Tag Archives: Beach

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.

Summer at the Salt Marsh. Beach Party. Rivalry. And Construction Plans.

Hello friends! I’m still on my summer break, but since I’m at home right now I want to give you an update on the affairs at the salt marsh. H.J’s visit early this month brought in the regular thunderstorms with downpours that belong to our summer. At the salt marsh, water levels are up and everything is fresh green.

salt marsh ud73

salt marsh ud73A couple of days ago I took a walk on the beach and was invited to a beach party attended by hundreds of feathered guests. It was a jolly event with Black Skimmers, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls, including juveniles, enjoying the freshwater ‘lake’ formed on the beach by the frequent torrential downpours. The ‘lake’ occupied almost the whole beach, leaving only a wet, narrow strip of sand next to the salt marsh.

beach party after the rain UD73Some partygoers were flying back and forth looking for the perfect spot, others were catching up on the latest, bathing or preening. It was lively indeed.

birds on the beach 2 ud73

royal tern UD73

juvenile gull ud73Some guests were resting, and yet others had partied enough and fallen asleep on the sand. But in such a crowd you’d better sleep with your eyes open, like this Black Skimmer.

black skimmer sleeping ud73Despite being attired with my newly acquired cheerful rain boots, I decided not to test the water depth in the ‘lake’, but instead to walk to the salt marsh through the bay side.

my new rain boots ud73.jpgThat was a great decision. I was rewarded with a pleasant discovery. Papa Stanley had returned from his 4-week vacation!

papa osprey ud73He was perching on the wind measurement device at the Sailing Center, obviously planning his next fishing trip. I could hardly see him as the sun was right in my eyes, but looking at my photos I realized he had definitely recognized me. From there I went to see Mama Sandy. She was ‘babysitting’ the nest again, and greeted me with a friendly nod. And I thought she tried to tell me about the dismal condition of the nest. We both agree that the nest will not make it through the nesting season starting in December.

mama osprey ud73I was happy to let her know that I’ve finally started the process of getting the nest repaired – or perhaps replaced. This will involve several steps: evaluating the nest pole to see if it has hollowed and will need to be replaced, and if that is the case, evaluating the ground to see if it can carry the heavy equipment needed to replace the whole structure with a new, more durable one. If the answer is yes, then I’ll have to get busy approaching sponsors to get help with the fairly high cost of this project. If the answer is no, then we’ll need to come up with plan B and only replace the nest platform that is falling apart. I hope to have these answers in the next few weeks through the Clearwater Audubon Society. While they don’t have the money to pay for this project right now, they have the required permits and the connections to suitable contractors, and have kindly agreed to help. Wonderful news for our Osprey family.

mama osprey at the nest ud73I promised to keep Mama Sandy updated. As I walked around the marsh, I observed something quite interesting. Both the younger Great Blue Heron and the Mayor were present. Staring at each other from opposite ends of the marsh. Measuring strength. As many of you know, the young one is a colorful character. He is still much smaller than the Mayor, but clearly has the desire to be the king of the hill, so to speak. He has been frequenting the marsh over the last three months, while the Mayor has taken care of his family on the ‘bird island’ in the bay. Last spring the Mayor told us ‘I’ll be back’ – and he has kept his promise.

young great blue heron ud73
Young GBH
great blue heron Mayor ud73
Older GBH, the Mayor

A Great Egret was following the developments with keen interest from a tree in the middle of the marsh.

great Egret ud73And a female Cowbird was excitedly cheering on the Mayor from a nearby tree.

female brown-headed cowbird ud73Miss Rosa was seeking shelter from the sun at her usual spot, but kept an eye on the two rivals as well. Particularly the youngster. She didn’t cheer.

roseate spoonbill ud73The Snowy Egret was staring at the young heron too, and he didn’t cheer either.

snowy egret UD73A family of White Ibis was foraging in the grass close by, probably hoping their youngster wouldn’t need to witness any brouhaha on such a beautiful day.

Juvenile ibis ud73Their wish was granted. The truce lasted, and each heron held on to its end of the marsh. I walked home and shot some pictures of flowers in our garden on my way in. Pink flowers. Just to celebrate summer.

I look forward to visiting my family in northern Europe early August. I may do a short mobile post from there. Otherwise I’ll see you after mid August. Lots to catch up on by then.

Thanks for coming along. I hope you are enjoying your summer too. Much love.

Summer Menu. Or What’s Cooking?

I’m a fairly good cook. Not entirely self-proclaimed. Being a decent cook certainly has its plusses. Friends will happily accept dinner invitations, and nobody orders delivery just before meal time. But it also has its minuses. You see, I love eating out. Hubby might say It’s your birthday, let’s go out. Or maybe it’s Mother’s Day. Or a special meetup with out-of-town friends. That’s about it.

