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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Florida: Rain, Beach, and Birds

Did someone translate me to Seattle and forget to tell me?
Was it me who was whining about the drought all last summer and just a few short weeks back? I do detest whining but I'm sure it was me guilty of this intolerable habit.
Okay, I am VERY grateful for all the rain we've gotten over the last few weeks. Really I am. It's been sweet relief after so many months void of the heavenly moisture. Dragging hoses around the garden every day is a minor trouble compared to the overall reasons our state was desperate for rain.

It isn't just our typical afternoon thunderstorms we are dodging lately. Rains are showing up all times of the day and often more than once a day.
This week hubby and I ended July and began August taking off a few days and doing some fun day trips together. Knowing how much I love the beach, birds, and eating breakfast at the open cafe, he took me down (south about 1 hour) to Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.

Crossing the Skyway Bridge at 7:00 am under clear, sunny, morning skies is an invigorating way to start the day. As we made our way toward the beaches and over the shorter bridges the atmosphere rapidly changed to dark clouds and drizzly rain.
Beach Morning Glory (left)

Sea Oats (below)

No matter, we are accustomed to the way this weather pattern unfolds and we agree to make the best of it.

My favorite beach destination never disappoints. Even on a dreary day the crystal clear waters are green and the sand is sugary white. Ahhh, the smell of salt, the sounds of gulls, the plantlife that can only be found at the salty shores.

The Sea Oats were as pretty as I've seen them in years. So lush and plump and happily flowing in the breezes. See, even the beach dwellers that normally do so well in the extreme heat and drought burdened climes thrive with steady amounts of rain.

Sea Grapes (above left)

Oleander (above right)

The stunning bloom of a schefflera (below)

We waited-out a heavy downpour before we could get out of the car initially which makes for a very deserted beach. Oooooh, just the way I like it. There were three separate rainbows appearing across the horizon in the course of a couple of hours. Often times there will be showers off shore that never reach the land.

The one seen in the distance was obviously coming toward us as the gusty winds preceded it onshore to warn us. This one let us know it was going to be a doozy. Already quite wet and by this time hot from walking up and down the beach, we didn't mind at all a little trot in the drizzly rain in our attempt to outrun the fastly approaching downpour.
Some of the shorebirds that were not the least bit bothered by the drizzly morning and quiet beaches that day.

Immature Laughing Gulls
(thanks to a correct ID from my friend Sophie Mae who is a birding genius... really... I always count on her expert eye).


Black Skimmers and Laughing Gulls

The gulls are a common sight all over Florida. Black skimmers aren't all that uncommon but I had not seen or photographed them in the past.

Willet sitting and standing (right)

White Ibis
Another common sight ... even inland. We see these birds in our neighborhood all the time. But here, with the striking color of their beaks and legs against the backdrop of the water, they look especially fitting.

Other birds from this week of being out and about...

I never tire of watching the sandhill cranes around our neighborhoods. This one (there were two actually- almost always seen in two's) not at all letting the soft showers deter from its foraging.

Anhinga (right) drying its wings after diving deeply into the water for its afternoon meal.

At a nearby golf course on another rainy afternoon this week, the shorebirds who make the nearby waters their home were basking in the lightness of showers.

Snowy egret (left)

Little blue heron (right)

Thanks for coming along with me and my rainy day photos.

It's back to the garden bright and early in the morning to get some serious work done.

Next week the showers are predicted to get back to their normal pattern. That simply means every afternoon/evening thunderstorms roll through with typically heavy rains. Once all that atmospheric craziness subsides all is calm again.


  1. You are so lucky to be getting so much rain, could you send some my way? :) I loved all the sky, blooms, and bird pics. Great shots.

  2. oh meems how i long to be a the beach. to smell the salt, watch the sea rolling in and out, feel the sun kissing my face. thanks for sharing it virtually. i love the sea oats pic (i made it my desktop background)!

  3. I love your state and totally get your state of mind! I remember the afternoon thunderstorms in Tampa when I lived there! It was even steamier after...hard to imagine but it was! meems the birds are wonderful and even nicer that you know their names! When we visited the Tampa area to look at New College with our then 17 yr old...the new Skyway Bridge was a surprise...I remembered the old one!
    I so loved this post! Gail

  4. Rain and cloudy skies make for stunning photos, Meems, and yours are indeed beautiful. Enjoy!

  5. Thanks for taking me on your trip with you...even though it was just via photos. I know I wouldn't fit in the car now anyway! :o)

  6. Hi Meems.........what a wonderful post.....the beach looks amazing, so quiet and full of birds....and the pretty plants surviving in difficult conditions....

