Tag Archives: Exercise

Sunrise Walk with Surprises. Both Good and Bad.

This morning I woke up to a glorious pre-dawn glow. I felt I needed exercise and decided to head out for a walk. While it was still cool. That’s a relative term here in Florida, of course.

Clearwater Bay Florida before sunrise
Pre-dawn sky over the bay.

This first morning after the July 4th weekend, I wanted to check on the birds after all the fireworks on the beach and around the bay on Saturday, and even on Sunday. I was hoping my feathered friends had been huddling in the salt marsh during the festivities, and not flying in the path of any of the hundreds of “rockets” reaching for the skies.

july 4 fireworks clearwater florida
July 4th fireworks over the bay.

The salt marsh was quiet and serene. Just me and a few birds. And the sun trying to peek over the horizon, while the moon was still hanging on high up in the sky.

sunrise at the salt marsh Sand key Park Clearwater Florida
Sun peeks over the horizon at the salt marsh…
vaning moon at sunrise Sand key Clearwater Florida
…but the moon lingers on…

Many of the residents were sleeping in their hidden night quarters, but the Great Blue Heron was already patrolling the shallow waters.

great blue heron at sunrise Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Great Blue Heron is an early bird…

And so were the Florida Mottled Ducks. I think these might’ve been juveniles from the brood I spotted in April.

two mottled ducks at sunrise Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and so are the young ducks.

I also spotted a bird that I couldn’t identify. My friend H.J. thinks it might be a Mississippi Kite – thank you!

Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike

Seeing the empty nest reminded me that I thought I’d seen Mama and Papa Osprey flying together on Saturday afternoon. I’d had my binoculars and made a positive ID on both.

empty osprey nest sand key park clearwater florida
The empty Osprey nest, now barebones after the storm mid June.

I decided to walk onto the bayside to see if I could find them. I walked past the Sailing Center where Papa Stanley used to have his feeding perch when Sindile was still in the nest. He was not there.

sunrise on the bay at the sailing center sand key clearwater Florida
Sunrise on the bay…

I admired the bay basking in newly acquired sunlight, when I spotted Mama Sandy on a lamp-post close to the sea wall! She’d gone away when the two older chicks left the nest, about three weeks ago. I’d been right when I saw the two of them. She was back!

female osprey with a fish at sunrise sand key clearwater florida
Mama osprey is back! I missed to check what she was looking at…maybe it was Papa flying by.

She was turned towards the rising sun, drying her still wet feathers, and eating a big fish with great appetite. And she didn’t look like she’d been on vacation. Her crop looked empty, and she had lost even more weight from the time I last saw her. She may have followed the chicks and been teaching them how to fish…getting very little food for herself.

female osprey eats fish at sunrise sand key clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy at sunrise, still wet after her breakfast dive.

Now she was back to keep an eye on the nest, exactly like last year. I left her eating breakfast and walked across the marsh back to the beach.

sunrise sky on Sand Key beach clearwater florida
Early sunrise sky as seen from the beach.

In addition to many gulls, I spotted a Ruddy Turnstone, and a Willet. Both were running back and forth at the water’s edge, busy getting breakfast.

ruddy turnstone on sand key beach Clearwater Florida
A Ruddy Turnstone on the beach.
willet on sand key beach at sunrise clearwater florida
A Willet in the waves.

But I also found something left behind by much bigger, and supposedly wiser, bipeds.

fireworks paraphernalia left behind on the beach clearwater florida
Fireworks paraphernalia left on the beach…

TNT Dark Revenge. Very close to a clearly marked Sea Turtle nest. Frustrating, and dark indeed. I’m just hoping the bangs didn’t disturb the 100+ eggs recently laid there by Mama Sea Turtle.

sea turtle nest on the beach clearwater florida
…next to a marked Sea Turtle nest.

Mother Nature is amazing, but her caretakers not always so. Luckily She is quite resilient. Constantly producing new life for us to enjoy. Like this blue-eyed juvenile Ibis and these fluffy Moorhen babies, both spotted over the weekend.

 juvenile ibis sand key park clearwater florida
A juvenile Ibis.
moorhen chicks and mom sand key park clearwater florida
Moorhen chicks listen attentively to their Mama.

