Tag Archives: Fish

Multitasking. On Wings and on Foot.

Hi everybody! I can’t believe I’ve been absent from here since mid August. Life has been overly busy since I returned from my summer vacation in Sweden. That doesn’t mean it’s been all work, not by a long shot. Lots of fun with family and friends too. But time has wings. And the faster they flap, the more difficult it becomes to slow down and pause.

After checking on our salt marsh friends this morning I decided it was time to sit down, pause and reflect back on my late summer adventures. So here it is. A long hodgepodge of birds, rhinos, sea creatures, travels and reflections.

Grandkids ud170I’ve been lucky to spend quite a bit of time, on several occasions, with ‘my girls’. They have an incredible curiosity and desire to discover – and the energy to match. So we’ve been on ‘safari’ in Busch Gardens observing the rhino family, mom, toddler and dad…

baby rhino and mama ud170

rhino ud170… lots of stripy zebras and numerous different antelopes …

zebra ud170

antelopes ud170…and several families of giraffes.

two giraffes UD170Even some beautiful flamingos.

flamingo UD170That was a full 12 h day of countless rides and animals! Fireworks at the end of the day, both literally and figuratively. Some of us slept already on the way home.

fireworks at busch gardens UD170On another occasion it was time to explore the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. To our delight they had tropical gardens where some ‘duckies’ and familiar shore birds could come and go as they pleased.

wood duck and moorhen ud170

male ruddy duck UD170

tri-colored heron ud170

adult roseate spoonbill UD170And the underwater world was full of wonders from sharks and numerous other fish species to sea turtles and other small and big creatures.

shark FL aquarium ud170

stringray UD170

sea turtle 16x9 ud170

florida aquarium ud170

jelly fish 2 UD170

giant lobster ud170A fascinating world of its own….followed by other adventures at the children’s museum and elsewhere. All these excursions provided welcome breaks from work that has intruded my world a bit more than I had bargained for…but it’s all good. Although I work mostly from my home office with a view of the ocean, the bayside and the salt marsh, I have also been traveling. Last week, for example, I worked in the Big Apple. Right in midtown Manhattan where the sun only reaches the ground in small spots between the skyscrapers.

Manhattan midtown ud170

Midtown manhattan workplace ud170

It is, indeed, a city that never sleeps. And it’s a city of travelers from all around the world. Convoys of carry-on pieces walk the streets intercepted occasionally by jugglers of larger luggage.

traveller NYC ud170

And the yellow taxis are still there. Racing up and down the streets alongside with Uber drivers in black SUVs.

taxis ny ud170

I didn’t have time for sight-seeing, but walking the streets to and from my meetings I observed the diversity of buildings lining the streets. Glass towers that reflected the skies next to older buildings with some character, intricate details and windows into the soul of the city…

manhattan midtwon skyscrapers UD170

new and old in NYC ud170

detail of old building in NYC ud170

window ny ud170

And I realized I could see it all captured on the façades of the glass towers…

NYC reflections UD170

Is it all stone and glass? No it isn’t. It’s a melting pot of everything. People from all over, food and drink from every corner of the world and … dogs patiently looking for that little green patch. Or just happily posing for a photographer and making her smile.

dog ny ud170

In the coming months I’ll have a more opportunities to rediscover the spirit of this place, such a contrast to what I am used to here on the beach. Talking of home, I have to tell you that Dylan and I have discovered a new park, not far from home, to walk in. It’s been hot, but the other day we ventured there for a short stroll between thunder storms.

lake at Taylor Park ud170

This park has a beautiful small lake and you can walk around it. Even in the afternoon heat we spotted some familiar birds: a Great Egret, a young Little Blue Heron, several Moorhen and Anhinga.

Great egret at Taylor Park ud170

young little blue heron 2 at Taylor Park ud170

Moorhen at Taylor Park ud170

anhinga 2 ud170Once it gets cooler, we’ll visit this park more regularly, but for now we walk right here in the neighborhood.

