December 2009


Up at 5:10 a.m. Checked some Web sites for key information. SUN: sunrise at 7:24 a.m., sunset at 5:42 p.m. MOON: moonrise at 1:14 p.m. with 61% of its face visible. TIDES: low 2:53 a.m., high, 2:20 p.m., high 8:31 p.m. At 6:40 a.m. I stopped by Cook’s Cafe for the ealiest cup of coffee in Cedar Key. It’s worth the $2.09 they charge for it to get something hot at this hour on a cold morning. It’s colder today than it was yesterday, but less windy. I’ll be glad when the sun starts rising earlier — or maybe I need to sleep later? Or spend more time reading and/or doing other indoor things before I go out to watch for the sun?

I wish Mead hadn’t stopped making my favorite pocket notebooks (and the size paper that goes with them). They have been my most useful field tool during these 30-some years I’ve been educating myself as a naturalist. Mead’s smaller size notebook doesn’t give me enough space per page, and the bigger size doesn’t fit into my back pocket. But maybe I should experiment with the two sizes that are still available just to see if I could make either work?

7:10 a.m.: I seem to have missed the pre-show while I was sitting at Cook’s Cafe warming myself up and fussing about my pocket notebook. When I headed toward the Dock, there was a lot of color in the eastern sky. I can see the bright glow where the sun is going to rise. Birds are flying by, including one big flock that I hope will loop back and put on a show for me. Actually there are TWO FLOCKS out there, but they seem to be flying away. About 8 more minutes to sunrise. I’m cold but determined to stay out here until I see the sun. For birds I’m seeing GULLS, PELICANS, 5 DIVING DUCKS, SEVERAL FLOCKS OF SOMETHING FLYING IN THE DISTANCE, GRACKLES, CORMORANTS, AND 4 MORE DUCKS FARTHER OUT.

I think the sun is above the horizon, but it’s hard to tell because of the thick gray clouds. The bright spot is getting brighter, and I’m sure I’ll see the sun itself if I can make myself sit here for another 4 minutes…. There it it — at 7:26 a.m. by my watch. but it’s too cold to stay for the whole sun to rise above the clouds.

2:05 p.m.:

5:40 a.m.: It’s Christmas Day in Cedar Key. Sunrise 7:24 a.m./Sunset 5:46 p.m. Overcast and sprinkling. No sun. Oh well…. 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast at Kona Joe’s in pouring rain. The sun poked through the clouds for a while, then disappeared again. Low tide was at 1:17 p.m. At 1:30 p.m. Bob and I took a short walk behind the condos. We saw a BROWN PELICAN, KINGFISHER, several OYSTER CATCHERS, a GREAT EGRET (yellow bill, black legs and feet), 2 WHITE IBISES, 10 or more SCAUP (probably LESSER), an OSPREY, a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, a MOCKINGBIRD, HOUSE SPARROWS, and a BIG DOVE with black on the back of its neck. A FLOCK OF WOOD STORKS flew overhead, looking elongated and pre-historic. I hope we’ll see them again so I can really look at them. 4:45 p.m.: early Christmas Dinner at the Island Hotel. It was an excellent local meal. Bob had a fish platter of all local fish, and I had local clams. It was a multi-course meal, and every course was interesting and delicious. Not a bad way to celebrate Christmas 2009 — and our first full day in Cedar Key.

We spent last night in a cute little motel in High Springs, Florida, which is about an hour from Cedar Key. There was a great diner across the road from our motel and we had both dinner and breakfast there, then headed down to Chiefland to shop for groceries. Got to Cedar Key mid-afternoon, exhausted but glad to be here. I’ve decided to declare these December days part of our Cedar Key 2010 trip. The first thing I noticed when we got to our condo is the spectacular view of the Back Bay out our back window. I’m not sure there’s another view in Cedar Key as pleasing to a naturalist’s eye. It seems to hypnotize Bob and I can feel it slowing me down to a naturalist’s pace.