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

Cold Front. Huddling and Hiding.

I came back home last night to the tune of strong winds and a passing cold front. By this morning, the wind had calmed down a bit and the skies were blue again, but it was cool.  I would say cold, but I don’t want to offend anyone. Anyway, I felt the need to get moving again this afternoon so I went out for a walk to check on my feathered friends.

Two Willets and one pair of feet...
Two Willets and one pair of feet…

The beach was quite stormy. And completely empty, apart from a few Willets. When passing the salt marsh,  I found the birds hunching in the grass or hiding in the trees. Even Papa Osprey and his friend Stanley were not perching upright as they usually do. That’s what a cold front does to you.

blue heron CF2
A Blue Heron hunching by the water…
snowy egrets and an ibis huddling CF
Two Snowy Egrets and an Ibis huddling together…
black crowned night heron and juvenile huddling CF
A Black-crowned Night Heron and a juvenile hiding in the bushes…
reddish egret CF
A Reddish Egret hunching in some bushes…
yellow crowned night heron freezing CF
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in the tree…
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes...
A Great Egret huddling in the shelter of some bushes…
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass...
A Wood Stork taking shelter in the long grass…
osprey stanley huddling CF
Stanley perched on a lamp post next to the park…
papa osprey CF
Papa Osprey at his nest…

The birds were clearly feeling the chill. Winter has arrived to Florida. And that means the start of the nesting season for many residents in the salt marsh.

Speaking of nesting, I have to tell you something I discovered later this afternoon. I saw Papa Osprey flying together with another Osprey.  And singing. I took some pictures of them on the run and when I enlarged them, I saw the other Osprey also had a “necklace”. Stanley and Steve don’t have one, but Mama Osprey does. Couldn’t be sure though it was her so I leave it like that. We’ll see soon enough.

I hope your week is going great!

Not Crowded. After Thanksgiving in the Salt Marsh.

After neglecting my exercise routine for almost a month, and eating far too much over the holiday, I decided it was time to get out. Not to the malls or other crowded venues offering black stuff for mere pittance, but to the salt marsh to check on my feathered friends. The weather was finally sunny and the strong winds had calmed down quite a bit.

salt marsh flower tree nov 29
Sunny in the salt marsh…

I was eager to see how the residents had fared the stormy weather and whether or not Papa Osprey would still recognize me.

after the storm in the nature reserve nov 29 tm

There we signs of minor wind damage, dead palm branches and small debris scattered everywhere. And very few birds out and about. I almost got worried. But then I spotted this Great Egret. He was hunting. Looking intently into the grassy pool of water, waiting patiently, and then making his move.

Great Egret hunting in the marsh nov 29
A Great Egret hunts…

He caught a little frog (click to enlarge, and you’ll see). He ate it and flew away to the sunny side of the marsh.

great egret catches a frog nov 29
…for a little frog
great egret flying 3 Nov 29
…and then flies away.

I continued to Papa’s nest. He was there, initially awake and checking his surroundings. But he had a full crop, much like mine after the holiday.  He was sleepy. After nodding a greeting, he soon fell asleep perching on the edge of his nest to digest his breakfast. I thought that was neat. Tiny was not a threat, it was okay to doze off. He looked cute sleeping like a baby, I thought.

Papa Osprey taking a nap Nov 29
PO takes a nap…

I let him sleep and walked around for a while looking for more birds. I found the Moorhen family, all three together, on an after breakfast swim.

Moorhen family Nov 29
The Moorhen family…

And whoops, suddenly a Little Blue Heron landed almost in front of me. I assume he’d been away for Thanksgiving.  Welcome home you little one!

little blue heron landing Nov
A Little Blue Heron comes back home…

But all the others were still sleeping, hiding or just away somewhere. So I decided to walk to the bay side to look for more familiar faces. But the pickings were slim.  To my delight I spotted at least one resident of the salt marsh, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

yellowcrowned night heron hunting on the bay nov 29
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron on a day trip…

That was rare as they usually don’t hunt after daybreak. I always find them dozing off in the bushes, but not this one. I hope he wasn’t sleepwalking.

Yellowcrowned night heron on the bayside nov 29
…walks in the shallow water of the bay.

