The beauty of darkness

Mangroves as light falls, Old Tampa Bay

Looking through the mangroves as light falls, Old Tampa Bay

I rarely see the dark. Off to bed while there is still light in the sky and awake into sunshine. We arrived in Tampa in the afternoon and by the time we toured the hotel and had dinner, suddenly it was dusk and then darkness. It was so exciting walking through the mangroves, wondering what eyes were looking at us and hearing the chirrup of many insects and night birds.

Doesn’t this look like a giant tarantula, below? It is really a spider crab and once I had my eyes focused they were everywhere. Wouldn’t it be fun to go there at Halloween?

Is it a tarantula hiding in the mangroves?

Is it a tarantula?

At one point the darkening sky turned green. It was eerily beautiful.
green light

It contrasted so beautifully with the pink sunset just before.

pink sunset

More wonderful photos and stories from Tampa to come.

Birds and vodka…

Yellow crested night heron, Tampa FL

Yellow crested night heron, Tampa FL

As I mentioned in a previous post, The Chicken Murder…, Teddy and I went on a hastily arranged trip to Tampa before he started his new job. Once again, air miles paid for the flights and I booked the hotel via Hotwire. My, ‘don’t know which hotel until you book’ worked so well in Charleston, that I thought I would try again. Wow! This one was even better. We were in the Grand Hyatt, on Old Tampa Bay, with a private beach, mangrove, nature walk with an amazing view across to the bridges. As I arrived to check in at the desk, the British receptionist asked me if I would like to upgrade to a sea view for $15 per night. That seemed like an excellent deal and we just gasped when we walked into our corner room on the 8th floor with floor to ceiling windows looking over the bay.

Grand Hyatt Tampa

Grand Hyatt Tampa

The mangroves were calling us, so as soon as we had showered off we went. Just before we reached the mangroves, an older couple from the North called us to tell us that there were FIVE nests of yellow crowned night herons in the tree above us! They noticed the cameras and thought we might be bird-watchers. It was so exciting to see a new bird (to us) and so many in a tree. They were very high up so my first shot has been cropped and not quite as sharp as I would have liked. Little did I know that when we walked back to the hotel, we would see others just chilling beside the tourists at the pool, at their own little pond. Completely fearless…
yellow crested2
After that, we went to investigate the roof-top bar and restaurant. What a treat, sipping on vodka looking at ospreys and roseate spoonbills diving for fish, with the sun beginning to set. After another two vodkas, we asked for the bill and then realized we were at the Grand Hyatt – 40 bucks for 4 drinks!!! At least the free snacks meant we ate less at the Plebeian bar downstairs… Just before bed I took this lovely shot just before sunset.
dusk birds
It was blissfully quiet in our oasis with the buildings at the other end of the peninsula in the distance. We left the curtains open all night and watched night fisherman with tiny lights.