I made a new friend today. She is the sister of another friend that I occasionally meet up with for a photography session. This time they met me at the bridge near me in hopes of a good sunrise session. So photography was the excuse to get together at, ahem, 6 AM, but it was nice to know it would be a social trip too. And breakfast at a place new to me, and boy was it ever good. I don’t know if I’m happy to know it’s there or not, after all, feeding myself has not been an issue during this time of social distancing. The sunrise could have been more spectacular, but the company was just fine.
It was the moon that got me out this morning. Friends of mine have found great spots to photograph the moon set and/or the moon rise over the Tampa skyline, but I haven’t ventured out to try it myself yet. I confess that I didn’t know that that was even a thing until I saw their photos, which are amazing. So this morning I checked to see where the almost full moon was in the sky before sunrise, and decided that it would be over the scene I enjoy in Aripeka. Of course I hoped it would look bigger, and hang lower, and that some sunrise color would be present in the sky, but I suppose that was a lot to ask. I didn’t even see Fred this morning. But the chill in the air plus the breeze meant that there were no bugs out this morning, so that was a plus.
I wanted to go back to Green Key beach, or more correctly, the road to the beach, when low tide came around again. Low tide lets you walk out onto the wet sand to improve your view of the sunrise, which in reality is rising almost straight back down the road you drove in on. Low tide also leaves you lots of seaweed and debris that feels creepy underfoot as you walk out toward the water in the dark. And after you stand and take several pictures and then decide to cross the road and see if the view is better on the other side the wet sand holds your shoes, reluctant to let them go. Thankfully I’ve learned not to go shooting in flip flops anymore.
To my surprise, a little before sunrise someone came down the road and opened the gates that allow you to drive to the end of the road to the actual beach, so I jumped in the car thinking the view would be better from the beach. Perfect even. But no, there was foliage blocking the view totally, so I returned to the spot I’d just left. And the sunrise was prettier than I expected, shot from the opposite side of the road. Only a spoonbill appearance would have improved the day…
I was looking at the maps in my phone the other morning, looking for yet another good spot to go to go for sunrise photos. Another close to home spot preferably. And I found a possibility, but unfortunately I missed the turn in the dark so I opted for Green Key Beach instead. Well, not the beach because the gates aren’t open early enough to get all the way to the beach, but I pulled over on the road to the beach. And that was a good thing. Not because the noseeums weren’t out because they were. And from that road you don’t have an especially good view to the east either. But it was low tide and there was a rocky foreground which always helps make a nice shot. And as I stood there with my camera on the tripod waiting to see if the color was going to develop I heard footsteps. It was dark enough that I couldn’t see anyone, but I heard her say hello. Lynn was her name, and we chatted as we watched. She comes there often and says that she sometimes sits and waits across the street and often lots of birds show up in the inlet there right around sunrise. Lots of different birds she said. Including, much to my surprise, spoonbills. And right on cue she noticed that the wading birds we were seeing down the way included a spoonbill or two. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have noticed them myself since they were in the shadows. But even though the pictures aren’t the best I can at least prove that yes, they were there. As it got lighter they flew off. This will be another frequent stop for me, I hope I see them again.
This black crowned heron was also in the mix, as was a pretty full moon.
Sunrise at the mountains? No, but I do love the clouds that could convince me that there’s a mountain range in the distance. And that’s as much color as there was this morning. These are the sunrises that remind me to stick close to home when it comes to sunrise and sunset photo ops. I’m glad I didn’t drive an hour this morning, or maybe it was a prettier sunrise further south. And when I do choose to drive then make a plan to meet friends there so it’ll be fun one way or another.
But that wasn’t my only trip out this morning. A visit to the Chrysler dealer for an oil change put me close enough to the eagle nest that I couldn’t resist looking for them again. And again the eagles were nowhere to be seen. But I was luckier when I headed to the fishing pier to see what I could see.
I was on the way to my car when I stopped to take the picture of the gull in the sun. But a fisherman came past and asked if I’d gotten a picture of the manatee that was hanging around the fishing pier. The answer to that was no, I had missed that completely. It was a gorgeous day, cool but windy, which made the water choppy and I had to wonder how anyone had noticed the manatee. She had a calf with her too, or so he said. I went back and barely caught her snout as she came up for air for just a second or two. But hey, I saw her, and managed to catch that snout in one of the 20 or so pictures that I took. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make a good day.
After the sunrise I decided to swing by the pond in my community to look for the family of ducklings I had heard about. There were 13 to start with, and they were down to 9, so I wanted to see them soon. I’m jealous of my photographer friends who can, sometimes literally, sit on their patios and take gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos. Lovely views come with higher prices I’m sure, so it’s a trade off, but when I hear of a photo op that’s so close to home it’s a treat and I don’t want to miss it.
But someone else was also watching the pond along with me. An osprey up in the tree on the right hand side. I nearly missed seeing him at all. Was he looking for the ducklings also? I had to google it to know for sure, and found out that they eat 99% fish, but small animals and birds are also possible. So maybe I was happy that the duck family wasn’t there. And I was happy to see the osprey take to the air, but mostly for the photo ops…