Tag Archives: Ocean

Goodbye Bubbette. Hello Vacation Time.

Last week was busy. After a few days of work in D.C. I came home, turned around and drove to North Florida for my son’s graduation. When I came back, I realized our osprey girl, Bubbette, had already left the nest. She didn’t wait for me, but that was not surprising. She was an advanced flier from the get go and spent her days diligently attending the Fishing School with Papa Stanley.

I also noticed that the whole osprey family had left the area. This happens every year at the time when a chick leaves the nest. The first year I observed this, I thought Sandy and Stanley had flown off to take a well-deserved vacation in the Caribbean. But now my theory is different. I believe that one or both parents follow the chick for a while to keep an eye on their fishing ability…and to teach them more if needed. So the nest has been empty, apart from the Blue Jay visiting from time to time.

empty osprey nest ud163Papa Stanley returned a couple of days ago, and I can now see him perching every evening on the Sailing Center’s wind device, one of his favorite places after the nesting season. I first spotted him while taking pictures of the bay just before a late afternoon storm. Can you spot him in the first picture below?

the bay before storm ud163

papa osprey ud163Mama Sandy is still gone. Usually she returns back home in about two to three weeks. Anyway, I wish Bubbette a wonderful life with plenty of fish to go around. May she be skilled enough to survive the first very tough year, and then live happily for the next 15-20 years!

I want to share a few pictures from my adventure on the Atlantic Beach last Friday. You see, this night owl was invited to tag along on a Sea Turtle Patrol. That was a four mile walk on the beach, just before and after the sunrise, to check if Mama Leatherback (world’s largest turtle) or Mama Loggerhead had laid any eggs overnight. Both nest on this beach. We arrived there before the sunrise, just when the sky started to get some color, but we could still clearly see the lights from the boats on the ocean.

first light UD163We started walking close to the water line, watching for any trails in the sand left by mama turtles. I snapped pictures of the gorgeous colors ‚Ķ thanks Mary for this evidence of the night owl being up before sunrise ūüôā And soon the sun was up.

Tiny takes pictures ud163

sunrise at jax beach ud163

sun is up on Jax beach ud163We didn’t find any fresh signs of new nests, but inspected a nest from the previous night. It was high up among the dunes.

Turtle nest ud163Mary showed me the trails in the sand. How Mama Loggerhead had come up to lay her eggs and how she had gone back to the sea.

Turtle patrol 2 ud163She has been patrolling the beaches for several years now and knows all about these sea turtles. I learned a lot that morning. I appreciate and admire the work all the volunteers do to protect these nests…and later in the summer/fall to make sure the tiny hatchlings find their way to the ocean.

laughing gulls on jax beach UD163The morning was beautiful and we spotted many Laughing Gulls and various terns on the sand bars revealed by the low tide. Some had already been fishing in the golden waters.

laughing gull fishing UD163As the morning progressed more tidal pools were forming on the beach attracting fishermen, joggers and people with dogs. What a beautiful morning!

tidal pools 2 UD163In a couple of days I will be traveling to visit family and friends in Northern Europe for the month of July. This time I will be fully connected and plan to send some ‘postcards’ to my friends here along the way and do some reading too. Thank you for visiting and take care now.

Silence is an Ocean – Rumi. (WPC Five Images)

Nothing’s happening
Yet everything is here Now
I breathe in silence.

silence at sunrise ud149

I wait in silence
For a small sign from above
To take the next step.

silence on a sand bar ud149

The day goes to sleep
Never to wake up again
Blue silence remains.

silence in the blue hour ud149

Life crafts miracles
In the silence of the night
I trust and exhale.

silence at night ud149_edited-1

 

Snapshots of the Now. Waiting.

I have finally reached the point on my journey to acceptance of what happened in July, where I would love to get back to blogging. But I am not ready to write my usual ‘light touch’ nature stories. Nor have I been able to engage in photography like I used to. Or to focus on reading.

I have realized, however, that life is a string of snapshots of the now. I will be attempting to post frequent snapshots of my life ‘now’ as it unfolds for the next few weeks. Maybe just an iPhone shot, a short poem or something similar. Simple. Often mobile. Comments closed.

To get started, I am sharing a few snapshots of my life in the past two weeks.

Waiting for some dolphins to appear on the Labor Day weekend, when Hurricane Irma was still churning far out on the Atlantic.

labor day 2 watching dolphins ud137.jpgAnd they did…playful as ever. Good times. Grief slowly fading into the background.

labor day 2 dolphin ud137And then there was the quiet before the storm. Calm seas. An eerily beautiful seascape on a perfect day. But nobody was enjoying it. The lonely lifeguard shack was waiting to be moved to safety. Like most of us.

beach view before Irma ud137This peaceful scene was in sharp contrast to my frantic search for a flight to get out of here with Dylan. Paradise in Zone A. Mandatory evacuation.

