November 30, 2010

Santa Manatee

A sure sign Christmas is right around the corner in Sarasota is the appearance of Santa Manatee.  Ten-and-a-half-months out of the year, he's just a sea cow holding a mailbox.  But, immediately after Thanksgiving he tosses his pilgrim hat aside and transforms into Santa Manatee, which (of course) makes me smile on my way to and from work.   So, now the entire SDP staff is being dispatched to locate (and photograph) the most interesting and unusual Christmas decorations in Sarasota.  Ho...ho...ho!  

November 29, 2010

Roseate Spoonbill

One of my favorite birds in Sarasota is the roseate spoonbill.    Maybe it's the goofy looking beak, the white-pink feathers, or those bright red eyes...but I think they're really cool.  I don't see them as often as I'd like, so when I do it's a treat.  I spotted this guy hanging out with some other spoonbills at the celery fields. 

November 28, 2010

Drum Circle

Should you find yourself on Siesta Key beach at sunset on a Sunday, first you'll hear these folks in the distance.  Then, the hypnotic pulsating beat of the drums will draw you to them  -- the Drum Circle.  Nothing seems to be choreographed.  They just show up and bang their drums on the beach.  Some free spirits dance and others twirl neon hoops.  It's definitely something fun and different to take in --- if only for a few minutes.  

November 27, 2010

Landing Gear Down

Did TSA pat down those stick legs???   This feathered in-flight beast is a wood stork with its landing gear down approaching the celery fields.  Watching it wobble through the air, making corrections with the wind currents, I was impressed with its smooth uneventful landing.  He's a natural!

November 26, 2010


And look at the birdie.  I spotted this little cattle egret sitting atop the traffic light pole at a very busy intersection next to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  It seemed to be enjoying the view, completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle below.

November 25, 2010

Dinner Time

No turkey for this wood stork.  Instead, he's opting for a sushi dinner (and no pumpkin pie).   Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2010

'Tis the Season (Already)

Yep...the bird hasn't even been cooked and the Christmas decorations are out ---- and lit up.  I spotted Dionysus under a neon bow Monday night on St. Armands Key.  When I noticed the crews putting up the decorations in the afternoon, I wondered whether they would wait to light them.  Now we know the answer.  Dionysus seems to be quite festive this year.  For those of you who don't recall, this is what he looked like at Halloween

November 23, 2010

Sand, Castles & Dragons

I showed up right at sunset on the last day of the master sandsculpting competition on Siesta Key over the weekend.  Wow...what a great time to be there!  About a dozen sculptures were created by artists working in teams of two.  This one, made by two guys from Texas, was my favorite.  They say the texture of the sand on Siesta is perfect for this kind of art.  I'd say you can't go wrong with that sunset either.

November 22, 2010

Start 'Em Young

I met 2-year-old Eliyah Keller at the Sarasota Naturally street fair.   He was sporting a t-shirt that said, 'Be green. It's cool!'  Start 'em young.  Growing up in the '70's during the energy crisis and inflation, I was taught  when you left a room you turned off the lights...and fans...and radios...and TVs.   You never left the refrigerator door open.  And, living in Michigan, we always turned the heat down when we left the house.  It was all about saving money.  Amazing how behavior like that sticks with you.  Years later, I still follow those rules. 

November 21, 2010

Peaceful Morning

This is the First Baptist Church steeple on Main Street in downtown.  Whenever I'm near it with my camera, I always have to take a picture.  Between it being alabaster white and the sun being so bright here, it's challenging to capture a good shot.  So, I keep trying.   This time around I like the wispy cirrus clouds.

November 20, 2010

Bottoms Up

What a sight...just ducky!  There must have been something really good to eat in there for those mallard ducks to maneuver their way through that thick layer of lilly pads and then submerge themselves vertically.  They look like big brown feathered bobbers.   This is a retention pond located on a busy intersection, right next to the city's water treatment plant.  Almost always, I see wildlife here.  When I stopped, I originally planned to take pictures of the lilies -- until I spotted the ducks having so much fun.     

November 19, 2010

Pretty in Pink

I met Taylor the Welsh Corgi recently in downtown Sarasota.  Not only do I love those adorable big bat-dog ears, but those expressive eyebrows, shiny schnoz and pink floral kerchief.  She's ready for a day on the town!  Taylor just moved here from Scottsdale, AZ (along with her humans and doggie brother Tucker).  Pace yourself have a lot explore and sniff (and herd) here in Sarasota.  Welcome to SRQ!  

