Tag Archives: Hurricane

From My Diary. Fall 2017.

Hi there. This is Dylan. Long time no see. And a lot has happened since then. Not all good.

In July dad went to heaven. One day he was here, the next day he was gone. All his things and clothes remained just where he’d left them. His smell was still here. He left without taking anything with him. And he didn’t tell me he was going. Like mom, I’ve been very sad about that. I remember the love he gave me. The back and tummy rubs. And the silly routines we had perfected together. I’m trying to teach mom, but she’s a slow learner. It will take time for her to grasp everything. Dad was a natural. I miss him.

Dylan sadI have a bout of separation anxiety every time mom leaves home without me. I know exactly when she’s planning to leave. And even the thought makes me fearful. Already before she grabs her purse I’m busy hoping she’ll come back. And not go to heaven like dad. To help my anxiety, mom bought me a Thunderskirt. I have to admit that while I don’t like clothes in general, that one makes me feel a bit safer. And it’s warm too. Just right for days like today when it’s windy and almost freezing. Only 55F/13C.

Dylan in Thunderskirt_edited-1And then a hurricane hit our area in early September, the first in almost 100 years. I was not born at the time of the last hurricane, but mom might remember it. Anyway, we took an impromptu trip to Philly. Just hopped on an airplane and left. That was quite an adventure.

philly studio ud137_edited-2It was my first time to fly. The security check was easy, I had a tick mark on my ticket so I just ran through the metal detector before mom. Then I checked out the Admirals Club, but there were no dog treats. Mom gave me a small piece of cheese. Then I flew like a pro. To tell you the truth you don’t actually need to fly. The big metal crate has large wings and it does all the work. You just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Dylan flying_edited-3The hardest thing on this trip was to go to the restaurants with our friends. I had to lie low and be quiet in the booth next to mom. I smelled chicken, bacon, cheese, you name it, but had to keep my head down. No sniffing. It was hard. But somehow I rose to the occasion. Nobody even knew I was there. Right, Gladys?

I have to tell you that I’ve never seen so many geese in my life. They patrolled the vicinity of our hotel every day. Again, I had to practice self-discipline.

Canada geese in Philly_edited-1All in all, it was a great trip. I realized I like to travel. And I hope mom gets me a frequent flyer card. Oh wait, that might not be such a great idea when I think about it. Smells like a double-edged sword. With more miles mom might travel even more. And there’s no guarantee she’d take me everywhere. Like earlier in the fall and again recently. You know, she’s been away twice in the last three weeks. First time she told me she’s going to look for a new home for us. New home? What does that mean? I love my home, my sitter and all my friends, like Bentley and others, at the dog park. I’m not moving. Full stop.

Bentley_edited-1I have to come up with an emergency plan to get that out of her head. All tips are welcome. I just hope it’s not too late.

After coming back, mom took me for a nice outing. We went to see some birds at Fort de Soto Park. We walked the trails near the beaches and found many different birds, big and small.

two willets FDS_edited-1

snowy egret FDS

GBH at FDS

ruddy turnstone FDSBut the most interesting part of the trip was sniffing around at the old fort. By far. The smells were fascinating. Markings of dogs long gone mixed with faint traces of gun powder around the old canons. I like that stuff.

canon and osprey FDS

canon at FDSThen we found another fort. And the soldiers were still there. Mostly pelicans and cormorants. They were guarding the island. Who knows what might come from the sea.

pelicans FDS

skyway bridge FDSOne pelican even gave me the look. Like questioning my right to be there.

pelican at FDSAt the end of the day I was happy, but exhausted and hungry. My dinner time was dangerously close. But mom said she didn’t want to leave before she found at least one osprey. Right away I pointed out several of them for her. They were pretty far away, but she should have spotted them. Then we finally drove back home. And I got my dinner 30 minutes late.

osprey FDS This past week mom left again. For work, she said. That word always sounds iffy to me. I don’t like anything that smells work. Bad smell right off the bat. I suspect she was doing sightseeing. Who can work four days in a row anyway? Impossible. And my hunch proved right. I caught her looking at pictures that didn’t look like work. Even I recognize the building. I watch the news. MSM. And mom’s not working at the White House, is she? I hope not. But here’s the evidence that she was there. Both day and night. Sometimes she’s so difficult to read.

white house DC

white house at night DC_edited-2

national xmas tree day time DC

national xmas tree at night DCWhatever the whole truth, the main thing is she came back. That she’s here now. Giving me tummy rubs. I just hope this lasts for a while.

