Category Archives: Storms

Living on the Edge. Of the Salt Marsh.

Yesterday I was standing on the edge of my terrace watching a helicopter fly very low over the salt marsh and the park. Its flight pattern was crazy, heart-quickening. It would rise up fast, make a sharp turn over the bay or the Clearwater pass followed by a wild descent until it almost touched the ground.

helicopter-turning-ud79

mosquito-control-helicopter-ud79What was going on? I zoomed in and found the answer. It was a mosquito control helicopter from the county dropping larvicide in the many still flooded areas of the park. Part of the county’s efforts to prevent the Zika virus from spreading through local transmission.

mosquito-control-patrol-ud79It landed once and park personnel came forth to load several bags of (probably) granulated larvicide onboard.

helicopter-taking-off-16x9-ud79It’s been ten days since the torrential downpours from Hermine started, and although the flood water levels have been going down, both the beach and the park are still flooded (picture as of yesterday morning, today it looks a bit better).

flooding-after-hermine-ud79The whole park where the salt marsh is located is “closed until further notice due to effects after TS Hermine”. I had to read that out loud to Dylan, who insisted we go to the doggy park.

salt-marsh-flooding-after-hermine-ud79Very few birds have been present. I assumed it was because of the high water levels in the marsh would not allow them to feed, but it’s probably also due to the fact that bird blood is much preferred to human blood by mosquitoes. I learned this today from an article. My experience would have led me to a different conclusion.

You see, I had decided to take a walk on the beach and planned to visit the salt marsh too. Knowing that the beach entrances to the park would still be flooded, I was planning to ‘slink in’ to the salt marsh from the street.  Through the narrow opening between the stone wall and the closed gate. I was sure Tiny could get in through there when nobody was watching. That was the plan.

birds-at-the-beach-lake-ud79I walked through our back garden onto the board walk. And as I had anticipated the path to the beach had now dried up enough to allow me to walk there with my sturdy walking shoes. So I did. That’s when I was attacked by zillions of mosquitoes. Zillions. I’m not exaggerating. I had put on mosquito repellant on my ankles, arms, neck and nose, but they tried to bite me through my clothing. Twentynine of them hanging onto my crop jeans almost threw me crazy. I didn’t stop to zoom in on those fellows, so you have to take my word for it. Instead I ran to the water’s edge where a sea breeze drove most of them off. And on my way I stumbled upon a sand castle built by some brave little soul after the storm.

sand-castle-ud79The beach itself was lively. Only me and another woman, but hundreds of birds. Most of them were enjoying the now much more shallow floodwater lake between the beach and the salt marsh. The air traffic to and from the ‘lake’ was heavy, mostly Royal Terns and Black Skimmers.

royal-tern-2-in-flight-2-ud79

black-skimmer-in-flight-ud79And there were plenty of newly arrived shore birds at the water’s edge, Sanderlings, Willets and Ruddy Turnstones.

sanderling-ud79

willet-on-the-beach-ud79

ruddy-turnstone-ud79It was wonderful to see all of them again. And the Black Skimmer community was large. Beautiful juveniles and adults.

juvenile-black-skimmer-ud79

black-skimmer-talking-ud79Some juveniles were still hanging onto their parents – with resulting loud arguments and corresponding dramatics.

black-skimmer-juvenile-and-mom-ud79When leaving the beach I decided to run for my life through the soft, party wet path occupied by an army of aggressive mosquitoes. And arriving back to our garden, I had had enough of them. The planned ‘slinking in’ to the salt marsh would need to wait. Probably until they open the gates again. There is a reason for everything.

I wish you all a wonderful, mosquito-free weekend.

 

In Hermine’s Arms. Wet and Windy.

No, Hurricane Hermine did not make a landfall here in central Gulf Coast. But being on the east side of the storm brewing on the ocean we came to experience the worst weather in its feeder bands. Relentless downpours and tropical storm force winds from Wednesday until this afternoon. And it’s not quite over as yet. We are fine, just now surrounded by much more water than I have ever seen here. The beach has only a narrow strip of sand before the ‘lakes’ take over. All the paths to the salt marsh are heavily flooded too. And our garden has an extra pond where I usually walk Dylan at midday.

flooded lake on the beach from Hermine UD77

flooded beach hermine UD77

hermine extra lake UD77But there has been lots of drama in our area. Rescues from sinking cars, flooded streets, homes and businesses, a hospital evacuation and house fires. A storm surge in some places north of us reached 12 feet, while ours was only 2-3 feet. Luckily no lives were lost.

hermine damage channel 8 ud77It was difficult to stay inside for over two days. Apart from some challenging bathroom breaks for Dylan. The cabin fever set in. I had gone to the terrace a couple of times during short breaks in the rain to take pictures of the ocean, the salt marsh and the bay .

hermine at the jetty UD77

hermine bay ud77And I had tried to take a few pictures from inside as well. With varying degrees of success 🙂

rain and the bay Hermine UD77

hermine on the bay rain ud77So late this morning when the rain did let up for a couple of hours, I went out with my camera. I wanted to check on the flooding and the waves pounding the beach. Or so I thought.

hermine winds UD77I walked through our back garden and among lots of debris from palm trees, I found our resident Northern Mockingbird.

northern mocking bird UD77Then I steered towards our ‘board walk’, which leads to the beach. It was not under water, but I could see ‘lakes’ on both sides, normally dry land.

extra lake from hermine UD77

flooding from hermine UD77And when I arrived at the end of the walk, I discovered the path to the beach was flooded. Much more water than my rain boots would take.

hermine flooded path UD77So I ended up shooting the waves from our board walk. The wind was still measuring at over 30 miles or 50 kilometers per hour. It was difficult to stay upright. Even the flood waters had noticeable waves.

hermain on the ocean UD77

hermine gulls and waves UD77

6 foot waves Hermine UD77The waves were still about 6 feet high and a group of terns was taking shelter at the narrow sand bank separating the ocean from the flood waters. Soon it started to rain again and I had to run inside. In the coziness of our living room I looked out towards the bay. Perfecting the art of staying inside 😉

hermine from inside 2 UD77I have not yet been able to visit the salt marsh due to the heavy flooding, but I hope to do so later on this Labor Day weekend. The only bird I have seen from my terrace is Mama Osprey. She was checking on the nest this afternoon. The water levels are currently too high for the wading birds to walk there, but I’m hoping for a rush as soon as the waters recede a bit. Happy weekend to all of you.