November 18, 2010

Gallery of Patriots

The Gallery of Patriots is located within Gillespie Park in the heart of the Sarasota.  It's been here since 1977 when the Hispanic-American Civic Association donated it to the community. The gallery consists of about two dozen busts of prominent political leaders in the western hemisphere, like Uraguayan Jose Artigas in the foreground and Honduran Francisco Morazan in the background.  Americans featured in the gallery include Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

November 17, 2010

And the Answer Is...

...(to yesterday's question) photograph birds!  Specifically, sandhill cranes.  Congratulations to my blog buddy and fellow ornithologist Dina at Dina's Wildlife City Adventures who answered correctly! Check out her blog ---her bird photos are amazing.   When I took this shot during a recent sunset at the celery fields, I counted approximately four dozen sandhill cranes.   The best part is watching them fly in.  Their wing span is amazing.  Hopefully, I'll capture a nice in-flight shot soon to share with you.

November 16, 2010

Photo Opp

What would attract oodles of photographers with their long lenses on a Sunday evening to eastern Sarasota County?  Thoughts...guesses?  Anyone??  Bueller?....Bueller???

November 15, 2010

Doggone Adorable

Walking down Main Street, I noticed a sign outside Southeastern Guide Dogs announcing 'Puppy Hugging 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.'  Who could resist such a sign?  Through the storefront window I could see about a dozen happy canines playing.  Again, who could resist?  This was the first chance I had to visit the new Sarasota office of Southeastern Guide Dogs since it opened in downtown two months ago.  The little one on the left (I believe that's Brenna) is 18-weeks-old and is in the seeing eye program.  By the time she graduates, when she's about 2-years-old as I recall, she'll know 40 commands and will be able to assist her human.  All the others in the photo are therapy dogs who visit nursing homes and hospitals.  I just love that!  The facility is spacious with a play area for the dogs, an education room (presumably for the humans) and a gift shop.  As it turns out,  they have a 23-acre campus in Palmetto (a little north of Sarasota) and give tours.   If you can't visit either place in person, check out their Puppy Cam  --- it's irresistible.   There's lots more info on their website:

November 14, 2010

Sarasota Naturally

I was downtown yesterday afternoon and stumbled across a street fair called Sarasota Naturally.  It was  busy, which really wasn't surprising since Sarasotans typically are into all things green/natural.  What was surprising was the above scene:  hoop dance.  I had never seen it before -- or heard of it, for that matter.   Bonnie Brown was giving very cool demonstrations (which seemed to be a bit of a workout) and I couldn't help but notice she seemed quite happy, smiling the entire time. As it turns out, her business card says, "You simply cannot be unhappy while dancing with a hoop."  Apparently, hoop dance is growing in popularity and she offers lessons.   A group even gets together on Siesta Beach every Tuesday night at sunset --- and hoop dances.  Who knew?!  You can learn more on her website:

November 13, 2010


Meet Imhotep!  Since he's a basenji like my Mulligan, I had to say hello when I saw him at Bird Key Park.  Like any good basenji, he was typically cat-like and aloof, more interested in sniffing the wind and grass and scanning the horizon than anything else.  Basenjis are curious barkless hounds from Africa.  So, his owner told me, he's named Imhotep, after the first architect of pyramids.  I don't know about buildings, but basenjis are always designing a plan.   They're so playful....they can design and hatch a plot before you realize what's happened.  Usually the plot has something to do with gleefully shredding paper --- a favorite basenji past time. (Strange but true.) Hmmm...I wonder what Imhotep was contemplating when I snapped this shot.

November 12, 2010

Slice of Americana

Little boy sitting atop dad's shoulders waving American flag...check.  Military cadet sporting beret while marching in parade...check.  Little girl wailing at sights and sounds of parade...check.  Ah, I love a parade!  The turnout for yesterday's parade on Main Street was terrific --- a great tribute to our veterans.  To see more pics from the parade and ceremony visit my flickr page.

November 11, 2010

11th Hour...11th Day...11th Month

Today is Veterans' Day in the U.S.  This is one of a handful of holidays which falls on the same day every year.  Actually, this one lands at the same time.  Veterans' Day is recognized at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  That's when fighting stopped in 1918 to end World War I.  This is a photo of the veterans' memorial statue in J.D. Hamel Park in downtown Sarasota.  I'm off to the parade and ceremony.  Thank a veteran today for their service...I will!

