Water. Everywhere. And an Oversized Wading Bird at the Salt Marsh.

There is so much water everywhere.  But I promise you’ll not get soaked if you join me for a quick inspection of the lay of the land water at the salt marsh. And you can wear nice shoes too. Or like me, no shoes at all.

storm over the bay UD18

On Sunday afternoon we got a small break from the relentless storms that have stayed with us for the last couple of weeks. The sun even peeked through the clouds occasionally. A good time to get in some exercise, both for the past and the coming week. All in one walk.

flooding on the beach sand key clearwater Florida

I waded ankle-deep, at times almost knee-deep, through the new rainwater “lake” that had formed on the beach. And walked right into a lively shorebird conference at the beach side of the “lake”. Hundreds of participants.

birds on sand key clearwater Florida

Some were bathing, others had passionate conversations, and a few just enjoyed the brief spell of sunshine. Like the Black Skimmer who’d fallen asleep on the beach. His pal flew in to check on him. Calling loudly for him to wake up already.

black skimmer sand key clearwater Florida

black skimmer sleeping on the beach sand key clearwater Florida

He woke up eventually, and they joined the others at the “lake”.  A baby Black Skimmer, the first I’ve ever seen, was wading tummy deep in the water while his sleep deprived mother was nodding off nearby. But there wasn’t much to skim, yet, for anyone. Just plenty of fresh water.

juvenile black skimmer sand key clearwater florida mama black skimmer sleeping sand key clearwater Florida

From there I walked through a flooded path towards the salt marsh to check on the residents. I felt like an oversized wading bird, but without the ability to fly over the puddles.

Once at the marsh, I found the water level was much higher than I’d ever seen. Many small islets and all my favorite photo spots were now under water.

salt marsh under water sand key clearwater Floridamy photo spot under water sand key clearwater Florida

Only a few birds were out and about. The young Great Blue Heron was trying to peek over the tall grass, and a Tri-colored Heron was out fishing. Successfully.

young blue heron after the storm sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron hunting sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron hunting sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron hunting sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron shakes off UD18I also spotted a small heron hiding in the partly submerged grass. My first thought was American Bittern, but after checking all my pictures of him, I now believe he was a juvenile Green Heron.

juvenile green heron sand key clearwater Florida

Some birds didn’t trust the weather man. They had stayed in their rain-shelters close to the Osprey nest. Like this Snowy Egret and the juvenile Night Heron with baby hairs.

snowy egret on a stormy day sand key clearwater Florida juvenile night heron sand key clearwater Florida snowy egret takes shelter in the storm sand key clearwater Florida

No sign of Mama or Papa Osprey. With all the lightning we’ve had, I wanted to see for myself they were okay. I decided to stretch my luck and go searching for them. Ignoring the fact that the next storm was already brewing in the skies. I walked towards Papa Stanley’s resort, and the minute I could see it, he flew in from the bay side.

male osprey sand key clearwater Florida

He was soaking wet, but had no fish. I was happy to see him safe and sound. And sure he’d catch a fish on his next dive.

papa osprey sand key clearwater Florida

As soon as Stanley had settled down, he turned his head and stared back towards the bay. That’s when I heard Mama Sandy. She was singing “I caught a fish, fish, fish”. I stepped back to the road side, and saw Sandy had landed on a lamp-post nearby. With a good-sized fish. They had been fishing together on the bay, but only Sandy had been lucky. I’ve long considered her a somewhat better fisher(wo)man than Stanley. Stanley is very good, but she’s master class.

female osprey with a fish sand key clearwater Florida

Sandy started eating her fish, and I wondered whether she would share some with Stanley. It was highly unlikely. And he didn’t ask for any either. In the Osprey world everyone fishes for themselves. Papa brings fish to Mama only when proposing to her, and when she’s incubating and raising small chicks. And both parents can bring fish to the chicks until they’re ready to start their independent lives.

osprey with a fish sand key clearwater FloridaIt was great to see both of them. I had to hurry home as it started raining gain. A few big drops at first, then buckets. And that pattern has continued. There’s no risk the salt marsh, or its stories, will dry up any time soon. Although it’s finally been sunny today. The first thunderstorm appeared only at dinner time.

Thanks for coming along. Have a great rest of the week.

72 thoughts on “Water. Everywhere. And an Oversized Wading Bird at the Salt Marsh.”

