In Tampa Bay there are many islands- two of them are Bird Island, and Sunken Island. They are off limits to people – only birds and other wildlife are allowed. So we figured it would be a good place to see birds, knowing that we couldn’t set foot on the islands. We launched at a small mooring area, and noticed several sunken boats! On some you could only see a bow pulpit or a broken mast sticking out of the water, and some were above the water but might as well have been sunken. I’m not sure why anyone would let a once valuable asset rot and sink. We were not sure if this was an omen as we headed out to Sunken Island!
The islands are not only off limits for people, but you aren’t allowed within a few hundred feet of them. So we were viewing from a longer distance than I’d hoped for.
Lots of Pelicans hang out on the islands, and the Anhingas and Cormorants are also plentiful.
This Pelican seems to be enjoying inverting his beak-pouch (called a Gular Pouch) over his neck. I’m not sure to what purpose he’s doing it – maybe the “Chicks” like it!
My grandfather taught us the first two lines of the following poem. I’m sure he didn’t have the nerve to teach us the whole poem.
“A wonderful bird is the pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak enough food for a week.
But I’ll be damned if I can see how the helican.”
This poem says he can hold more in his beak than his stomach, which is true to a point. He can hold a couple of gallons of water in his gular pouch – far more than in his stomach. But then he drains the water out, and swallows only the fish.
Practicing “shooting” birds in the air:
Invaders in Tampa Bay:
We drove about an hour north to the Chassahowitzka River (say that 10 times fast!) in search of Manatees. These huge but gentle creatures are like big puppy dogs. Sometimes they come up close to you, as if asking to be petted! I did some underwater video of these awesome animals, and was surprised how much flotsam is in the water. Maybe next time we’ll try Crystal River, a little further north, but supposedly having very clear water and lots of Manatees.
We also saw more cool birds, so you have to look at some of them before we get to the Manatees!
This little guy was a good fisherman!
Not everyone here was interested in the birds…
A couple of Bald Eagles watched us from treetops far away.
This Osprey let us get a bit closer.
Yes, we did see lots of Manatees!
Here is the video with our Manatee sightings: