Tag Archives: Weather

Time for Fishing Lessons. And Bracing for Colin.

On Saturday night the heat was oppressive, even close to 8 p.m. Dylan and I found the Osprey chick alone in the nest. Mama Sandy was no longer babysitting her. That means she has mastered flying and is ready for her fishing lessons. Now she was asking for fish, fish, fish! We continued to the doggy park so Dylan could run around with his pals.

When we walked back, the salt marsh looked completely deserted by birds. But Dylan spotted a Yellow-crowned Night Heron hiding in a tree next to the deep water. I’m sure he was hoping the night would bring some relief from the heat and he could go hunting.

yellow-crowned night heron UD 64The sun was about to dive into the ocean when we reached the Osprey nest. The chick was eating a big fish! Where did that come from?

osprey chick eats big fish 2 ud64The mystery was soon solved. Papa Stanley, still wet from his dive,  was perching on a lamp-post at the sailing center watching the chick. Just like he often did last year. Proud papa developing his parenting strategy. I’m sure he wants to make sure that the chick, to be named on Wednesday, will be ready for independence in the next few weeks weeks.

papa osprey watches chick ud64Late this morning, the thermometer read F92/C33 and the humidity was high. But I went out for a short walk to find out what was going on with the Osprey chick. You see, we’re under a tropical storm warning for tomorrow and Tuesday. And it will be impossible to go out. Although it’s unlikely that Colin will make landfall right here in the Tampa Bay area, all the rain will be on the east side of the center. Right over us. And we will certainly see tropical storm force winds too.

tropical storm colin 2 ud64

A juvenile Mourning Dove greeted me as soon as I got outside. She still had some of her baby feathers. I hoped she wouldn’t stay too long on the hot roof.

juvenile mourning dove ud64Approaching the salt marsh, I found the chick in the nest. It was almost 11 a.m. and she was asking for her brunch. None was forthcoming. You see, by no longer bringing in fish as frequently as they used to, Osprey parents want their chicks to get interested in an going to fishing school. And that’s what’s going on here too.

osprey chick asking for fish 2 ud64After a while, the chick flew out to check on her parents. And I walked around the marsh. I could hear many birds, but didn’t see them. They were all hiding from the heat in the bushes. Apart from the White Ibis. About eight of them were foraging in the grass.

white ibis ud64When I reached the nest again, I found the chick had not returned. I decided to go home. Right after crossing the street from the park to the bay side, I found Mama Sandy on a lamp-post next to the Sailing Center. She was wet from a cooling bath, and was looking towards the nest. Keeping an eye on the chick.

mama osprey keeps an eye on chick ud64That’s when I noticed the chick had returned – after flying around for about 20 minutes. I returned to see if she had a fish. She didn’t. Instead she continued to ask for her food. And checked on me too.

osprey chick waita for fish  2 ud64I waited with her. There was no delivery. I was feeling the heat and decided to walk home. While on the sidewalk, close to my home, I heard Osprey speak.

papa osprey calling for chick 2 16x9 ud64I raised my camera and zoomed out. I realized Papa Stanley was circling above the nest. He was asking the chick to come along for a fishing trip. The chick responded, but didn’t fly to her papa. So Stanley turned around and flew solo towards the ocean.

Papa Osprey waiting for chick 16x9 ud64I had to get inside to the comfort of our A/C.  Phew. Shortly afterwards it got windy, the sky darkened and it started raining. With my binoculars I could see the chick perching upright in the nest.

before the storm ud64At about 3 p.m. when there was a break in the rain, I looked outside and saw that Papa Stanley had finally brought a fish. He was perching at the edge of the nest and the chick was eating. I’m sure they had a chat about the necessity of fishing lessons sooner than later.

I am glad the chick can fly now. I hope she doesn’t stay in the nest, but hides from the storm somewhere safe with her parents. Who knows whether the platform will withstand Colin’s 50 m/h (80 km/h) winds. This ‘bird mama’ will certainly be looking out towards the nest many times in the next 48 hours. And will let you know how it all went down. Have a great week.

Water. Everywhere. And an Oversized Wading Bird at the Salt Marsh.

