Some may think we have been married far too many years to be considering a honeymoon, but that is exactly what we did recently. While we didn’t do much nesting while on said honeymoon, I must admit to being a teensy bit of a voyeur, watching those who were nesting. 😯
If you winter or live near Dunedin, Florida (just outside Clearwater), you may have guessed that we spent a day visiting Honeymoon Island State Park, a mere three miles from where we are staying at Dunedin RV Resort. On a recent sunny day (it is raining and blustery as I sit here typing 😦 ) we hopped on our bikes and headed to Honeymoon to check out what the hype was all about.
An unusual name for a state park, its origins began as Hog Island until 1939, when New York developer Clinton Washburn, coupled with LIFE magazine, held a contest for newly married couples. The winners received an all expense paid two-week honeymoon in a romantic palm-thatched bungalow on Honeymoon Island. Although the bungalows were abandoned at the start of WWII, the name of the island stuck.
Today you can bike the island, kayak around the 4-mile shoreline, throw a line in the water, or grab a beach chair and umbrella and soak up some rays on a white sand beach, lulled by the rhythmic melody of the waves.
You can choose instead to do what we found to be the most exciting, walk the 2-mile nature trail to spot osprey and eagles nesting. This is the time of year where mom and dad are busily feeding and guarding their chicks so there was much activity on the nests and the osprey’s high-pitched whistling was an ongoing symphony as we walked along the path. With so many nests in this section of the park, it is tough to decide just which one to focus on. This is a place where one need not wonder if they will see wildlife, rather how many.
Osprey thrive on the island but they are not the only predators you may see on your visit. At the far end of the nature trail, behind a protected fence, a pair of bald eagles guard a nest housing two chicks.
We spotted an elusive great horned owl hanging out in the canopy of a pine tree at the 3/4 mile mark. Looking like a football wedged in the branches above, further investigation revealed a beautifully colored predator. No nest has been spotted this season, a disappointment to those who protect this island.
One final gift delighted us as we diverted our eyes from the sky to the ground right at our feet…the gopher tortoise.
We had heard there was a shy little armadillo shuffling around in the brush but unfortunately he eluded us. Having had a fruitful day of voyeurism, we headed back home with huge smiles on our faces.
Honeymoon and its neighbor, Caladesi Island, were once part of a large barrier island, split into two during a brutal hurricane that hit in 1921. The waters running between these two islands are known as Hurricane Pass. We hope to kayak over to Caladesi Island during our stay, weather permitting. Timing for the paddle is tide dependent…too low and you are stuck in the mud and oyster beds and too high, you cannot squeeze through the mangrove canopies. Sounds like great fun. Wish us luck!
78 thoughts on “Honeymoon Nesting”
LuAnn, great and beautiful photos of the birds, especially the Bald Eagle and the GHO!! It sure looks like ya’ll had a “Honeymoon” of a day!!
We certainly did have a honeymoon of a day! 🙂
What awesome bird (and tortoise) pictures!!! I think I would definitely have a smile on my face after seeing such amazing birds (and tortoise).
It was a beautiful Florida kinda day! 🙂
Such great adventures! Hope the weather cooperates for more great shots!
It is supposed to begin warming up this weekend. Hope all is well with you Gunta.
That was quite a honeymoon with wildlife around no less. Great shots especially of the gopher tortoise and the great horned owl which I still have to encounter. I can relate with your happy smiles, these animals are always a delight.
They certainly are. For us this lifestyle is very much about surrounding ourselves in nature. 🙂
Wow! What an amazing day! The bald eagle sure is serious about his duty. I hope I get to see an owl one day. What a gorgeous creature. And Mr. Turtle is too cute:)
We will have to make a day trip to bike and hike. Looks like a neat place. Hope you get to kayak.
I sent you an email about our dates. Hope to catch up.
It was one of the best days yet, both weather and wildlife. I am now heading over to my emails to respond to yours. 🙂
Great photos and so glad you h ad some nice days. Enjoy!
Thanks Janie! Wish you had warmer weather in Destin. It looks to be warming up here this weekend. Hopefully you will see the same.