I have to tell you that I’ve been worried about Mama Osprey. While I had seen Papa perching at the Sailing Center in the evenings, I hadn’t seen her since I returned from Sweden. So this morning I decided that we would go out soon after sunrise and look for her.

mama osprey at sunrise ud170

Because she has not been perching at the nest like she has done the previous summers, I decided to walk on the bayside. Right off the bat we discovered Papa Stanley on his favorite perch at the Sailing Center. He nodded a friendly greeting as in wondering where we’d been.

papa osprey at sailing center ud170

Then I looked around for Mama Sandy. She was nowhere to be seen….until I trained my camera on the small spot at the far end of the pier.

mama osprey at sailing center ud170

There she was! In the company of a pelican and some gulls. And I happily took her portrait in the golden haze of the rising sun.

mama osprey ud170From there we walked to the salt marsh and discovered it was quite lively after several months of little activity. I was delighted to see the Mayor in his slightly untidy office again.

mayor the older GBH in his office ud170He was proudly surveying his village. I noticed that Great Egrets were back from their summer vacation in big numbers and so were the smaller Snowy Egrets. The grass was so tall that it was difficult to get good shots of them.

Great egret ud170

snowy egret ud170Suddenly we saw that the Mayor flew up to a higher branch and trained his eyes on something.

the older gbh mayor ud170We walked a bit closer…and noticed that Harry, the younger GBH, was walking towards a group of egrets exercising his self-appointed authority…

Young GBH and a great egret UD170He glanced at the Mayor and noticed he was under surveillance. He knew from previous experience how such a confrontation would end, so he stopped at his tracks, turned around and walked away. We walked home too. I was happy to have spotted both osprey parents and realized that the new nesting season is only three months away.

Dylan and I wish you all happy fall days.

Breakfast in Bed. Now It’s Official.

Yesterday morning I lifted my eyes from the vector graphics on a complex analysis I was doing for work, and glanced out from my office window towards the Osprey nest. Did I overdo it at my computer and had double vision? I saw two white heads in the nest. I went to fetch my birding binoculars, then my camera…and yay! No double vision, but two Ospreys in the nest.

mama and papa osprey in the nest first time ud39Sandy was half asleep with a partially eaten fish in her talons, and Stanley was in protection mode at the front of the nest. It must have been an early breakfast-in-bed proposal scenario. Sandy had finally gotten her gift! The nesting season 2016 had officially started. And I just had to get out there. Right then. So I left my work, gathered my stuff and jogged straight to the salt marsh.

mama osprey sleeps papa osprey watches ud39And there they were, the love birds. Sandy was still sleeping and Stanley was still checking the environment, including me.  I liked what I saw.

While I was standing close to the nest, I noticed a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron. She was standing on the water installation and staring down into the water, all puffed up.

juvenile yellow-crowned night heron ud39And that’s when I saw them. Two tarpons, 2-3 feet long, were swimming close to the surface of the deep water below the nest.

tarpon in salt marsh ud39They looked huge in that small body of water. Far too much for the young Night Heron, and even for the Ospreys. But then everything is relative. Tarpons can grow to a length of 8 feet and weigh up to 280 pounds. These two fellows captured Stanley’s interest too. He glanced down at them, and then looked at me as in saying these guys are far too big, right?

papa osprey looks down at fish ud39He knows he can carry a fish up to two times his own weight, which would be about 3.5-4.4 pounds. And these were much bigger.

Everybody else noticed them too. Daddy Night Heron stared down into the water from his perch in a nearby tree.

yellow-crowned Night Heron ud39A Snowy Egret on a lower branch got really upset, and gave a loud warning when one of the tarpons jumped up from the water at the shallow end of the pond.

snowy egret is really upset ud39So did Miss Rosa. She had been sleeping and was woken up by all the commotion. She ran further away from the water.

roseate spoonbill shouting ud39The one seemingly not bothered by the appearance of the two visitors was the Mayor. He was back from his Christmas holiday, surveying the marsh leisurely next to his favorite islet.

great blue heron Mayor ud39A large flock of White Ibis was foraging further out in the park. They were not bothered either.

a flock of white ibis ud39After quickly walking around the marsh, I  approached the deep end again. Peace had now returned. Miss Rosa had calmed down, and so had the Snowy Egret.  He was busy cleaning his gorgeous plumage.

roseate spoonbill ud39snowy egret ud39The juvenile Night Heron was still looking a bit wary, but her daddy had already fallen back to sleep.

older juvenile yellow-crowned night heron ud39But Mama Sandy had woken up. She was working on her big fish again.