November 10, 2010

Owen Burns Week

No, this isn't Owen Burns.  This is the guy who wrote the book on Owen Burns.  Literally.  Jeff LaHurd, a favorite local historian, just published a new book on Burns -- and the Friends of the Sarasota County History Center hosted a book signing party the other evening.  (50 copies were sold in the first hour!)  Jeff has written about a dozen books on the history of Sarasota, including spring training baseball, the Gulf Coast and now Owen Burns, the man who is considered the developer and visionary of Sarasota.  Burns arrived in Sarasota 100 years ago.  For $35,000,  he purchased 75% of what would become the current city limits.  So, to pay hommage, this week has been declared Owen Burns Week in Sarasota.  And, let's not forget the historian who has a knack for making Sarasota's past interesting and readable.  Congrats, Jeff!

November 9, 2010

Go Ride a Kite!

It was quite blustery here over the weekend.  When I drove over the Ringling Bridge, I noticed there were more kiteboarders and windsurfers in Sarasota Bay than I'd ever seen before.  So, of course, I stopped for a few photos.  It was amazing how fast they were cruising across the bay! These pics are of Jarrett Heiting who told me he's been kiteboarding for 5 years.  That sport must take a lot of coordination and upper body strength, but he made it look effortless.

November 8, 2010

Ferraris on the Circle

St. Armands Circle was the place to be Saturday if you're into sports cars.  Specifically, Ferraris.  "Ferraris on the Circle" was the name of the event and lest there be any confusion....there were a a lot of Ferraris on the circle.  About two dozen members of the Tampa Bay Ferrari Club displayed their vehicles.  Not being a car person, I found it quite entertaining watching people express their car envy.  Someone told me one of them cost $240K.  Wow. 

November 7, 2010

Great Florida Beach Walk

Visit Florida, the tourism arm of the State of Florida, held the Great Florida Beach Walk yesterday morning.   All over the state, people took pictures of the pristine beaches here and uploaded them to a website where the world can see that Florida beaches are beautiful and oil-free -- right now.  I wasn't able to make it to the actual walk, but I stopped by Lido Beach later in the day and snapped this shot and submitted it.  It kinda looks like the seagulls are lined up and ready to walk.  To check out other pics from the Great Florida Beach Walk click here.  You may have noticed, I'm continuing to experience problems with Blogger.  Intermittently, the photos do not post when I publish via time delay.  It's particularly frustrating because I'm unaware of it unless someone notifies me.  Has anyone else had this problem?  Suggestions on how to correct it would be greatly appreciated!

November 6, 2010

Colorful Condos

These colorful condos were constructed in Burns Square just before the construction industry tanked in Florida.  I find them appealing not only because of the colors but the height step backs and roof architecture, which avoid the 'ol box building look.

November 5, 2010

Bow Bow Wow

What does a happy hound standing at the bow of a boat cruising Phillippi Creek say?  Bow wow!  Probably won't be too many boaters out this weekend....temps are supposed to drop below 70.  (At last.)  Happy Friday!

November 4, 2010

Soaring at Sunset

Not the best of photos, but yet there are aspects which prevented me from deleting it:  the colorful sky, the silhouette of the bird soaring high above a tower and the foreboding dark clouds.  Actually, this is a typical autumn sunset here in Sarasota.  Love it!

November 3, 2010

Jack No More

Well, the Jack and the beanstalk scene is gone.  **poof**  This is is all that's left to the vine that was rapidly climbing up a utility line near downtown.  When I posted this picture almost seven weeks ago, there was speculation as to whether the utility company would ensure the vine met its demise.  I'm not sure what happened, but it's dead, dead, dead.

On a separate note regarding yesterday's post about election day:  I met a small business owner from the Ukraine yesterday who recently became an American citizen.  This was his first time voting in a national election here.  To say he was fired up would be an understatement.  His enthusiasm and perspective were terrific.

November 2, 2010

Time to Vote

I love election day!  Yes, I actually vote on election day.  Call me old school, but early voting isn't for me.   I wonder how long I'll have to wait in line...?

November 1, 2010

Edgar's Beast

The Sarasota Chalk Festival was supposed to end last night at midnight at which time the streets would reopen and vehicles would tread over the art.  After a hectic weekend, I made it back down there with 45 minutes to spare, specifically to capture this piece.  It's Edgar Mueller's 3D chalk work of a monster-esque type thing, emerging from the street.  The detail is amazing.   To see the piece four days earlier click here.  As it turns out, the festival was so popular, the city apparently agreed to keep the streets closed for one more day so people can enjoy the finished art.  Visit my Flicker site to see a few other finished pieces from last night.