Take care now. With love, Dylan

Return of the Mayor. And Other Salt Marsh News.

Before Hurricane Irma visited the salt marsh in early September, all the resident birds evacuated prompted by their natural instincts. The marsh was already deserted when I was still trying to get tickets out of here for Dylan and myself…and the sun was still shining. It was eerily quiet. The mandatory evacuation orders for human residents on this barrier island did not have the same effect. Many stayed to ride out the storm.

Salt marsh before Irma UD141I have to say the salt marsh fared quite well. Most of the old, tall trees are still standing. But the debris took weeks to clear out.

salt marsh debris after Irma ud141

Irma debris at the salt marsh ud141

salt marsh after Irma ud141When I visited the park on my day at home between the storm and my trip to Europe, there were no birds. They had all stayed at their evacuation resorts. Apart from one.

papa osprey right after the storm ud141.jpgPapa Stanley was perching at the sailing center. He had returned to check out his forest and his home. Or maybe he was looking for Mama Sandy. I’m pretty sure he saw the nest had not been damaged…before he took off again.

Irma 2017 ud141When I came back from my trip in October most of the debris had been hauled away and I found this ‘monument’ at a small clearing where several trees had fallen. But only a couple of birds had returned. Among those Mama Sandy. She was perching at the nest looking a bit tousled, very serious and definitely wet. It was good to see that she, too, had made it through the storm. But now Papa Stanley was nowhere to be seen.

mama osprey after Irma ud141A lonely Tri-colored Heron was trying to figure out how to find something to eat despite the still very high water levels at the marsh. And that was it. The evacuees were slow to return.

tricolored heron ud141Late that evening, Dylan and I spotted the young Great Blue Heron on the bay. He too seemed to wonder where everyone had gone.

younger GBH UD141And so it continued for about three weeks. I started to get worried about Papa Stanley. He had made it through Irma’s 120 m/h wind gusts, but why was he not home? And where were all the other residents, including the Mayor, the Clown and Miss Rosa?

papa and mama osprey are at home ud141Then one morning in early November I looked out of my office window and discovered a large gathering at the marsh. That was a great sight…and out I ran to witness the return of the evacuees and the migrating visitors.

The first birds I spotted were Papa Stanley (yay!) and Mama Sandy. They were having a mid-morning snack, perhaps following a joint fishing trip. Papa was perching on a lamp-post and Mama at the nest. And they were keeping an eye on each other.

papa osprey eats and looks at mama osprey ud141

mama osprey at the nest 16x9 ud141Finally the marsh was busy. Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Ibis, Wood Storks and others.

younger GBH and visitor wood storks ud141The younger GBH, who now looks very much like the Mayor, was patrolling the waters in his typical manner, pretending to be the boss. Some of the Wood Storks gave him the look.

wood stork ud141That’s when I saw a familiar fellow in the corner of my eye. The Mayor had returned! He was foraging far away, completely undisturbed.

the great blue heron Mayor fishing ud141_edited-2Knowing the history of these two, I thought things might get interesting. And before long, the Mayor discovered his young rival. He decided to check on the youngster.

the GBH Mayor moves in ud141_edited-2The young fellow noticed the developments. But he didn’t back off from his newly acquired position of power. Looking determined he continued his march…

young GBH ud141

younger GBH discovers mayor ud141… until he realized the Mayor was running on water. And closing in on him.

