Flooding. Deserted Salt Marsh. And the Mayor’s Speech.

After 21 straight days of storms that dumped over 20 inches of rain on us, I’m happy to report we’re seeing the sun again here on the west coast of the “sunshine state”. When the rain finally stopped on Monday afternoon, I went to check out the flooding. And to see if I could spot any of my feathered friends.

beach and park flooding after the storms sand key clearwater florida

The beach and all the trails to the park were flooded. The new “Beach Lake” was even bigger than last week. As the rain had stopped, some boys tried to play ball at the shallow end of it. Lots of splashing.

playing ball on the flooded beach sand key clearwater florida

It was still gloomy, but the sun tried to show its face from under a hefty cloud cover. I didn’t want to repeat my wading exercise from last week, so I walked to the salt marsh on the street and the partly flooded walkways. The only bird I found on the usually lively bay shore was this Willet bathing in the floodwaters.

a willet bathing in flood water bay side sand key clearwater florida

And I spotted Papa Osprey. He was perched on a lamp-post far away, shaking his feathers and looking quite disheveled.

male osprey on a lamp post sand key clearwater florida

Entering the park, I saw flooding everywhere. All low-lying areas were under water, and the doggy park just north of the salt marsh had become a water feature for the birds.

flooding in the park sand key clearwater floridadoggy park under water sand key clearwater florida

Otherwise the salt marsh was deserted.  I walked around looking for my friends, water sloshing around my boots. The only birds I could find, in addition to those at the doggy park, were the young Great Blue Heron and Mama Sandy.  The heron was walking in the high grass, and Sandy was roosting at the nest. She was clearly tired of the rains. Just like me.great blue heron inspects the marsh sand key clearwater floridafemale osprey perching at her nest Sand Key park Clearwater FloridaThe water level in the marsh was too high for many of the birds to hunt there…and still rising. So they had evacuated.

salt marsh under water Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Yesterday afternoon, after three days of sunshine, I went back there to check how things were progressing. The flood waters in the park had receded considerably, but the marsh was brimming with water, and the beach was still flooded.

To my delight, I found that many residents had returned. The old Great Blue Heron, the Mayor, was surveying his little village at the west end of the marsh. He was addressing the community. Saying it was safe to return, I gathered.

great blue heron inspects the marsh Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

I had to laugh when I saw the crowd on the fence of the doggy park. They were listening to the Mayor while trying to dry up in the sun. The park was too soggy for the dogs to come back, so it was a safe place to roost.

egrets and ibis perching on the fence in the dog park Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Egrets and Ibis were perching on trees and bushes in big numbers. Like white dots sprinkled all over the marsh. And the Roseate Spoonbill was enjoying some shade at her usual spot below the osprey nest. She kindly agreed to a photo shoot.

birds in the salt marsh after the storms Sand Key park Clearwater Floridaa roseate spoonbill Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

The young Night Heron was back too, drying his feathers next to the deep water. It looks like he’s become a permanent resident. Decided the salt marsh was a safe place to grow up.

juvenile night heronSand Key park Clearwater Florida

The tiny Tricolored Heron surveyed the water levels at the east end of the marsh, looking a bit anxious. She probably understood it’d be some time before she could go hunting there again. The grassy little pools where she’d normally go fishing were now part of the “lake”. Full of big, scary fish.

tricolored heron on a stormy day Sand Key park Clearwater Floridafish in the salt marsh Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

The Mottled Ducks were happily cruising the waters, and so were the Moorhen families. With kids of all ages.

moorhen chick Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

moorhen chick Sand Key park Clearwater Floridamoorhen chick and a juvenile moorhen Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

And Mama Sandy was perched in her “watch tower”, monitoring the busy air traffic between the bay and the beach. I saw the young Great Blue Heron fly over the nest, and heard Sandy give a stiff warning. She has no tolerance for fools who’ve attacked her nest.

female osprey Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Before going home, I had to check on Papa Stanley too. He was back in his resort, looking much more put together. And really paying attention to me. I felt tiny under such scrutiny.

male osprey Sand Key park Clearwater Florida

Life at the salt marsh is slowly returning to normal.  We all wish you a wonderful weekend and thank you for coming to see us. Much appreciated. Just like the sunshine.

66 thoughts on “Flooding. Deserted Salt Marsh. And the Mayor’s Speech.”