mama osprey eats papa osprey watches ud39Moorhens were back cruising the deep water, and life had assumed its normal peaceful ways at the salt marsh, on one of the last days of the year.

mama moorhen reflection ud39I returned to my work confident that the new year will bring many new adventures. Happy New Year to everyone! And thank you for being here. Much love, Tiny & co.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion in Nature (9 Images)

This week’s DP photo challenge is “motion”.  Since I love to capture motion in our precious natural environment, I thought it’d be fun to participate. So here are some images representing four different types of motion in nature. In addition to the butt-shaking, water spraying motion demonstrated by Mama Osprey in the featured image.

I hope your week has started well.

Slow motion.  Enjoyable, hardly noticeable, purposeful. Often lovable.

mama and baby bottlenose dolphin slowly gliding by Caladesi Island Florida
Mama and baby Bottlenose Dolphin glide slowly on the surface of the calm ocean.
mottled duck with ducklings Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Mottled Duck swims slowly with her ducklings in tow.

Quick motion. Fast and furious. Gone in a blink. Always momentary.

sandwich tern flying in the surf Sand Key Beach Clearwater Florida
A Sandwich Tern flies fast to get out of the furiously moving surf.
A great egret eats a fish sand key park clearwater Florida
A little fish pops extremely fast into the mouth of a Great Egret.

Accelerating motion. Rising. Upward. Onward. Often sudden and surprising.

A brown pelican takes off Sand Key Beach Clearwater Florida
A Brown Pelican takes off.
A Great Egret takes off Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
A Great Egret takes off.

Decelerating motion. Slow-down. Approach. Touch down. Most often anticipated.

Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns come in for landing.
papa osprey lands in the nest in Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Papa Osprey lands…for a romantic interlude a couple of months ago. Now he’s landing to feed three chicks 🙂

You can find other DP Weekly Photo Challenge entries on Motion here.

Baked Tilapia Anyone?

We learned to love Nile Tilapia when we lived in Uganda. This fish was the only one we could get guaranteed fresh every day. Now of course we have a huge variety of fresh fish and other sea food right here at our doorstep, and we can only get farm raised tilapia, but I still buy it every now and then. Normally I would just pan fry it (parmesan crusted!) and serve with small potatoes and a cold dill-based mayo-sour cream sauce, but last night I decided to prepare it in the oven. This is a recipe I created many years ago, but had not tried recently. It’s truly simple to make and guaranteed delicious! Here’s how I threw it all together.

As you may know from my previous cooking posts, I cook creatively from the ingredients I find in the fridge, so here’s what I had (for two people – you can scale it up by counting one large fillet per person and adding more wine, cream & cheese to the sauce):

3 small/medium-sized tilapia fillets

little less than 1/2 pint/2 dl cream

about 1/2 bag (4 oz/110 g) shredded part-skim mozzarella/Philadelphia cheese ( you can also use shredded swiss/Philadelphia mix or any light swiss cheese spread, like Laughing Cow wedges)

2 leeks

about 1/2 glass of white wine, and


First I preheated the oven to 350F/175C. Then seasoned the tilapia fillets with lemon pepper and lemon & herbs spices (add salt if needed), put them into an oven dish,  sprinkled over the leeks (cut in small pieces), poured in the white wine to almost cover the fish, and “pre-baked” the fish under lid for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, I prepared the cheese-cream sauce. I mixed 2 table spoons of flour (vary depending on how thick sauce you want) with olive oil, added the cream before the flour browned and then mixed in the cheese slowly. I let it all simmer together for a couple of minutes (you can add salt and pepper to taste if desired, I didn’t). The sauce should be very thick at this point.

When the tilapia had pre-baked, I took some of the liquid/wine and added it to the sauce to achieve desired consistency, and discarded most of the rest. Make sure you don’t leave too much wine around the fish – it doesn’t need to swim any more!  Next, I poured the sauce over the fillets and baked for an additional 25 minutes so that the cheese was lightly browned on the top.

You can serve this dish with wild or brown rice or small potatoes, sautéed asparagus and a fresh salad. I happened to have a few previously boiled small potatoes so I put them into the oven to heat up and sprinkled some of the shredded cheese on the top.

Very simple and yummy tilapia dinner. Enjoy!