  1. I enjoy somewhat damp and bedraggled stories from the marsh Tiny! When the environment is tough I guess we all hunker down with what’s most important in that moment.
    Thanks for this insight into life in the damp! xo

    1. Thanks Val! We got almost no rain during the first part of the summer, but in the least two weeks we’ve gotten more than during tropical storm Debby in 2012. And the stormy pattern is supposed to continue until mid next week. We’re all fine here, including the birds, but I feel for people who live close to rivers and creeks, many have been flooded out of their homes. The west coast of the sunshine state needs some sunshine now 🙂

    1. We’re fine! I have tried to do repairs on the hard disk through many diagnostic tools and it’s gotten little better, hasn’t frozen in the last three days and now only fails two tests 🙂 So I’m waiting with replacing it, it’s such a big undertaking…everything with email/internet works fine. Hugs!

  2. I am astonished at the amount of rain you have gotten, Tiny! OMG! I have been so wrapped up in saving Molly I have been so out of things, and when I saw your post, I was shocked. I hope for everyone’s sake the rain stops so that the waters can recede a bit. A new lake? Unbelievable!!! Please stay safe yourself!!! Love, Amy ❤

    1. Thanks Amy! Despite the flooding on the beach and in the park, we in our area are doing fine. But people living close to rivers and creeks are not doing good, many have been flooded out of their homes or are about to. It’s the “rainy season” here but I don’t remember seeing so many storms and so much rain, ever. I’m hoping for sun…but the changes for drying up are better only after mid next week. I’m so happy Molly is doing better!! ❤ Much love, Tiny

    1. Thank you Hien! I thought the baby Black Skimmer was beautiful. I had never seen one before either, but there was no mistaking whose baby she was 🙂

  3. Beautiful captures Tiny! Love the Black Skimmer, a most unusual looking bird. Your Osprey family certainly look worse for wear after the storm. Is the Snowy egret in breeding plumage?

    1. Thank you! The Black Skimmer is an unusual looking bird with the lower bill being longer than the upper one. And they really speed when they fly 🙂 The Ospreys take lots of beating now as they have to fish in the rain and wind, but they seem to manage it well. Yes, that Snowy Egret seems to be in breeding plumage, but I’ve also seen many that are not right now.

  4. You seem to be having quite a bit more rain than we are. Glad you were able to get out and about for awhile. We’re spoiled. We’d really miss your stories and photos. 😉

    1. It seems our region here in central west FL has gotten the most rain. Every single day for hours…we’re ready to come back to the sunshine state 🙂

  5. You’ve certainly had way more rain than we’ve had here. Thanks for the update on the salt marsh ‘s bedraggled inhabitants. The Black Skimmers are stunning, especially the sweet baby, and the juvenile Green Heron is really gorgeous. It’s always good to see Papa Stanley and Mama Sandy. 🙂

    1. Oh yes, all the storms have been circling around here for the last two weeks…dumping sometimes 6 inches a day. We’re fine here in our area despite some flooding on the beach and the park, but the coastal areas north of us have bad flooding on roads and in residential areas. We’re ready for some sun now 😀 I thought the baby Black Skimmer was beautiful too. And seeing Sandy and Stanley is always reassuring. If they don’t complain, we shouldn’t either 🙂

  6. What a deluge you’ve had! Great photos, Tiny, really great. I really like the skimmer close-ups, and must say I have never seen a sleeping skimmer, so this was quite amazing. Also happy to know Mama and Papa are fine. Loved the last photo a lot. 🙂

    1. Thank you Jet! At first I thought that skimmer was dead, I have never seen them sleeping like that. But he was very much alive! Later I saw another one sleeping like that too. Mama and Papa have had to go fish even in heavy rain (we had a couple of days with almost no breaks) so it’s a bit tough for them, but they seem to manage it well 🙂

  7. That’s some rain you received! I wondered if the birds like the fresh water over the salt water? Super photos as always Helen – a highlight in my week!

    1. Thanks Kathy! I think these birds like both, but the fresh water is better to drink 🙂 It’s interesting that the salt marsh has a much lower salt level than the sea surrounding it, and I’ve seen many birds drinking there too. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Hi Takami! We’re doing okay, and the wildlife is so adaptable. While the rain has been more than enough, we all enjoy the lower summer temperatures brought in by the thunderstorms 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoyed the walk and the wading exercise, Susan. I’m hoping to be able to go out there this weekend too, but this time I might walk there along the road. Have a beautiful weekend.