So what does a girl do? She develops an array of effective strategies to get out anyway. This week, for example, I have two lunch appointments in reputable restaurants. Cheers to that.

Happy hour 3 ud71To tell you the truth, deep inside I love cooking. But I’m not into following recipes. I find it boring. Following a recipe leaves no room for creativity. It also requires all kinds of measuring devices and detailed mathematical conversion skills. And I’m a big picture person. So that’s not for me. But don’t get me wrong, I love reading recipes from all over the world. They give me ideas.

flounder fillets ud71Anyway, last night I invented a new dish, suitably light for hot summer evenings. Filet de Flet à crabe. Or flounder fillets topped with a crab meat concoction (a heap of crab meat, one egg, olive oil mayonnaise, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mozzarella cheese, breadcrumbs, one poblano pepper, one shallot, black pepper and salt). To be served with spicy baked zucchini, tomatoes and if preferred, some cheese-lemon sauce on the side. After 35 minutes in 400F/200C oven – bon appetite.

filet de flet UD71Everyone will survive and accolades will follow. I know.

Tonight it might be pizza. I like the artistic freedom to throw tasty toppings on a super thin crust. After so many years in Africa, my favorite is the Kilimanjaro. BBQ-alfredo-mustard sauce and extra cheese to remind us of the yellow grass on the surrounding savannah, then small heaps of thinly sliced beef fillet for mini-mountains, topped with snow of feta cheese. A few chopped green bell peppers for bushes and some pineapple chunks for lions lurking around. And mushrooms for other animals. So yummy it requires a long after-dinner walk on the savannah….or at the salt marsh.

So that’s what’s cooking at my place.

island in the bay ud71Figuratively speaking, more things are cooking in the summer heat. Like a meetup with a bird photographer/blogging friend and his family early this week, family visits, photo hikes and overseas travel to cooler latitudes. And also on the summer menu: just relaxing. Recharging mind, body and soul.

What’s cooking at your place? Literally or figuratively.

A Day by the Sea

Waking up this morning, I smile. 24 brand new hours are before me. – Thich Nhat Hanh

the bay before sunrise UD15The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. – Rumi

sunrise at the beach UD1God gives every bird his worm, but He does not throw it into the nest. –  P. D. James

Willet shore birdWhat will our children do in the morning if they don’t see us fly? – Rumi

sandwich tern flying in the surf in ud67I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes. – Charles Lindbergh

pelican taking off 3 ud25Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Khaled Hosseini

our camp on dolphin island ud67.jpgMay your journey through life be vibrant and full of colorful rainbows. -Harley King

rainbow beach ud67bClouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

sunset ship ud67For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.       – Richard H. Baker

full moon clearwater floridaThe pure bliss nature will plant in your soul is worth a day spent by the sea. – Tiny

Lady Cawcaw Performs. And High Drama at the Salt Marsh.

Two Ospreys were circling in the skies above the nest, looking down and talking to Lady Cawcaw. Both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were calling on her to go fishing with them. She responded something I didn’t quite understand, but she didn’t lift her butt from the nest. Typical teenager. After a few minutes Sandy flew over the nest with a fish. She is lightning fast. In the top 10 % of Ospreys as far as fishing speed is concerned. She was looking up at Stanley who had yet to go fishing.

papa osprey calls for chick to go fishing ud65

Mama Osprey with a fish ud65Seeing the fish, Lady Cawcaw started to sing. She  sang from the heart. You know that song. It’s quite repetitive, as you can hear in this 30 second clip.

But that didn’t work. No fish for her. Instead, Sandy landed on Mariott’s roof to enjoy her fish.

mama osprey eats her fish ud65And Stanley, once he flew towards the ocean, soon came back with a fish and started eating it in his usual hideout in the old pine tree close to the nest.

papa osprey eats his fish ud65.jpgAs you can see, Lady Cawcaw’s parents both caught the same kind of fish. I’m sure there was a school of that particular fish close to the shore and that was the reason they wanted her to come with them and learn. But no.

osprey chick 16x9 ud65She was hungry. And she continued to ask for food. I was sitting on “my” bench and watching her desperate quest to be fed without getting her feathers wet, when I noticed some movement on the water below the nest. I couldn’t believe my eyes…

mottled duck mom with 7 ducklings ud65…when Mama Mottled Duck swam to the shore with seven ducklings. She climbed up on the grass and so did the ducklings. Where was she taking them?!

mama duck and ducklings 2 ud65They marched straight towards the stone wall between the marsh and the busy street. Oh, no!!

mama duck in the grass ud65Mama Duck knew about a hole in the wall and they went through it. I had to run around the stone wall to get to the road. The traffic had to be stopped! I was gesturing like a mad woman (that I am) to the cars. Mama Duck and the ducklings marched right on to the busy street!

mama mottled duck takes ducklings over the gulf blvd ud65The cars stopped! They did. And Mama marched onto the Sailing Center grounds. Then into the grass and further towards the bay.

mama duck and duckling safely on the bay side ud65I guess their nest had been flooded by the rains dumped on us by TS Colin, and she had to move. The salt marsh is brimming with water.

salt marsh after Colin ud65Probably the highest water levels I’ve seen. Many of the small islands are under water and marsh flowers are sticking up from the water.

flooding at the salt marsh UD65The whole marsh looks more like a lake. No small “beaches” or mud flats.