There is so much water everywhere.  But I promise you’ll not get soaked if you join me for a quick inspection of the lay of the land water at the salt marsh. And you can wear nice shoes too. Or like me, no shoes at all.

storm over the bay UD18

On Sunday afternoon we got a small break from the relentless storms that have stayed with us for the last couple of weeks. The sun even peeked through the clouds occasionally. A good time to get in some exercise, both for the past and the coming week. All in one walk.

flooding on the beach sand key clearwater Florida

I waded ankle-deep, at times almost knee-deep, through the new rainwater “lake” that had formed on the beach. And walked right into a lively shorebird conference at the beach side of the “lake”. Hundreds of participants.

birds on sand key clearwater Florida

Some were bathing, others had passionate conversations, and a few just enjoyed the brief spell of sunshine. Like the Black Skimmer who’d fallen asleep on the beach. His pal flew in to check on him. Calling loudly for him to wake up already.

black skimmer sand key clearwater Florida

black skimmer sleeping on the beach sand key clearwater Florida

He woke up eventually, and they joined the others at the “lake”.  A baby Black Skimmer, the first I’ve ever seen, was wading tummy deep in the water while his sleep deprived mother was nodding off nearby. But there wasn’t much to skim, yet, for anyone. Just plenty of fresh water.

juvenile black skimmer sand key clearwater florida mama black skimmer sleeping sand key clearwater Florida

From there I walked through a flooded path towards the salt marsh to check on the residents. I felt like an oversized wading bird, but without the ability to fly over the puddles.

Once at the marsh, I found the water level was much higher than I’d ever seen. Many small islets and all my favorite photo spots were now under water.

salt marsh under water sand key clearwater Floridamy photo spot under water sand key clearwater Florida

Only a few birds were out and about. The young Great Blue Heron was trying to peek over the tall grass, and a Tri-colored Heron was out fishing. Successfully.

young blue heron after the storm sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron hunting sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron hunting sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron hunting sand key clearwater Floridatricolored heron shakes off UD18I also spotted a small heron hiding in the partly submerged grass. My first thought was American Bittern, but after checking all my pictures of him, I now believe he was a juvenile Green Heron.

juvenile green heron sand key clearwater Florida

Some birds didn’t trust the weather man. They had stayed in their rain-shelters close to the Osprey nest. Like this Snowy Egret and the juvenile Night Heron with baby hairs.

snowy egret on a stormy day sand key clearwater Florida juvenile night heron sand key clearwater Florida snowy egret takes shelter in the storm sand key clearwater Florida

No sign of Mama or Papa Osprey. With all the lightning we’ve had, I wanted to see for myself they were okay. I decided to stretch my luck and go searching for them. Ignoring the fact that the next storm was already brewing in the skies. I walked towards Papa Stanley’s resort, and the minute I could see it, he flew in from the bay side.

male osprey sand key clearwater Florida

He was soaking wet, but had no fish. I was happy to see him safe and sound. And sure he’d catch a fish on his next dive.

papa osprey sand key clearwater Florida

As soon as Stanley had settled down, he turned his head and stared back towards the bay. That’s when I heard Mama Sandy. She was singing “I caught a fish, fish, fish”. I stepped back to the road side, and saw Sandy had landed on a lamp-post nearby. With a good-sized fish. They had been fishing together on the bay, but only Sandy had been lucky. I’ve long considered her a somewhat better fisher(wo)man than Stanley. Stanley is very good, but she’s master class.

female osprey with a fish sand key clearwater Florida

Sandy started eating her fish, and I wondered whether she would share some with Stanley. It was highly unlikely. And he didn’t ask for any either. In the Osprey world everyone fishes for themselves. Papa brings fish to Mama only when proposing to her, and when she’s incubating and raising small chicks. And both parents can bring fish to the chicks until they’re ready to start their independent lives.

osprey with a fish sand key clearwater FloridaIt was great to see both of them. I had to hurry home as it started raining gain. A few big drops at first, then buckets. And that pattern has continued. There’s no risk the salt marsh, or its stories, will dry up any time soon. Although it’s finally been sunny today. The first thunderstorm appeared only at dinner time.

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

WPC Forces of Nature: The Many Faces of Storms (9 Images)

This weeks DP Photo Challenge is “Forces of Nature”. Living close to the ocean and the intracoastal waters, I’ve snapped a few pictures of storms over the last few years. I find it fascinating how the light changes with the atmospherics of the storms. Here are a few images I’ve selected for this challenge.

storm over the bay WPC
The skies darken before the storm, but light is always there behind the clouds…
bay storm skies WPC
…even when “storm dogs” run wild in the skies…
…a window of light suddenly opens in the wall of rain over the ocean…
storm approaching the beach WPC
… and light acquires a mysterious quality when a storm approaches from the ocean…
stormy ocean waves WPC
..at other times there’s plenty of light, but the ocean is so angry it’s difficult to stand upright…
...and sometimes it rain so hard you can't go out to shoot anything at all...
…and many times there’s practically no light …and you can’t go out to shoot anything at all…
rainbow WPC
Then a rainbow shows up in the sky after the storm…
...and the birds get a rainwater bath on the flooded beach.
…and the birds get a bath in a newly formed “lake” on the flooded beach. The storm is over.

You can find other responses to the challenge here. Have a wonderful week. May your skies be sunny and bright.

Changing Horizons. Literally.

