Category Archives: Nature

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.

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!

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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

 

Morning Run. Pure Sunrise Magic.

Good morning! You up already? I’d like to invite you on a sunrise walk this Saturday morning. We’ll follow one of my regular routes, if that’s ok.  And jog or run a little too.

We’ll take the walkway from the garden to the beach. Right away we’ll see the magic of sunrise: the usually white sand now has a pretty pinkish hue.

on the beach at sunrise

And the ocean is bright blue. We jog north towards the nature reserve. The sand is packed tight by overnight rains. It’s easy on the foot, we start running. Over a long stretch of sand leading to the park, we turn around and take a funny selfie. Nobody is tiny this early in the morning.

Tiny sunrise walk

The sun is rising over the tall trees (featured image), and we jog into the park at the west end of the salt marsh.

nature reserve at sunset_tonemapped

This little path, a shortcut, is flanked by cheerful wild flowers and takes us right to the water.

nature reserve morning_tonemapped

It’s completely still. And the morning air is fresh.

sunrise salt marsh_tonemapped

The first rays reach above the tall trees and paint the grass and the water in beautiful hues. Most birds are still sleeping.

blue heron at sunrise2_tonemapped

But we find that the Great Blue Heron is an early riser. He prefers to hide in the high grass and doesn’t want to pose for pictures. So we continue our walk. We’ll actually run for a little while.

roseate spoonbill 2 at sunrise_tonemapped

And stop in our tracks when we see the only other early bird in the marsh.  A Roseate Spoonbill. She looks like she’s just waking up. Maybe trying to decide what she wants for breakfast.

SUNRISE AT NATURE RESERVE 2

We then continue to the east end of the marsh, now half lit up by the rising sun. Beautiful, right?  We stop for a little while to enjoy the painting. We take a few deep breaths. And a sip of water. But we must continue if we want to get breakfast at some point. And coffee. So we decide to take the fastest route back home, the street.

birds at sunrise all varieties 3

We now jog south on the bay-side. On a street light next to the Sailing Center, we find a dozen smaller birds of several varieties worshipping the rising sun. And enjoying the quiet of the morning. It’s going to be a busy day on the beach and on the bay too.

We’ll be home in another ten minutes. Thanks for keeping me company this morning. Take care now and have a great weekend.

 

 

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!