GBH ud141The Mayor took a detour onto a grassy islet, but continued his approach with determination.

the mayor ud141Tension was building. Everybody was watching.

three wood storksThat’s when I discovered that the Reddish Egret, the Clown, had returned. He was not performing his usual tricks. Instead, he stood frozen in place under some mangroves. Watching.

reddish egret ud141The little Snowy Egret, who was hiding in the grass close to the scene, decided it was better to keep some distance. One never knew what could happen.

a snowy egret ud141

snowy egret flies away ud141The Mayor continued his march, and finally the two ‘great blues’ were face to face.

young and old GBH face to face UD141And this is what happened…

The old Mayor still has the spark. The younger GBH ended up on dry land, his feathers all buffed up. He quickly assessed the situation – and walked away. Everyone seems to prefer it that way.

younger GBH ud141 A couple of days ago, Dylan and I went to the dog park in the middle of the day…and found the same crowd at the marsh – minus the younger ‘great blue’. The party was still going on. The Clown discovered my camera and decided to perform an elaborate bathing ritual for his captive audience.

Reddish Egret the Clown ud141

Reddish Egret takes a bath ud141

reddish egret sits in the water ud141We left this delightful ‘photobomber’ happily sitting in the shallow water. Normalcy has returned to the salt marsh.

mourning dove ud141Some of you may wonder what happened to Miss Rosa. I was pondering that too, until the other night. Dylan and I discovered her all alone at the marsh at sunset time. And she was there even last night. She is definitely back home too.

Miss Rosa the Roseate Spoonbill at sunset_edited-1Opening my terrace door this morning, I discovered that both Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley were at the nest. That was remarkable. But Stanley’s early visit didn’t last long. Sandy told him in no uncertain terms to wait at least 4-5 more weeks. And promptly chased him away. He will be allowed in the nest only after a proposal dance and a special gift delivery. Traditions have to be respected. And everything has its right time.

mama osprey chases papa away from the nest ud141I noted that Irma, however powerful, had not been able to sweep the nest clean of building materials Sandy had put in place last year. But this couple will still need to do quite a bit of remodeling when the nesting season starts at the end of December.

With that, we all wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. And peace.

Moon Happy Thsnksgiving

 

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.

 

Baths and Mirrors. Open and Closed.

The salt marsh is still closed after the flooding from Hurricane Hermine. Only the birds can fly in there at the moment. But it appears  almost deserted (looking out from my terrace) apart from a few Ibis foraging in the grass and a couple of large Wood Storks. The water levels are still too high for ‘normal sized’ wading birds to find food. Even the ‘lake’ formed by the heavy rains on the beach is still too deep for the birds to enjoy it. Or for me to walk through there to the salt marsh. So yesterday I visited the bay side with Dylan. That beach is open.

willet-taking-a-bath-ud78I found a couple of birds bathing in the puddles formed on the beach, a Willet and a Royal Tern.

tern-bath-ud78And a bit further on the bay, a Brown Pelican was enjoying a refreshing bath.

pelican-bird-bathing-3-ud78As I am not able to get any new pictures of other feathered friends at the moment, I thought I would dig in my archives for some images for this week’s photo challenge. It is all about reflections. And I found a handful of pictures presenting the salt marsh and some of its residents – in the mirror.

The first one is from spring of 2014, when Mama Osprey had hung a fish to bake in the sun. Remember that? You can see it dangling from a blue rope under the nest upside down, reflected in the water.

osprey nest reflection sunrise UD78.jpgThen I found images of the Great Egret, the Snowy Egret, the young Great Blue Heron…and Miss Rosa. All these are taken around sunrise early in the morning, when the marsh waters usually are calm like a mirror.

great-egret-reflection-at-sunrise-ud78

snowy-egret-reflection-at-sunrise-ud78

young-blue-heron-ud78

roseate-spoonbill-at-sunrise-ud78Some of you may have noticed the baby-like chubbiness of the young Great Blue Heron 🙂 He sure looks a bit more adult-like today.

I hope Hermine was more lenient in other areas it visited on its way up the east coast. And I hope to be able to get into the salt marsh late in the week or next weekend to check on the residents. Best wishes for a great week to all of you.