(This article describes our visit on August 29, 2012)
Beginning a journey in darkness can be unsettling. The human species is designed to operate within the visible light spectrum. In the dark, we can’t see normally familiar objects and sometimes unreal and potentially dangerous energy dances at the edge of our thoughts. Fortunately, our ancestors clicked a couple of rocks together and we have since been able to function more effectively once the sun disappears.
The other day, we lit our modern equivalent of torches and motored our way through the early morning dark to explore a familiar stretch of coast. Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg is a unique area. From an overhead view, it’s shaped like a broad arrowhead. It has beaches, back bays, mangroves, paths through hardwood and pines, tidal mud flats, fishing piers jutting into Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and an actual fort, the park’s namesake. This is a prime area for migrating birds in the fall and spring. We wanted to see if there might be some early fall migrants resting up for their journey to South and Central America and to see if Tropical Storm Isaac did any damage.
Dawn is a special time. The amount of light in the sky increases almost imperceptibly. As the darkness fades, so do any uncomfortable feelings it produced. It seems as if the world is now renewed and ready to get on with life.
A few early morning encounters:
– Sunrise over Tampa Bay. What a wonderful concept a bridge can be! (I have resisted the temptation to insert several metaphors here – you must develop your own!)
– A Willet on the beach probing the sand for breakfast. The early morning sun highlights his plumage.
– In the morning haze, ghostly Magnificent Frigatebirds float toward the open gulf. Soon they will terrorize any bird they find that has fresh food and steal it for themselves.
– A Brown Pelican flew just above me, looking very serious about locating prey. They usually look a bit ungainly in flight, but there’s no doubt this is a hunter in action.
– The smallest of the shorebirds, the Least Sandpiper, is almost non-stop in his energetic search for beach food. This little guy at full growth is only six inches long. The Black-bellied Plover by contrast is almost 12 inches.
– One of our fall visitors, the Black-bellied Plover, exploring the foam-filled shoreline. This one is in transition from breeding to non-breeding plumage.
– Looking for a meal is not only the first order of business for the new day, but a dire necessity throughout the day. The Little Blue Heron scans the shallow bay for fish and crabs.
– A Great Egret has found a patch of flowers that match his own wardrobe and posed politely before continuing his quest for insects.
Our morning was simply delicious. There was a beautiful sunrise over the bay, birds were everywhere and we enjoyed a picnic brunch overlooking a bayou with mullet jumping and cicadas buzzing all around us. With restored energy, the fishing pier jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico was our next objective. The surf was pounding, not typical for this area. It was the result of passing Tropical Storm Isaac, over 400 miles to the west. A familiar combination of healing power resulted in an overwhelming sense of well-being. Salt, sun, water, birds, palm trees. Apply liberally and often.
Late morning images:
– Sandwich Terns and Laughing Gulls rest on the shore as they prepare to dive back into the waves.
– Pelican portrait proudly portrays positively perfect posture.
– The lighthouse at Egmont Key, across the channel from Fort Desoto, guides ships transiting Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
– A freighter heads into Tampa Bay past the long-silent guns of the fort.
– Sandwich Tern searching for a school of fish to dive into.
– Opportunistic twin Snowy Egrets watch for fishermen to leave their bait buckets unattended.
– As a thunderstorm crosses the bay, we end our morning trip.
– The Sunshine Skyway will soon be enveloped in the dark clouds of the storm, but we know the bridge will be there again when needed for another adventure.
All is well here today. I still haven’t figured out how to take advantage of life’s ebbs and flows but my existence is filled with love. That may be enough.
For more images, see “Fort Desoto – August 2012” in the Gallery.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.
Dina’s City Wildlife Adventures (A terrific place to enjoy quality images, Dina posts often from Fort Desoto.)
See more birds at: Paying Ready Attention (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)