    1. Yes, definitely good news! I’ve never seen so much water, not even after the tropical storm in 2012. It will probably take a couple of more weeks before everything is dry again. And I really feel for people who live close to rivers and creeks as their homes were flooded. And I’m amazed how much water the salt marsh can take.

  1. A lovely photo essay, Tiny. I am grateful to know that the wondrous birds you write about weathered the storms and have been able to return home despite the flooding. (I especially love the photo of the “Mayor” and your description of his attentive audience.)

    1. Thank you Carol. It was eerie to find the salt marsh so deserted, but lovely to see that only after three sunny days the birds were all back. It was also good the rains waited until all the baby birds could either fly or swim 🙂 The “Mayor” is very special…he’s been there for a long time.

        1. We had a nice morning, but now have some rain again. It’s supposed to clear up in mid afternoon…I’m sure the little raindrops know they are needed elsewhere 🙂 I loved your daughter’s story!

    1. I hope so, Jackie 🙂 At least they seem to trust me better now and are not so quick to fly away as they used to. I had to smile when Stanley was scrutinizing me from head to toe…hugs ❤

  2. Seems like you all have been through quite the soggy time. So happy to see that things are slowly returning to normal. I got such a kick out of those birds on the fence, listening to the Mayor! Wishing you lots of warm sunshine!

    1. Many long time residents say they have never seen so much water. I’m happy we’re drying up now, sunshine and mostly blue skies. The birds on the fence and the Mayor talking, turned to face them, made me laugh too. It was comical, almost like a formal address. Have a wonderful weekend, Susan!

  3. Thanks so much for this latest update Tiny.
    In spite of all you’ve been through, I’m relieved to know everyone is safe and hopefully getting dry after the floods. As always, I enjoyed very much following the Salt Marsh members, and loved each moment.
    Wishing you all a good weekend,
    Takami

    1. Thank you Takami. We’re having a thundershower right now, but it’s supposed to pass in a couple of hours. Salt marsh birds enjoy the cooling brought by short showers, but we all hope the drying trend will continue 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. More water than long time residents remember ever seeing! It will take a while to dry up as we’re getting a few more thunder showers every now and then…but we’re lucky right here in our neighborhood that no homes have been flooded. The birds can always move higher up or swim on the water now much less salty 🙂 The ducks seem to love it!

  4. That’s a lot of rain – even for here on the wet West coast! Glad things are returning to normal and here’s hoping the salt marsh soon returns to it’s former glory. Super photos! Have a good weekend Helen!

    1. Thanks Kathy! We’ve had four days of sun and today again some storms. I’m just hoping they pass quickly so the drying up can continue. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Yes, we’ll need a pretty long dry spell to get back to normal. Another thunder shower just passing right now 😦 but it should be outta here in a couple of hours. Hope your weekend is going great!

  5. Praying Life will return to normal as soon as the waters recede. I am also very grateful you are all right, Tiny. That is a LOT of rain you received. And Florida being so flat …. I cannot even imagine!! (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

    1. In our neighborhood, we’re grateful that much of the excess water is going to the ocean, the bay and the salt marsh so no homes are flooder here. But it’s still miserable in many other places in the region, especially inland near rivers and creeks. Some people still have a foot of water inside their homes and are living in shelters. I pray for a quick dry up so their lives can be restored. Have a wonderful, peaceful weekend, Amy. Much love ❤

  6. Wow! I had no idea that the salt marsh was that vulnerable in that case your park and beach too! I knew it was raining very much, my cousin lives across the bay in Sarasota and told me about it. I’m so sorry Tiny I know how much you care about your small paradise. Please take care! ❤

    1. Actually, we have been the lucky ones despite the flooding on the beach and in the park. No homes were flooded and the roads around here have been clear. Which I cannot say about many other areas, unfortunately. The salt marsh has been a real bird “invasion” after the rains stopped…probably 30+ egrets this morning! Thank you for caring, H.J. ❤

  7. 21 straight days of storms! So glad life is returning normal. Happy to see these birds and Stanley and Sandy! 🙂 They are so beautiful!

    1. Thank you Amy! Life is starting to look pretty normal in the salt marsh…high water levels still, but lots of birds this morning, including Sandy who flew in with a fish 🙂

    1. Happy you liked my weekly report from the salt marsh. Things are indeed improving slowly. The flooded areas are drying up, and the birds are back in force.

