It was about 53 degrees at 6:30 a.m. When I went out, I could see both VENUS and the slender crescent MOON, which is way over to the left of Venus this morning. What clouds there were were whirls and arcs radiating upward from the horizon. I’ve never seen a morning sky quite like this one.

Got to the Park Beach at about 6:45 a.m. and found TWO HORSESHOE CRABS on the dry sand near the kayak launch. One was big, the other small. Somehow they had gotten turned over onto their backs, and the tide had gone out without them, stranding them on the dry sand. My intuitions told me to flip them back over onto their feet, and I think I was right. The smaller one headed straight for the water, and the bigger one crawled a ways along the beach and then turned toward the water. The tracks these strange creatures make are distinctive: two parallel lines where the outer edges of the shell touch the sand, and lots of little footprints where their numerous little feet pull them along. When the bigger one got close to the wet sand, it began to dig in, front end first.The smaller one just kept on crawling.

As I walked along the beach, I discovered another small one, flipped it back onto its feet, and watched it crawl a ways and dig in. A fourth one was covered with sand, and when I flipped it over it seemed a bit disoriented. It started toward the water, then turned around and is now facing Park Place. I’m going to leave it alone and let it figure out what to do.

I encountered yet two more, for a grand total of SIX HORSESHOE CRABS stranded upside down on the beach this morning. As with the others, I flipped them and watched what they were going to do. The smaller one crawled onto the wet sand and dug in, and the bigger one is digging into the damp sand at the edge of the wet sand.

Finally got to the rocks at the Cedar Cove end of the beach at 7:05 a.m. and watched the faithful little SPOTTED SANDPIPER work along the far edge of the canal, rocking and hitching as it went.

By 7:15 a.m. I was at the Cedar Cove Townhouses watching the BLACK SKIMMERS flying around off the beach a ways. No birds on the beach here this morning. The tide is way out (LOW TIDE was at 6:49 a.m.), and it’s cold and windy where I’m standing. The wind is blowing from the East and/or Northeast, I think. The SUN is up and shining in my eyes (SUNRISE was at 6:57 a.m.), but I’m COLD! Time to hike down to the Dock.

From the Dock Street Bridge at 7:30 a.m., I saw a KINGFISHER flying around in front of the Island Place.

Later this morning Bob and I went up to the Lower Suwannee NWR. Got to the Observation Deck at 10:30 a.m. and saw three small ALLIGATORS. One was swimming, and the other two were out of the water basking in the sun. All three were across the pond from us. I might have heard a PARULA WARBLER. If so, it’s the first of the season for me.

Got to the River Walk parking lot at 11:15 a.m., and I definitely heard a PARULA WARBLER there. By 11:30 a.m. we were partway down the Boardwalk Trail. We heard and then saw a BROAD-WINGED HAWK flying overhead. We encountered a young guy with a leaf blower blowing leaves and other things off the Boardwalk. I guess he was getting things ready for the big annual gathering this weekend, but he certainly was making a lot of noise on an otherwise lovely morning. The trees here are leafing out, and the birds are singing. I wish I could see and identify everyting I’m hearing. I got pretty frustrated trying. The only species I know were flitting around in the trees above me were YELLOW-RUMPED and PARULA WARBLERS. We also heard a PILEATED WOODPECKER off to the right of the Boardwalk and saw a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER down by the River.