We took Angel to the dog beach at Honeymoon Island State Park for another beach experience. There’s a nice trail leading to the beach so Angel got to experience lots of different smells once again. She is getting more comfortable with the waves on the waters edge, although she still isn’t interested in going swimming.
We took a leisurely walk along the beach and Angel met some buddies along the way. The beach has a great “dog wash” in the parking area, so Angel didn’t have to stay sandy and salty for long.
Another day, our wonderful hosts, David and Sharon drove us south along the coast towards St. Petersburg and to find a bird sanctuary that I’d read about. The first beach we stopped to look at was in the town of Clearwater, it was a beautiful wide beach with white sand.
We continued down the road passing one beach town after another, making brief stops to check out the different beaches. There are a variety of towns and beaches along this coast, some like Clearwater with a mix of high-rise and low-rise buildings, others with only low-rise buildings and some beaches that are very natural and wild, while others have been widened by dredging and “cleaned up” to remove seaweed.
One of the things we love about the beaches on the gulf is how calm the waters are compared to the Atlantic. Boating is great and calm (lunch by boat is a pleasure). And everywhere we’ve been on the gulf coast, we saw abundant and varied beautiful birdlife.
We visited the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, Inc., the largest wild bird hospital and sanctuary in the U.S. The birds face multiple dangers and nine out of ten birds brought to the Sanctuary suffer from injuries caused directly or indirectly by humans; gunshot wounds, entanglement in fishing tackle, and poisoning by pesticides and environmental pollution are some examples.
The Sanctuary successfully treats and returns many of these birds to the wild to live a normal life, but for some birds, full rehabilitation is not possible. Those birds are kept permanently and assist the Sanctuary in educating the public about avian conservation. While we were there, we witnessed a mating dance between two Sandhill Cranes. These four foot tall birds face each other, leap into the air with their wings extended and feet thrown forward all the while making VERY loud croaking calls. It was crazy.
One of our last evenings in the area, we watched the Christmas boat parade in downtown Dunedin. There were more than 20 boats decked out in Christmas decorations and lights. Santa Claus made quite a splash with a grand entrance in the sheriff’s boat at the end.
On our last day at Dunedin, Dave took us to Caladesi Island on his boat. The island is one of the few completely natural islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast, and its white sand beaches were rated America’s Best Beach in 2008. It is a state park that’s also accessible by ferry and has a three mile nature trail through the interior of the island. We took a long walk along the shore, which has tons of shells and, of course, lots of birdlife. This was a perfect place to spend our last day in Dunedin.