I feel so much better after the long walk. My “crop” feels a little smaller. I hope yours does too.  ❤ Tiny

 

 

Reunion. Finally. With Papa Osprey and His Two Pals.

Returning from my trip last week, my hands were full of “stuff” that needed immediate attention. Like catching up on Bumble’s ear massages. Then NaNoWriMo kicked in gear on Saturday. And on Sunday night our air handler decided it was time to quit. I have to say it picked the best possible time to go silent. No need for heating or cooling in this gorgeous fall weather we’re having right now.

beach grass fall colors
Fall colors on the beach…

Anyway, I had checked on Papa Osprey using my binoculars. He was alive and well, doing his eat and rest routine in the nest for a few hours every day. But we he hadn’t actually met since long before my trip. He might have spotted me though when gliding high up past my office window on Sunday, enjoying the high winds we had over the weekend. I waved vigorously, but there’s no way to tell whether or not he actually saw me.

ocean waves on the beach halloween
The Gulf was a bit stormy over the weekend…

So finally yesterday morning, I stole an hour to go see him. Running on the sidewalk towards the park, I saw two ospreys sitting on street lights in front of me. They were turned towards the sun, their backs towards me.

papa osprey sees tiny
Papa Osprey on a lamppost…

The one closest to the park entrance was Papa osprey. He was a little wet, but had no fish. I was delighted to see him! And he didn’t seem terrified seeing me either. He said something short, one syllable only. Like “hey”. That made my day and I greeted him as well. After an appropriate time, I continued towards the other street light to see if the osprey with a fish was papa’s old pal Stanley or his newer pal Steve .

osprey stanley and fish
Stanley with a fish…listening to the message from the park.

But before I reached that light, I heard osprey talk from the forest at the East border of the park.  Steve was having a loud monologue on the dead palm trunk, sometimes also favored by P.O.

steve the third osprey is talking
Steve talking loud to his pals…

So the third osprey was likely to be Papa’s fishing pal, Stanley. I was right. And what a scary fish he’d caught! Check it out, huge teeth. Stanley looked at it somewhat warily as well, don’t you think?

osprey stanley with scary fish
How do I eat this scary fish?

I marveled at seeing all three ospreys together for the first time. And decided to take a swing in the nature reserve, even just to run around the salt marsh. Passing Papa’s lamppost again, I saw him fly away towards the ocean.

wood stork
A Wood Stork visiting the salt marsh…

After snapping a picture of a visiting Wood Stork and completing my run around the marsh about 15 minutes later, I approached Papa’s nest. He was there. With a fish! A red snapper? And he wasn’t even more wet than I’d just seen him. Must have skimmed the fish right from the surface.

papa osprey with a fish

This was the second time in the last one month he’s gone fishing after meeting me and then come back to show it off at the nest 😀 He definitely gets my Fisherman Badge!

I hope your week is going well. Warmest regards, 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.

 

 

New Duck on Papa Osprey’s Block. And a New Rival.

It’s been a lively week in the nature reserve. And I’m quite proud to say that I’ve run there on five days out of seven. In 90 degree weather. My reward has been that I don’t walk like a duck anymore. Although there’s nothing wrong with the walking style of this new resident, a male Muscovy Duck. Duck walk fits him perfectly.

Only small populations of this duck, native to Mexico, Central and South America, have established themselves in North America. It makes his company quite special. And I’ve seen him around on every run. Just like I’ve seen Papa Osprey. On Monday he was eating his lunch at noon on the top of his favorite dead palm trunk. The big fish got all his attention.

papa osprey having lunch 818
A large fish for lunch…

The next day he was having lunch, again around noon, on the top of a street light next to the bay.  When I arrived, he was just about done. And greeted me with an expressive look. I wonder what that means.

osprey finishing his lunch
Howdy…I had a good lunch…

Since Thursday, he’s been perching on the corner of his nest every morning. And on some evenings I’ve seen him there (from my terrace) close to sundown as well. I’m not sure whether he just likes to rest there, do some maintenance and plan for the upcoming nesting season, or whether he’s protecting the nest from the new male who appeared in this area mid July.  He might be making sure the other guy knows who has the leasing contract on the nest.