  8. A very interesting photo essay. The pictures are wonderful, and I especially enjoyed the bedraggled Poppa Osprey on the lamppost. It made me smile. That’s way too much rain for too many days in a row. I hope you will continue to dry out.

    1. Thanks Carolyn. Papa osprey looks much better now, all dried up 🙂 We’ve only had one or two thunderstorms since the rains stopped last Monday, and that’s more like normal August weather here. We ‘re slowly drying up.

  9. Oh. My. Gosh. How wet and bedraggled did your marsh become over those three weeks but am so glad the waters receded much quicker then it took to fall. What good news to hear it is now sunshine raining down upon you once again. And I have to say, Miss Roseate is looking even more gorgeous than usual if that is at all possible, lol! 🙂

    1. Miss Roseate was really gorgeous, wasn’t she. The water levels are slowly going down, but I’m still amazed how much water the salt marsh could take. And the birds are back in force 🙂

  10. Wow that is a lot of storm, thanks for sharing the amazing shots and glad sunshine is back! Happy Weekend to you too! Will be praying with you for the quick dry up for all the residents! ❤

    1. Thank you Neha! We are on our way to dry up, and the sun keeps shining most of the time. All the birds have now returned to their homes at the salt marsh. Have a wonderful week ahead ❤

  11. Happy weekend to you, too, Tiny. One of these days, we are going to find you posing up on the lamp post with Papa Stanley, courtesy of a photo by Mama Sandy – that’s how much a member of the family you have become!

    1. That was really funny! I could see the imagery 😀 The truth is that both Sandy and Stanly recognize me now, but Sandy is more used to me because she is so much more in the nest – always there with the chicks and then “babysits” the nest rest of the year. This morning she flew into the nest with a fish, nodded good morning, and started enjoying her breakfast.

  12. So glad to hear things are returning to somewhat normal. With the new ecosystems being created all over the world it’s going to be a matter of who is most adaptable to be able to survive, including us humans. Great photos.

    1. You are so right, Roslyn. We are slowly drying up from what many “long-timers” here say was the most water they have ever seen. Hope your recovery is progressing well.

  13. Thanks for the update and your always wonderful photos, Helen. What a crowd were gathered for the mayor’s announcement! Poor Papa Stanley does look in rather a sorry state. 😓 Hope you have a nice dry week ahead. xx 😃

    1. The crowd on the fence was quite an amusing sight 🙂 I don’t think Stanley liked the continuous rains…I spotted him looking rather grumpy several times, wet and with no fish 😕 . It seems a more normal weather pattern has returned…and we’re drying up slowly. Have a wonderful week ahead, Sylvia. XX

  14. That’s a lot of rain and flooding!! What a great post – from desertion and dishevelment to regaining balance. Nature – and life – at its best. I hope it continues to find its middle ground soon 😉

    1. Thanks Val! It seems like we’re finding a nice middle ground, slowly but surely. This morning the salt marsh was truly lively, water is still high but birds have returned in big numbers. The Mayor had some trouble with keeping order among so many visitors 😉

  15. We have all had some crazy weather this year on both sides of the world. It is amazing how resilient these little creatures are during the wild weather. It is great that they are back on deck again, for you to post more beautiful images. Thanks again for an interesting and informative post. I am always delighted to read what you share Tiny:-)

    1. Yes, lots of crazy weather in many places. We seem to be back to our normal summer pattern of sun and thunder showers, and we’re on a drying trend. The salt marsh saw a real bird “invasion” yesterday….lots of Egrets! Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week 🙂

    1. Thanks Dina. It was flooded on the beach and in the park, but the main road was okay. Now even the beach is almost dry and the water level is slowly going down at the marsh. Have a great week!

  16. Love the picture of Stanley scrutinizing you – look at those piercing eyes! I know I’ve said it before, but I am quite smitten with the photogenic roseate spoonbill. Do you have a name for her? It seems like the weather has given the bird community so much to talk about.

    1. Stanley is not as used to me as Sandy is (she spends so much time in the nest) so he usually stares quite a it. Sandy just looks at me like “oh that’s you” and continues whatever she doing. The resident spoonbill is Rosa, but this past week I saw at least six others deeper in the park. But Rosa stayed at home 🙂

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