I have crisscrossed the globe, but seldom been happier to finally see a plane at the gate. One of the last planes to leave the airport before it would be closed. Our temporary home would be wherever that plane flew. A ticket to anywhere.AA plane ud137Flashback. The last plane out from Addis Ababa at war. 1990s. A week after husband and son had been evacuated. Essential personnel.

philly studio ud137_edited-1A small studio apartment at a hotel in Philly. Waiting with Dylan and Wolf Blitzer. Wanting to go home. Whatever that might mean. Waiting.

Snapshots of the Now Series (1)

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 ūüôā

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 ūüėČ

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.

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. РRumi

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.‚ÄĚ – 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.       РRichard H. Baker

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

Happy Place – WPC (11 Images)

Happy place. I taste the words. A place where I feel happy. Where I go to let go of stress and frustrations. And worries. A place where I can laugh or cry. And where my soul can rest.

There are many such places, I realize. For different uses. But all my happy places have one thing in common. Water. On the water. Near the water.

There are everyday happy places right here at home. Like standing barefoot in the shallow water watching the sun dive into the Gulf. Or a catamaran sail into the sunset.

sunset on sat ud26 sunset sail ud26Or sitting on “my” bench next to the deep water¬†at the salt marsh, listening to Mockingbird’s song and watching Mama Osprey enjoy her garden.

salt marsh next to the osprey nest HPmama osprey in the nest UD26

These are everyday happy places. Places to run to whenever I feel in need of soothing stillness surrounded by nature.

And then there are special happy places. Treats of complete happiness not enjoyed every day. Like an afternoon on a small island inhabited only by birds and dolphins.  Or a day spent on the water with family.

3 rooker bar island boat hp

Or hikes on old, unspoiled islands. Diving into happiness as it used to be long before my time. Special treats of happy.

caladesi island beach hphiking 2 on caladesi hp

And then there are forever happy places. Places with traces of my short history here on earth. Places that remember me. From the time my tiny feet felt the cool water for the first time. Where I return to find peace. Sitting on a rock alone with the moon. Enveloped in warmth on a summer night.

Lake in the fall hp

I wish you all a happy week.  Wherever your happy place might be. You can find other responses to this challenge here.

Connection – A Poem

It’s in the evening I see them. The sand crabs. Hurrying home from the day’s work. When the voice of the wind has become a¬†barely audible whisper. And the ocean is almost still. I watch¬†Mother Nature¬†go to rest.

black skimmer in flight Ud24

As the birds arrive home from their last flights, I sigh. Exhale all my worries. Dip my toes in the water, and feel the peace. Soul-deep gratitude to be alive. At this moment of connection to pure love.

Search and Rescue. And Storms over the Salt Marsh.

Wishes do come true. Erica, the tropical storm, died last Saturday. But she left a large blob of moisture churning on the Gulf. And that brought strong storms over our area late last week and early this week. The “beach lake” was reborn, and there are some fresh water pools in the park around the salt marsh. But luckily no bad flooding.

Early in the week, I managed to get in a couple of walks just before the storms rolled in. While the bay bathed in sunshine under blue skies both mornings, the storm clouds were gathering on the ocean.

Clearwater BayMama Sandy hasn’t visited the nest much lately, but I’ve usually found her somewhere on the bay side. One of these mornings she was having breakfast on a lamp-post, but keeping a keen eye on the skies at the same time. She seemed to be in a hurry.

Female Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaFemale Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaYou see, she was aware of Papa Stanley circling high in the skies with another Osprey. First I thought his pal Steve might have returned, but then managed to get a couple of pictures that proved me wrong. It was a juvenile! Likely one of their chicks, but it was impossible to tell for sure which one. I was betting on Lofty.

Juvenile Osprey Sand Key Clearwater Florida Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaAfter finishing her breakfast Sandy joined them over the bay. She was talking non stop. Maybe she was telling them to focus on getting breakfast before the storms would roll in. Who knows. But Stanley obliged.

Female Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaI noticed (from very far) that he flew back to Marriott and took up a scanning position on the lower roof.

Male Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaI also saw a woodpecker family on the bay side. It might have been the same couple of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who nested in the demolished “condo building”. Now there was a new juvenile in the family.

redbellied woodpecker Sand Key Clearwater FloridaAnd since I also had my eye on the sky, I decided to leave a proper visit to the salt marsh for later. And soon was happy I did. An impressive thunderstorm rolled in.

The next morning I found only Sandy. She had decided to borrow Stanley’s resort to keep an eye on the approaching storms. And on me. That penthouse has the best views. Stanley may have embarked on a fishing trip little further out. Perhaps a father and son outing with Lofty.