Papa osprey looks at tiny 822
Yesterdays greeting…
PO say hi 823
Today’s greeting…

This morning I could sense some tension in the air when the other osprey suddenly flew right over the nest,  and then settled on the top of a cypress tree nearby. In Papa Osprey’s park!

the other osprey flying over park 823
The other guy flying over the nest…
the other osprey on a tree top
I’m just sitting here…

They were not saying a peep, but clearly kept an eye on each other. It’ll be interesting to follow these dynamics in the coming days.

I have seen many other birds as well this week, but want to share only one more picture with you today.  We have Moorhen chicks again! What a nice surprise. I love these black fuzzy babies. Do I get an awww?

I'm following Mom...
I’m following Mom…

This time the nest is in the middle of the salt marsh, where they have lots of long grass to hide in.  Yesterday I saw two chicks from a distance when Mom Moorhen took them for a short swim. Today no such luck, but something to look forward to…

With that I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Peace. ❤ Tiny

 

Papa Osprey. The Maintenance Man.

My  regular readers know that Papa Osprey is a good man. Last January-February he made numerous trips to Home Depot fetching materials for nest renovation. Then tirelessly brought home fish after fish on a daily basis to feed Mama Osprey and the nestling. After the young one fledged, he sent Mama Osprey on a well deserved vacation. He cared for the youngster one more month, until she was completely independent and knew how to fish for herself. Remarkable achievements.

Papa osprey from Sand Key, Clearwater, FL
Papa Osprey on his favorite palm trunk

After he moved out of the nest and left it for the youngster to enjoy, I didn’t see him for about a month. Maybe he needed to recuperate and went on a cruise in the Caribbean? Or had some fun in Key West? Mid July I discovered he was back in his “township”. Since then he’s been hanging around. I’ve spotted him perched on the top of a dead palm trunk on the eastern edge of the park. Or on one of the street lights next to the bay. And even on Marriot’s roof. He’s looking after his territory. Managing his assets.

my bench 712
This bench has my name written on it…

But that’s not all. Yesterday, when I got out for a run, I was looking forward to greeting him again. I jogged north along the edge of the park and passed “his” palm tree. Not there. Then I checked the lamp posts where I’ve spotted him previously. Even took a swing around the Sailing Club grounds, but he was nowhere to be seen. A bit disappointed I turned around and headed into the nature reserve. I needed a short break to drink some water. And to dig out my camera. Just in case something interesting would happen around the salt marsh. So I sat down on my usual bench under the trees. I had some water. Then I looked up.

papa osprey visiting the nest 812 clearwater, FL
Surprise, surprise! Papa Osprey is at “home”…

Papa Osprey was perched right where he always used to be, on the edge of his nest! And he was looking at me. Approvingly, I thought. Like saying nice to see you’re exercising in this heat. So we enjoyed each other’s company quietly for a good while. He even allowed me to walk right under the nest without saying a peep.

papa osprey at the nest 0812 Clearwater, FL
Check the underside of the nest, fairly heavy stuff…

That was a nod of trust right there! He was in no hurry to leave, but I had to get back home and back to work. So I continued my run through the park and the beach. When I finally came home, I took my birding binoculars and went straight onto the terrace. To check if he was still there. Can you guess what I saw?

papa osprey lifting sticks
Papa Osprey inspecting the nest and finding it in need of repair…
maintenance papa osprey
And this needs to go here…

Papa Osprey was doing maintenance work on the nest! Busy moving big sticks and twigs, then securing them better. Structural adjustments. I was too tired to set up my tripod so the quality is grainy from camera shake, but you can see him demonstrating great maintenance skills. He couldn’t allow the nest to fall apart. It would be their home again come January.  He undertook maintenance work in the summer heat. Needless to say I was impressed.

papa osprey saying hi 813 clearwater, FL
Hi Tiny, you want a picture?

I saw him again on today’s run, perched on a lamp post next to the bay. He posed nicely for about a minute, as if waiting for me to take the picture. Then he flew up and soared high above the bay.

papa osprey in flight 813d
Papa Osprey soaring over the bay…

I felt like soaring too. Little lighter on my foot. That’s what a “medicine bird” (in Nez Perce tribe’s mythology) does to you.