Friday, August 27, 2010


While out birding last Saturday, our group got quite a scare as we crossed over to the Sound side at Opel Beach. There were large mats of what we thought were tar balls washing ashore with the sea weed. We contacted a ranger and reported what we had found and someone came to investigate. Turns out they were not tar balls at all (Whew!) but some sort of vegetation. Once home, the research began and turns out what we were looking at were either sea squirt casings ( or Black colonial tunicates of the genus Eudistoma or filamentous blue-green algae broken off from underwater algal mats. ( Whatever they were, we were all very happy to know they were NOT tar balls. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes."
Charles Lindbergh, interview, 1974

I can ride the currents

I can turn on a dime ...

And go the other way

When I've had my fill of flight, I can put down the landing gear and chose earth.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


"I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could." 
~John James Audubon

Saturday I joined a group of friends for a birding walk along the shore looking for and identifying shore birds. Our group was led by a wonderful man who is an expert birder from the Audubon Society. He was so knowledgeable and had this wonderful scope on a tripod, that I did more listening and looking and very nearly forgot to take any pictures, so the photos of birds are few. And the ones I did, well, not my finest hour behind the camera. The day was hot and humid and we lasted until about 10:30 a.m. or so, but the comraderie of the group and the birds themselves made for a lovely morning. I also had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger, Sue, aka "Florida Farm Girl". What a treat to meet the person behind the camera.

Before our walk even began, this GREAT BLUE HERON flew up onto the roof of the pavilion we were meeting under. A good omen for the day.

A GREAT EGRET walking in the grasses on the Sound side of the State Park in Navarre.

GREAT EGRET in flight.

My first look at a TRI-COLORED HERON. Beautiful.


In all we spotted about 23 species of shore birds.There were sandlings, brown pelicans, Osprey, Black Bellied Plover, Killdeer, Willets, Ruddy Turnstones and a whole lot more that I didn't photograph or that if I did, I shot badly.  

Just before the heat totally did me in, I took a few non-bird photos of Gulf scenes in Navarre.

Gulf of Mexico and the Navarre Fishing Pier

Navarre Fishing Pier

Under Navarre Fishing Pier

In the afternoon, several storms came through the area. It was a wet, dark and dismal afternoon, heavy with clouds. So you can imagine what a treat it was to see such a magnificent sunset in a still cloudy sky. (I was told by one of my birding friends that the sunrise over the Gulf was breathtaking too. I, of course, missed sunrise seeing as it happens so early in the morning!) This was one of those perfect days.

No words needed.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I've been away from my blog for awhile and really haven't been taking too many pictures of late. This is one from my archives. Hopefully, I'm back on track. Tomorrow I go on a walk along the coast with some birders and I hope I come away with some good photos of our shorebirds.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Pulled up a loose board from one of our groins that was about to tear away. Once it was out of the water, I discovered a cluster of barnacles that had attached themselves firmly to the wood. I was taken with the circular symmetry of these crusty shell-like crustateans that eat plankton. Once I discovered what they were and what they ate, I had an AAAHAA moment. I've been involved in a NOAA study collecting water samples from around my dock and then analyzing the water under a microscope trying to identify Phytoplankton. The study is looking for Phytoplankton that can be harmful to the waters, causing toxic alga blooms that can be harmful to humans and/or degrade ecosystems by forming large blooms. I've been pretty discouraged, since most of my samples have turned up not one Phytoplankton of any type--good or bad. There are other little creatures in the water, but I've found nothing that the study would be interested in.

 So, I inspected all the groins (we have three) and all of our pilings and found that barnacles were growing on all of them. Maybe its not the fact that I'm doing something wrong or am missing these little creatures under the microscope. Maybe, the barnacles have eaten them before I can find them! I'm feeling a little less like a failure.

Barnacle encrusted board

Groins are projections that usually run perpendicular to the shore into the water. They act as breaks to the water and their main purpose is to collect sand, helping to replenish in winter what the summer tides have washed away. 

Isn't nature amazing!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


My hibiscus are blooming and are lovely this summer. It's been so hot and humid many other garden favorites are not doing so well, but the hibiscus is proving itself a true tropical flower.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This nest seemed empty, but I hung around for awhile anyway to see if an osprey would return to it. I could hear one nearby and so I waited patiently. Just as I was about to give up and move on, I heard a whoosh and hurried to raise my camera and focus. Out of 5 shots this is the only one with the osprey in the picture.

The bird never actually landed on the nest, but kept circling over it and then went to a nearby tree staring at me and chirping shrilly. It seemed my presence was causing it distress, so I turned my camera off and left. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


"Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened."

I read something recently that took me on a journey to the past. It was bittersweet and made me remember a very special place. This place holds the blueprints for who I am and the road map that directed me to the place I'm at today. It's been quite the journey.