Female Osprey Sand Key Clearwater FloridaI decided to tempt my fate and visit the salt marsh. But it was practically deserted. There was an eerie silence. No bird song, no nothing. The birds had already gone to their rain shelters in anticipation of the storm. The only one seemingly still around was the young GBH. His head stuck up from the high grass as he peered towards the ocean.

young great blue heron Sand Key Clearwater FloridaThen I heard Papa Moorhen.  I spotted him hauling heavy materials to reinforce the family home. Last-minute preparations for the impending storm.

moorhen repairing nest

Just before I reached the beach, I almost stumbled on a young Sandwich Tern. She was laying in the grass next to the trail. She looked away when I approached, but didn’t move. I thought it was odd for her to be there alone when all the other birds had sought shelter. I snapped a couple of pictures of her, and then ran (yes, ran) home through the flooded beach.

rainbow over the ocean Sand Key Clearwater FloridaIt was already raining on the ocean so I decided to take a shortcut through some trees and bushes into our garden. But failed to jump all the way over the ditch, or rather a newly formed four-foot wide “river”.  My old hiking shoes got a through soaking, but luckily I didn’t land on my tummy in the water. Then the first fat rain drops fell on me. The storm was upon us.

Once safely inside, I sat down at my laptop, had my second cup of coffee, and looked at the pictures. This is what I saw.

sandwich ternThe little tern had a fishing hook sticking out of her mouth. And it had also pierced her throat. She couldn’t even close her beak, and must’ve been in terrible pain. I hadn’t noticed the hook when I saw her, and now she was out there in the storm badly injured by human activity.storm over salt marsh Sand Key Clearwater FloridaTo make a long story short, I reached my friend, the Ranger, on the phone. She is also a bird rescuer. I told her about the little tern and where she’d been when I spotted her. The Ranger went out to look for her. About fifteen minutes later I got a call from her. The little tern had been found and was on her way to the vet. The Ranger told me she’d seen fishing hooks in birds many times, but never one so badly tangled into the skin.

little tern So there would be a small surgery, and maybe some recuperation time at the sanctuary. But this little tern would make it. Yay!

On that happy note I wish you all a great weekend ahead.

The Record Breaking Fishing Trip. And the Joy of a Bath.

I was still quite far away.¬† But could see two dark brown spots with white crowns¬†against the early morning bright blue sky.¬†My two¬†favorite Ospreys. I hadn’t spotted Mama Sandy or Papa Stanley for quite a few days, and was¬†getting worried about the nasty wound¬†Sandy had on her¬†leg last week. But there they were, peering down into the bay waters from the roof of Marriott Resort.

mama and papa osprey ud22I was walking closer. Suddenly I saw the one on the lower roof fall straight down.¬†Immediately followed by a loud call from the roof top. It looked like a free fall, wings pointing straight up.¬†I stopped in my tracks, but couldn’t see the surface of the water from where I was.¬†I scanned the sky over the bay. And there it was, against the rising sun, a silhouette of an Osprey flying back on shore with a fish. I took a blind shot. Just as evidence of the fastest catch I’ve witnessed. Ten, maybe fifteen¬†seconds tops.

mama osprey with a fish ud22Now I had to find out who it was. And where the breakfast would be served. Although I was on my way back home after a two and a half mile walk, I turned around and retraced my steps back towards the Sailing Center. Then I saw it.

raven and Mama osprey ud22

An Osprey eating breakfast on a lamp-post quite far away. With a helpful cleaning crew close by. I was too tired to walk all the way to the lamp-post to¬†be on¬†the “right” side of the sun light. So I just zoomed all out. And saw it was Sandy. Her wound was still faintly visible, but healing well. What a relief!

Happy after seeing her lightning fast dive, I walked back towards the resort. And found Stanley peering down too. At me.

papa osprey scanning on Marriotts roof ud22

He seemed to enjoy his spot on the top of the world. Instead of taking care of sick Sandy in some secret location, like I had feared. I smiled at the thought, and hoped to catch his breakfast dive. But it soon became clear to me that he was not in a hurry. He was more interested in watching me at the parking lot below than scanning for fish in the bay. So I decided to remove the distraction and walk home. Stanley could get his breakfast. And I could get my second cup of coffee.

Around mid-week I took another walk later in the day, and started at the salt marsh. Lots of Great Egrets were enjoying the quiet afternoon.

great egret reflection ud22two great egrets ud22

And I also spotted both the Mayor and the younger Great Blue Heron.

older blue heron ud22great egret and the young blue heron ud22

Rosa was¬†at home¬†too. She always volunteers a nice pose, doesn’t she?¬†A Black-crowned Night Heron was in deep meditation. Or maybe just thinking of breakfast.

miss rosa ud22blackcrowned Night Heron UD22

From there I walked to the beach. And had the pleasure of the company of an American Oystercather and a few Brown Pelicans.

American oystercatcher ud22

I noticed the¬†high tide¬†had made a temporary swimming pool by building an extra sand bank between the¬†beach and the ocean. I watched a Royal Tern thoroughly enjoy¬†her¬†bath. I prepared a gif image to let her show you how it’s done (if the gif doesn’t play, please click on the image).

tern bath gif

Little later, the sun started her dive into the ocean, offering brilliant colors on the evening sky.

sunset in aug ud22sunset and girl 16x9 ud22I wish everyone a great weekend, and hope T.S. Erica doesn’t invite herself¬†to visit the salt marsh early next week. We don’t want to¬†meet her.

Much love, Tiny