This was on Tuesday, but the water had not receded even today. I walked around the marsh this morning and noticed that only large wading birds were around, and even they were sitting on the little trees sticking up from the water.

great egret ud65All, apart from the younger Great Blue Heron. He was standing right next to “my” bench. And he didn’t like to see me.

young great blue heron ud65In fact, he was very vocal about it. Before he took off.

younger great blue heron ud65.jpgApart from Great Egrets, I spotted a Snowy Egret on the doggy park fence, next to a little “lake” that had formed there.

snowy egret ud65

She was watching a Mottled Duck happily swimming around in the temporary “lake”.

mottled duck ud65…while her cousins, the Moorhens, were cruising the marsh in big numbers.

papa moorhen ud65And how was the svelte Lady Cawcaw, you may ask. She was just fine. She sang again. And this time her song was heard. Mama Sandy came in with half a fish.

mama osprey delivers fish UD65I left her eating her small portion, and walked onto the beach. A big party was going on in the new fresh water lake.

black skimmers royal terns and laughing gulls bathing ud65Laughing Gulls, Black Skimmers and Royal Terns enjoyed the temporary bath tub. There were hundreds of birds around. Some flying in tandem…

two black skimmers ud65…others just relaxing on the sand.

black skimmer sleeps ud65I was almost at home when an Osprey flying over the ocean caught my eye. It was lady Cawcaw!

osprey chick flies over the ocean 3 ud65I guess her small lunch had left her hungry. She flew beautifully, but was not looking down. She’s yet to learn that fish don’t fly. But this was a great start. Next time when her parents want her to go fishing with them, she just might follow them.

We all wish you a great weekend ahead. Peace.

Naming Party. Accompanied by Colin.

So Tropical Storm Colin was a rain-maker. Not much punch in the wind department, only occasional 50 mph/80 kmph gusts, but flash floods on the roads and many flooded neighborhoods. Youngsters were kayaking on some streets in the city last night. Not good, but not as bad as expected.

lake in the garden ud65For us here on the beach it brought elevated tide levels and rip currents, a freshwater lake on the beach and another in the garden. And the salt marsh is brimming with water after 48 hours of continuous down pours. Fresh.

terns and flooring from Colin ud65Throughout the day yesterday, I was keeping an eye at the Osprey chick who was alone in the nest. At the beginning of the storm yesterday morning, I saw her standing in the nest. She was not laying down and facing the wind, as you can see. It was clear she had not yet acquired the storm savvy of her parents.

osprey chick in the the storm Colin ud65When the worst of the storm came over us around midday, it was impossible to see anything for the walls of rain moving sideways. And it became really dark. I tried to shoot pictures of the osprey nest in the salt marsh…

colin middle of the day ud65…and only after much magic in the “filter room”, I could get one picture where it was possible to distinguish the Osprey chick in the nest. Now she was laying down facing the wind.

osprey chick layig low in high winds colin ud65When the torrential rains had eased up a bit, I could see she was still “flat” in the nest. She had not flown anywhere, and her parents had not gone fishing for her.

osprey chick bracing the wind of colin ud65Finally when the wind had also eased up, at around 6:30 p.m., I found her eating supper. Probably the only meal she got yesterday. I guess Papa Stanley had managed to spot a fish in the choppy seas for her. I think this young lady learned quite a bit. Resilience, endurance and confidence.

names for osprey chick ud65.jpgMeanwhile, inside our comparatively much cozier home, I was preparing for the “drawing” to determine her name. All together 21 great name proposals were received. Thank you all!

the hat ud 65

I typed out all the names on paper strips of the equal size. Then folded the strips around pieces of Dylan’s favorite cookies. He was patiently following the whole procedure. Without snatching one single piece. Talk about self discipline. I went to get the hat while he guarded the cookie pieces. But the hat was too small for all the pieces to lay flat.

dylan waiting for the drawing ud65.jpgSo I put the cookies wrapped in paper (instead of bacon) in his toy basket. I placed it on the floor. Dylan was looking for permission to start the drawing, but didn’t move. Only when I said he was allowed to take a piece, he quickly sprung into action.

dylan doing the drawing ud65He picked one piece with the paper and all into his mouth, but I managed to grab the paper strip before he ate it. And this was the name he picked out…

name revealed ud65Lady Cawcaw!  That’s a suitable name for a great singer our chick has already proven to be 😉 Congratulations to Hariod!  Dylan got himself two more pieces of his favorite dessert once I had removed the papers.

