around. One of the pelicans was back up on his wings immediately, but the other one appeared a bit dazed for a while.

pelicans landing
What just happened?

I was curious to see what the torrential rains had done in the nature reserve and found a path to the park that didn’t require a kayak.

salt marsh after rains
West end of the salt marsh…and formerly dry grassy patches now underwater…

I immediately saw that the water level in the salt marsh was up by several inches.

salt marsh after rain flood
East end of the salt marsh…fish swimming in the previously very shallow water…and my usual photo spot is underwater too.

Some of the small “islands” were completely or partially underwater, and fish were happily swimming in areas that were very shallow or dry earlier this week. Including my low-lying photo spots 🙂

great white egret and small blue heron
Great White Egret and a Little Blue Heron surveying the landscape…

It was lovely to see how the birds enjoyed the revitalized environment. They were out and about in big numbers!

green heron 2 918
A Green heron…not in hiding today…

Mister Green Heron, whom I hadn’t spotted for quite a while was enjoying the great views. He was in such a good mood that he even posed for a portrait.

green heron portrait 2
A Green Heron sitting for a portrait…

He shared the tree with a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron, who was perfectly camouflaged between the branches.

another juvenile yellow crowned night heron 2
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron well camouflaged…

A little later I spotted her cousin, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, at the other end of the marsh.

juvenile yelloe crowned night heron
A juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron not so well camouflaged …

Papa Osprey was there too, at his nest like I’ve seen him every single day from my terrace, keeping an eye on the skies.

papa osprey watching the skies 2
Surveillance underway by Papa Osprey…
papa osprey in the nest 918
What’s going on down there?

And the ground, where Tiny was waving to him, and where a Muscovy Duck and a Tricolored Heron were looking for food in the new shallows.

tricolored heron and muscovy duck
A Tricolored Heron and a Muscovy Duck looking for lunch…

After spending more than an hour with the birds, I decided to go home through the beach, taking a shortcut at the tree line. There was a small strip of sand free of water and I managed to walk dry-footed to the side of our garden, which is elevated several feet higher.

beach flooded after the rains
A new and temporary lake on the beach…

But there I was trapped by a new  four-foot wide “river” and my shortcut became a longish detour instead.

It was great to see such joy and activity among the birds. I truly enjoyed my long walk. I hope you did too. Have a wonderful weekend ❤ Tiny

 

Parenting 101. Teens. Frame by Frame.

royal tern mom and teen g
Mom, that guy asked me out tonight! I’m planning on going. Umm…just wanted to let you know.
royal tern mom and teen f
Not that you asked, but it’s a no. He’s too much older than you. Already has his flying license…
royal tern mom and teen d
Can’t we have a civilized discussion at least…Mom?
royal tern mom and teen c
Look at him! He’s so cool…
royal tern ventilating b
…and I love how he looks at me…
royal tern mom and teen h
Mom! Listen to me! It’s not like I’m asking. I’m going!
royal tern mom dad and teen
No, go chill out with your friends. Oh, there’s your Dad… No, Mom, please don’t tell him! He’s so protective of me anyway…okay, I’m not going, not tonight.