I look forward to the Kayaking… loved the Eagle photos, would have difficulty leaving that spot without at least a 1000 photos…
Wow LuAnn the wildlife there is simply stunning, what beautiful birds of prey! Fabulous photographs once again, absolutely lovely. Have a great kayak trip 🙂
Thanks Mike! 🙂
What a cool hike. We prefer walking over riding. We seem to see so much more on foot. Gorgeous photos!
I do as well Marsha. We biked over to the park then I got off my bike and walked the trail. Terry rode as he is having some issues with his knee again and biking proved to be more comfortable than walking for some reason.
Glad you were able to find a nice day to explore. The photos are great. I love the “expression” of the owl, but the others are nice, too.
Thanks Joan. I have begun practicing with my new camera and am still in need of a few filter lenses, particularly shooting upwards in bright sun. Hope this finds you feeling back to your normal self. 🙂
Ahem….. I’m thinking we should have followed you guys South rather than venturing North 😨 Egads! We’ve near frozen to death!!
Hooray, the lurker emerges from the shadows! 🙂 When we initially met you and Jim we felt sad that we weren’t heading in your direction. I have recently seen some photos of a couple we know who are staying in Destin…brrr! Where are you two right now?
Oh, I’m so glad to see you made it to Honeymoon Island. Your photos of the eagle are stunning and love the focus on the turtle. I’d say your learning that new camera pretty darn well. 🙂
I think had I had that polarizing lens that you discussed with me, those shots would have looked a bit better. 🙂
I don’t know, they turned out pretty darn great. 🙂
Thanks! I am anxious to see what the differences will be once I have some filters. Thanks for the tips my friend! 🙂
I’m not sure why it is so darn exciting to see these creatures doing what they do, but it IS! Sounds like a great place to get more bang for your buck, so to speak.
Pam (of thebigEZ travels) has gotten me hooked on the Ft. Myers Eagle Cam. I check it a few times a day and its so interesting to watch the parents feed and care for their two babies. Today Mama was sheltering them from the rain. The other day she brought what looked like a racoon for breakfast!
They are fascinating to watch! Thanks for the tip on the Ft Myers Eagle Cam. I am going to check it out. 🙂
Oh, I have to visit this park. Wonderful.
The osprey are everywhere and it was wonderful to be able to see a pair of bald eagles. 🙂
I cannot believe you got better photos of bald eagles in Florida, of all places, then we ever have during our travels to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest! Beautiful, kudos, and I am a bit envious I must admit! 🙂
Aren’t osprey so beautiful? I got a thrill any time we are fortunate enough to spot them in their natural habitat.
Thanks Tamara! I was surprised we got those shots of the eagle as the nest was quite far from us. We saw and heard osprey all along the trail. It was a wonderful day! 🙂
Wonderful photos and commentary as usual! My thrill watching osprey fish came during an early camping trip to Yellowstone in the 70’s. And I’ve been lucky enough to spot eagles in many places, surprisingly outside an apartment complex in Colorado. You two are certainly adventurers, good luck with the kayak trip.
Thanks Gale! My first experience watching osprey fish was also in YNP. It is an amazing sight. 🙂
A voyeur eh, I respect your honesty and the distance your night vision binoculars can see hehe. Your bird photos are up to your wonderfully high standard, to see such wildlife would indeed be an experience.
Thanks Ste J. Lucky you to live beyond my reach of those binoculars. 😉
And here was me leaving my curtains open!
That’ll teach ya! 🙂
I love this post, LuAnn! I’m sure it’s joyful to see them on site, thank you so much for sharing these precious captures with us 🙂 The eagle, Wow!
My pleasure Amy! 🙂
I live in Clearwater and we were at Honeymoon Island last Saturday! It was perfect Florida winter day….blue sky, sunshine, nice breeze. Can’t wait to get back out there!
It was our first visit and we truly enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Stunning photos and yes the slow guy is easier to photograph! I love the line of blue windbreaks and umbrellas too. Lovely post!
Thanks! Those blue umbrellas against the white sand was rather nice. 🙂
Must have been quite a site to see all those beautiful birds!