The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. – Christopher McCandless

Last night was gorgeous, clear skies and calm waters all around us.  The lights from the beach establishments reflected beautifully on the strait between the ocean and the bay at the north end of the nature reserve.

clearwater beach at night
The strait beyond the nature reserve as seen from our terrace

And the bay side did not disappoint either. With the lights from the city dressing up its calm waters, the bay looked somewhat more grown-up and sophisticated than the laid back birds’ paradise I’ve often pictured.

Clearwater fl bay at night
The bay side at night as seen from our terrace

Approaching home in the cool night after a walk with Bumble, the lighted palm trees brought a warm feel of the approaching holidays.

xmas lights Sand key fl
Lighted palms bring holiday cheer

That was last night. This morning was a different story. We woke up to an eerie landscape.  Only a builder’s crane stuck up from the fog on the beach side of the strait.

crane in the fog
A crane sticks up from the fog

Then, gradually, we could see the tallest buildings, the nature reserve and the ocean emerge from the fog.

nature reserve  Sand key park in fog
The nature reserve emerges from the fog

I was on my second cup of coffee, when the fog finally drifted on to the ocean like a long snake on the water.

fog on the ocean gulf coast sand key clearwater
The “fog snake” swims out to the ocean

As the salt marsh was clearing from the fog, I had to check on Papa Osprey. He was in the nest, perched on his favorite spot enjoying the first rays coming though the fog. But he had no breakfast. I was happy the visibility was rapidly increasing, PO could finally go fishing.

osprey in the morning fog
Papa Osprey (as seen from our terrace) soaks up the first rays when the fog is lifting

I hope you enjoy your fishing today, wherever it might take you. May your horizons be pleasant and your suns bright.

 

Flooding in Paradise. Birds’ delight.

Yesterday was a magnificent day. Wednesday’s rain event of the year was over. The sky was blue again, and everyone in the nature was happily active. And I mean just about everyone.

birds in flood water mass shower
Public bath…in the brand new rainwater lake.

I went for a long walk on the flooded beach, where the gulls and the terns where taking a collective bath in the brand new rainwater lake. It was like a crowded salon spa. A place for everyone to be.

two pelicand flying be
Tandem flying by pelicans.

The pelicans were back on the beach too, practicing tandem flying and synchronized diving.

two pelicans double dive 3
A dive well synchronized…

But I also witnessed them trying to catch the same fish. Not a recommended practice. Like in any competition, only one can win. Or perhaps the fish wins.

two pelicans dive for same fish
Diving for the same fish?

That’s exactly what happened. The fish was spared this time around. One of the pelicans was back up on his wings immediately, but the other one appeared a bit dazed for a while.

pelicans landing
What just happened?

I was curious to see what the torrential rains had done in the nature reserve and found a path to the park that didn’t require a kayak.

salt marsh after rains
West end of the salt marsh…and formerly dry grassy patches now underwater…

I immediately saw that the water level in the salt marsh was up by several inches.

salt marsh after rain flood
East end of the salt marsh…fish swimming in the previously very shallow water…and my usual photo spot is underwater too.

Some of the small “islands” were completely or partially underwater, and fish were happily swimming in areas that were very shallow or dry earlier this week. Including my low-lying photo spots 🙂

great white egret and small blue heron
Great White Egret and a Little Blue Heron surveying the landscape…

It was lovely to see how the birds enjoyed the revitalized environment. They were out and about in big numbers!

green heron 2 918
A Green heron…not in hiding today…

Mister Green Heron, whom I hadn’t spotted for quite a while was enjoying the great views. He was in such a good mood that he even posed for a portrait.

green heron portrait 2
A Green Heron sitting for a portrait…

He shared the tree with a juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron, who was perfectly camouflaged between the branches.

another juvenile yellow crowned night heron 2
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron well camouflaged…

A little later I spotted her cousin, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, at the other end of the marsh.

juvenile yelloe crowned night heron
A juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron not so well camouflaged …

Papa Osprey was there too, at his nest like I’ve seen him every single day from my terrace, keeping an eye on the skies.

papa osprey watching the skies 2
Surveillance underway by Papa Osprey…
papa osprey in the nest 918
What’s going on down there?

And the ground, where Tiny was waving to him, and where a Muscovy Duck and a Tricolored Heron were looking for food in the new shallows.

tricolored heron and muscovy duck
A Tricolored Heron and a Muscovy Duck looking for lunch…

After spending more than an hour with the birds, I decided to go home through the beach, taking a shortcut at the tree line. There was a small strip of sand free of water and I managed to walk dry-footed to the side of our garden, which is elevated several feet higher.

beach flooded after the rains
A new and temporary lake on the beach…

But there I was trapped by a new  four-foot wide “river” and my shortcut became a longish detour instead.

It was great to see such joy and activity among the birds. I truly enjoyed my long walk. I hope you did too. Have a wonderful weekend ❤ Tiny