  8. That was a lovely outing in the salt marshes with you, Tiny. Excellent captures of the marshscapes and our feathered friends.

    1. Happy you came along on this wet outing! I find that little salt marsh quite fascinating with so many different birds residing an visiting there, right under my nose.

  9. The birds seem to be coping well with all that excess water. I did smile at the sleeping skimmer. What a funny way to sleep. Glad you were able to get out and update on the marsh for us. Intrepid Tiny. 😉

    1. That’s what “embedded reporting” means 😉 How the skimmer was sleeping looked really funny, more like he was in eternal sleep. But no, he scrubbed his eyes, got his coffee and went walking a way with his friend. And I saw another one sleeping like that too. Nature is full of wonders.

  10. How wonderful that you’ve had so much rain on the west coast of Florida! What a treat to visit your new “lake” and its inhabitants. We keep getting short stormy, rainy bursts, but the water levels everywhere are still very low. The papa osprey looks like he really got soaked :-).

  11. Forgot to ask about the sleeping Skimmer …. I’ve never seen a bird award to be lying down sleeping like this 😳. Do they actually sleep in the beach in the open like this??

    1. Our water levels are above normal now…and everything is “atomic” green 🙂 I had never seen a skimmer, or any other bird, sleep laying flat on the beach like that before. Now saw this skimmer and another one sleep like this. First I thought they were in “eternal sleep”, but they both got up after a while and went about their business as usual.

    1. Happy you enjoyed the walk, David. I was going to take a walk this morning, but yet another storm pushed on shore from the Gulf. Raining sideways over the marsh right now.

  12. I can’t believe how much it is raining by you, and they were saying my east coast is in a drought! We are getting afternoon storms just about every day…usual summer weather…but we always know the sun will be out in the morning…reminds me of a song!! Hope you are well, Tiny! ♡

    1. I’m doing well, just missing my daily walks as the storms keep rolling in from the ocean. The normal summer weather pattern with afternoon showers is only going to return mid next week. Looking forward to that 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Lorrie ❤

    1. The sea hawks may have stopped somewhere between us as we do not see any migratory birds here as yet. Just our own familiar faces. But that will change starting late this month. I’m still trying to send some warmth your way 🙂

  13. Oh dear, so sorry about all the drenching rain! I hope you start to see sunny skies again and that all the birds can dry out. That baby skimmer was adorable! So good to see all the regular residents of the salt marsh, even if they do look a bit bedraggled and put out by the weather! 🙂 Fabulous photos, all, Tiny!

    1. Thanks Amy! I loved the baby skimmer too, never seen one before. Everyone is a bit drenched now…the wet weather has continued. Salt marsh is brimming with water – had a short walk today between rain showers. We’re expecting a bit dried weather from mid week…hello sunshine! Have a wonderful week ahead, greetings from the sunshine state 😀

      1. I hope the forecast holds true and you get that nice span of drier weather! We’ve actually had a hot week here in the north and are supposed to be back down to the high 70’s, which I am anxiously awaiting! 🙂 I have a love/hate relationship with a/c. 🙂

          1. Well, I had the Weather Channel on this morning and saw what the Tampa area is being hit with. 😦 Are you building an ark for all the birds of the marsh yet? Praying for clear skies, sun and dry weather for all of you!

            1. It seems (looking out of my office window) that the birds are gathering on the grass now. The marsh is too deep for them to wade – more like a small lake, and the flooding is prevalent in low lying areas of the park. The rains started again last night and have been going ever since. We’re all praying for dry weather!

  14. I love this post, Tiny! Almost missed it, I had visitors last week. 🙂
    So wonderful to see Stanley and Sandy again. They both look great. 🙂

    1. Thank you! The salt marsh became so deserted at the end of last week when the rains just pounded us relentlessly. Luckily the birds have now returned after a couple of sunny days.

  15. Haha vilket fint underbett den där skimmern hade, vad har evolutionen haft för skäl att gynna utvecklingen av det, tro? En effektiv fiskhållare eller?

  16. The baby black skimmer looks so curious! I’m late joining you for this walk but have so enjoyed your wonderful pictures. I hope your weather is back to normal and that you have resumed your regular walking routine.

    1. The baby black skimmers are now learning to fly and they are so cute! The weather returned to its normal summer pattern with sun and intermittent thunderstorms last week. The beach and the park have now almost dried up, but the salt marsh will sport high water levels for quite a time. I’m trying to get in my walks, but now busy with work too…which is actually a good thing for a consultant 🙂

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