The book arrived today and will be on its way to England as soon as I receive your address, dear Hariod.

the prize book ud65Lady Cawcaw survived the storm. And I have lots to tell you about the “day after the storm”, amusement and drama in equal parts. And a long awaited performance. Of a different kind. But I don’t want to make this post too long so that will need to wait until next time.

osprey chick Lady cawcaw ud65Tonight we will have a sunset and I’m looking forward to capturing it. Be well.

 

Sunset Musings. And Naming Sweepstakes.

In 2014 Sandy and Stanley had one chick, a girl. I named her Diamond because she had a “necklace” that was diamond-shaped. In this picture taken in June 2014, she is carrying a half-eaten fish after a fishing trip with Stanley.

Diamond flying 2014 ud63Those who have followed my posts a bit longer may remember that I thought Diamond came to visit her parents in December last year. This is the only picture I got of her, taken right against the sun, but you can see her “necklace” was still there.

maybe Diamond ud63.jpgThen last year, Sandy and Stanley had three chicks. You, the friends of this Osprey family, named them Lofty, Aspire and Sindile. Lofty was the self-assured older brother, Aspire was the middle sister who aspired to do everything Lofty did, and Sindile was the sweet little sister.

last years osprey family ud63They all grew up nicely and fledged. Then in about four to five weeks they all learned to fish for themselves and left the nest. Sandy and Stanley were exhausted and went on a well deserved vacation.

Last years chicks ud63You may remember I thought Aspire also came back to visit her parents last December. What a beautiful young lady she had become.

aspire ud63So this year they had two chicks. The little one was born at least a week after the firstborn, which in itself was strange, and unfortunately she did not survive.

two osprey chicks ud63The beautiful firstborn fledged last week and now deserves to be named. I don’t think she’d like to be referred to as “the chick of 2016” when she comes to visit her parents later on all grown up.

osprey chick ud60Last night I took my light camera along for our evening walk to the doggy park and took a few sunset pictures using the dog stabilizer, pictured below.

dylan dog stabilizer ud63All my pictures are all little “soft” as the stabilizer was disturbed by some squirrels and other irresistible attractions along the trail. But you can see the Osprey chick was alert and looking intently at something on the ground, while Mama Sandy was enjoying some rest warmed by the last rays of sun.

mama and osprey chick at sunsset ud63I had to look right into the sun to see what she was staring at. Shading my eyes, I could finally distinguish a blue-gray shape hunkering behind some glittering long grass. The younger Great Blue Heron was in attendance. And the chick was keeping an eye on him.

young GBH 3 UD63

We also found Miss Rosa. She was standing on one foot and sleeping.

roseate spoonbill 2 ud63And walking back from the doggy park, we also spotted a Snowy Egret still hunting in the shallow waters.

snowy egret ud63Walking back home, I decided to take a swing on the bay side. The last rays colored everything vibrantly so I snapped a picture of the Sailing Center pier, while Dylan was looking right into the water from the edge of the sea wall.

sunset on the bay and papa osprey ud63Only after taking the picture, I realized there was something familiar. I zoomed closer while making sure Dylan didn’t intend to do a somersault into the water below. And caught a wet Papa Stanley resting on the railing, after what I believed was a failed dive for supper. I thought he looked like a painting.

papa osprey ud63Back to the name issue. What’s it gonna be? I leave that up to you. Please propose fun names for this girl in the comments. Last year I found it difficult to judge all those great proposals, so this year we are going to do a lottery, or sweepstakes. All you have to do is to put one name (not yet proposed by others) in the comments by next Monday, June 6.  I will then print them all out,  put them into a hat and Dylan will do the drawing. Dylan two weeks at home 3We’ve agreed that I will tie the name slips onto small halves of his favorite cookies. And the name on the first cookie piece he picks will be the winner. That should be fair. The only challenge with this procedure will be for me to take away the hat before he eats all the pieces.

Now you might be wondering about the price. No? I will not keep you guessing. The winner will get my 8 x 8″photo book about last year’s nesting season in hard cover, My Life as an Osprey. It’s in print already, so please hurry up 🙂 The winner will be announced next Wednesday.

osprey book 2015 seasonDylan and I are hoping you’ll come up with some great sounding names that even he can pronounce. Thanks in advance for putting you creative thinking hat on. Be good now. Tiny & Dylan