    We went across the skyway bridge on one holiday.....I think we were going to Ft Myers....we were on a fly drive was great fun.....

  7. Feast or famine, deluge or drought. Why can't we just have perfect weather every day? LOL! I reckon we would get bored, wouldn't we?

    Love love LOVE your beach pics! Don't feel bad about making me homesick. It's pretty much a chronic condition these days. One day I'll move back... ( one lives in hope 8-] )

    Your first shorebird pic... google immature laughing gulls. 8-]

  8. The photos of your outing are great. I love Skimmers. They are so unusual. Not only in their appearance but when they lie down on the beach to rest. I always am taken aback when seeing such a large bird lying down.

  9. perennial gardener: Thanks. I would send you some rain if I could. I know so well how it feels not to have enough... that's why I'm not complaining.

    marmee: Noticing the plumpness and liveliness of the sea oats was interesting. They usually look so dry and shriveled (which I like too)... it was a beautiful sight actually to see them thriving.

    gail: You are so right... much like a sauna it is after the rain! You know what happened to that first Skyway don't you? It was hit by a barge and now it is a fishing pier. The new one is magnificent. Thank you, Gail, it is nice you know first hand what I'm referencing!

    joey: Thank you. Yes, cloudy days are the best for photos. It was a trick trying to keep my camera dry and the lens wiped off when it was raining however.

    s/s/m: Glad you came along. We were so drenched and the cute little car was quite mud splattered... that didn't go over too well. :-)

    cheryl: how remarkable ... you were so close to me... you must have been leaving the Tampa airport and yes, you would have driven over the Skyway to get to Ft. Myers. Any plans to come back?

    Sophie: I'll take the rain over the drought any day. It has given me back a life ... not having to think about watering everyday by hand. Not only that but hours of time.

    Thanks so much for the always faithful birding help! I should have used my better guide (the one I bought after you told me about it- Sibley's I think-I'm outside- too lazy to get up and go look at it). But it makes sense... now that I "see" it. Hopefully I'm learning... just think, last year when I started blogging and became interested in birding I barely knew the names of my back yard birds. You have been a great inspiration. Enjoy your night!

    Lisa: Either I have 'new eyes' or I really NEVER have seen the skimmers before. Hard to imagine I haven't since I have spent so much of my life at the beach but 'tis true. They are interesting in their markings and with that upper bill being shorter than the bottom, too.

  10. Looks like y'all had a lot of fun.

    It was nice and predictable today...when I heard the crack of thunder I checked my watch...3:30. I like it when it is right on schedule. No more of those unpredictable morning showers. They mess me up. They make me want to be curled up on the couch with a movie or a book...not behind a desk! Or even the beach, that would be better than the computer and the desk. :)

  11. This was a very pleasant excursion along your very pretty shoreline.Many of the birds are familiar here, they seem to be international! We call the Schefflera Umbrellatree. Our Lorikeets love them for their nectar.

  12. Beautiful pictures of birds :)
    Schaefflera blooming? oh my! I didn't know it is blooming so nice. More: I had no idea it is blooming at all!

  13. mjm: I was just finishing up my day in the garden when those cracks of thunder could be heard in the distance. Yep... right on time. Only the rain never made it to us. Today is a higher chance for showers... I had to hand water this morning... hopefully we will get our share this afternoon.

    titania: Thanks for coming along. I've not heard it called Umbrella Tree but I can see why it is.

    Ewa: I know exactly what you mean. Not even in my town does it bloom. But just south of here where it is a little more tropical the tree grows enormously tall and the bloom is stunning.

  14. There is just nothing to compare a rain storm coming in from the ocean.It is facsinating to watch. I loved all the birds and all the flowers. How grand to take a day trip to such a lovely area. We loved Tampa but took the skyway by mistake and ended up south of town instead of north. Oh well, we enjoyed the scenery and the water.

  15. Lovely pictures, Meems. The only downside is they make me ache for that view. I so need to move closer to the beach.

  16. LOVE the pictures of the birds! I do miss living by the water. Beautiful pics though :)


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