And to hear all the osprey whistling! 🙂
the pictures are fantastic. you’re really an alert photographer. i esp.. like the words that inspire you.
Thanks David! I really enjoy trying to capture all this wildlife but feel I need lots more practice, but I guess that is true of most hobbies. How are you and Les handling the cold weather in WI?
Wonderful photos of the ospreys and eagles LuAnn. Truly, a pro job. We have family in Clearwater, and amazingly, haven’t been to either of these parks. We’ll remedy that on our next trip down. ~James
Thanks James! We had no idea of the number of osprey nesting there until we biked over. There was always a few circling overhead and so many nests dotted the treetops.
Wow! They are beautiful photos LuAnn. It sounds like your honeymoon was just perfect 🙂 And you have never been married too long for a honeymoon.
Thanks Al! Coming from someone who does so well capturing bird images, I feel honored. 🙂
🙂 I wish I could take some like that.
I know you could take some even better than these. Wish you were in a place where these predator birds were readily available. 🙂
It would be nice 🙂
Had to see this post with one eye to be sure I wasn’t imposing on your honeymoon. 😉
Great photos – especially love the one with the owl!
Haha! That owl was so far up in the tree and he kept rotating his head so I wasn’t sure what I was getting. Their coloring is quite beautiful. 🙂
HAVING NEW ADVENTURES THRU YOU–THANKS IT WAS A GREAT TOUR
My pleasure Kay. Hugs to you and Charlie! 🙂
Ohhh….biking in shorts and short sleeves—and people on the beach!! It looks so warm and sunny and beautiful. We’ve still been freezing in north Florida…so keep on enjoying that warmth (and send us some!) 😉
As soon as it returns I will attend to do so Laurel. We have had rain and no sun, with cool temps, for the past three days. 😦
Mona Lisa and Ingrid .. .and now YOU! Geez, you gals are bird magnets. Me so jealous.
It is difficult not to be when you are in FL, and I haven’t even seen some of the more unusual birds yet. Stay tuned! 🙂
I like the name Honeymoon Island, better than Hog Island. No offense to hogs. 🙂 It looks really beautiful there, and you got some great shots of the wildlife. The eagles obviously go for very messy-looking nests. 😀
The osprey nests don’t look much better! 🙂
Hey LuAnn. We’re running a post next week (Thurs) about me mis-identifying an osprey (Our bird was a hawk – oops). I need a good photo of an osprey, and naturally, I thought of the great shots in this post. We would love to use one of your photos in our post, and of course we would give you credit and a link to your post. So, if you like the idea, just email an osprey shot to us at email@example.com
Thanks in advance,
I would be happy to oblige. I can send you a number of them and you can decide which you might want to use. Thanks for thinking of me!
Send ’em over and we’ll work it out. Thanks much LuAnn.
I sent a few your way. Hopefully you received them. 🙂
wonderful place, LuAnn with such rich wildlife. of course, the Bald Eagles always capture the attention but that owl you snapped, delightful! lovely post.
Thanks Sun. 🙂
What a gorgeous creature hanging above in the canopy. I probably would of screamed when I looked up and scared him away☺
You may have thrown down your camera first Laurie, as it took looking through the EVF, in lieu of binoculars, to determine what I was really looking at. He’s a beauty! 🙂
Hi LuAnn, I just wanted to thank you for the comment on my blog post and to tell you that I answered it there. I try to get to know my commenters if I can so I came on over and see that we have a great deal in common in what we like. Your pictures of the osprey, eagle, owl and tortoise are terrific. What a treat trail. We have never been there but it has just gotten moved WAY up on our list. I very much like your blog’s subtitle. That’s what it is for me too spirituality. self discovery and adventure.
Hi Sherry! Thanks so much for stopping by. I too believe we have a great deal in common so hopefully someday I can meet you in person. I’m going over to your site now. 🙂
Thanks for the shout-out James. As for the talented photographer bit, just sheer luck, although I am learning a thing or two along the way. 🙂
Looks marvelous! It’s been so darn cold here in NJ I wish I had a protective shell like that tortoise!
Wish I could send you some of our sunshine. 🙂