Saturday, September 29, 2012

Juvenile Sanderling

A juvenile sanderling on the beach.... 

putting on a show for mother (actually it had an itch)!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

GINS Sea Turtle Patrol Areas

Here's a great little map display at Santa Rosa which I took a photo of during turtle patrol this morning.  It shows all our patrol areas (east to west):  Santa Rosa, Ft. Pickens, and Perdido Key.  Our bio-techs handle patrols on Pensacola Beach.  The map also shows the location of the Naval Live Oaks area in Gulf Breeze, where offices are located. 

My regular patrol area is Ft. Pickens, but I do quite a bit of subbing at Santa Rosa through-out the year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SR 7211 - Continued Collapse

The collapse of loggerhead nest SR 7211 continued last night and there were sporatic sounds of mass digging until the time I left around 3 a.m.  They will probably emerge tonight!  Our new volunteer, Krista Morgan remained to monitor this and other nests until at least 4:30 a.m., when Patroller Melanie Waite arrived.

The photo above was taken with my cell phone last night, using a red-filtered head lamp for illumination.  I did not remove the screen, but you can still see how the nest has collapsed and the rather bizarre column of sand which remains standing in the center. 

The column of sand is probably an inch lower than the surface, but the drop all around it is about 5" - 6" deep.  I've never seen a collapse quite like it before, but that's becoming a familiar refrain this year.

These little turts better come out tonight!  We're tired of playing hide and seek!  Time for them to get in the Gulf!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sea Turtle Nest - Signs of Collapse

While subbing at Santa Rosa GINS on Saturday, I was surprised to see the beginning of a collapse at SR7211.  It's about a week early.  In fact, there were nests which had been laid a week earlier than this one that had not hatched, but this has been an unusual year.  

Under drier condtions, you will usually see a soft bowl-like depression in the sand. When we've had long periods of rain like this summer or when a nest has been washed over during a storm surge, the surface may become compacted and crusty, resulting in a collapse with defined edges such as you see above.  

An interesting aside about the photo above.  Look closely and you will see there are actually three small holes atop the collapsed area.  One of them is obvious, but there are two more above it on the upper edge of the collapse.  They are not air holes.  This is where a mouse was sitting!  Sometimes you will see three pad/paw prints and others you will see all four.  It was probably the Santa Rosa mouse which lives in the dunes.  Yes, we have our own little beach mouse, but unlike Perdido Key, ours are not endangered.  The photo below with multiple mouse tracks was taken at another nest earlier in the year.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

'Vettes at the Beach

There were 221 "'Vettes at the Beach" this weekend!

If you like Corvettes, this event should go on your calendar.

The older models are still my favorites.

Look closely and you'll see the M&M's!

It was a gorgeous day for the event.

And it coincides with Taste of the Beach, so you can enjoy the cars and then enjoy great food.

 It keeps getting bigger each year.  Folks love it!

Isn't it a beauty?

It looks like the dragon is about to grab the Pensacola Beach water tower!

Amazing line-up of 'vettes!

Cool trophies!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Casting for bait

I enjoyed watching this man casting a net for bait fish tonight.

Wish I could have stayed long enough to see if he was successful,
but looking at net as he released it, I'd say he knew what he was doing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


What a beautiful evening on the beach.  We're having a bit of a lull in hatchings, but continue to monitor several nests which are actually overdue, listening for the sounds of tiny turtles digging their way to the surface.  

Heavy and frequent rain throughout the season, plus washovers during Tropical Storm Debby and Hurrican Isaac slowed the incubation process, but later nests are resulting in a considerably higher hatch-per-nest percentage than earlier ones.  That's a GOOD thing!

"Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind."

~~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) 

Twilight at Beach Cross

The 10 ft. cross which now stands atop a large dune on the south side Ft. Pickens Road was originally placed on the north side in 1959 by the Knights of Columbus.  It was part of the Quadra centenniel celebration of Don Tristan de Luna's landing in Pensacola in 1559, establishing America's first European settlement and commemorated the first Christian worship service in America, a Catholic Mass which was held by one or more of the five Dominican priests which accompanied Don Tristan de Luna on his expedition.

The date of the first Mass was approximately August 15, 1559.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Orchid Fever

I love my orchids.  They are graceful and exotic. And I need to extend my depth of field when photographing!

My mother is better with them than I am, but I'm learning.

Their blooms last much longer than cut flowers.  In fact, one orchid plant I bought in June was heavy with blooms until mid-August.  I hope this beauty lasts as long.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Gate Crashers

Last week on my first patrol back after Hurricane Isaac, I arrived at the boundary of Pensacola Beach and Santa Rosa to discover someone had crashed through the padlocked metal gate which closed the road to through traffic.  The road was closed during Hurricane Isaac and remains closed due to the storm damage (road collapse in areas).   

I called Dispatch, which had not been made aware of an accident.

The debris field was scattered for about 100 feet inside the Park.

It was dark, more than an hour before sunrise, but considering the impact I got out (I couldn't believe the vehicle was able to drive away!) and walked down toward the beach and then toward the dunes to see if the it landed nearby or if someone was hurt .

I found nothing, but considering the way things looked, I thought the engine might be in the front seat.

Look back at the first photo and compare this one.  This is where the gates landed and the debris was on the other side of the white truck.  The vehicle must have been going at an excessive speed.

The metal arms of the gate are heavy.  I can't lift them very far by myself.

Somebody's got some 'splaining to do when they get home!  Actually, I can't believe they were able to drive that vehicle home or that they weren't seriously hurt!

Santa Rosa - Gulf Islands National Seashore

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Stormy Weather

Luckily this cloud brought bluster and no lightning, but it looked like it was going to reach down and grab us right off the beach while screening a nest on Pensacola Beach this evening.  I thought sure I'd have an opportunity to photograph a water spout, but it didn't happen.

Santa Rosa GINS Road Damage

I finally had the opportunity to take a few photos of the road damage inside the Santa Rosa area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.

In several areas the damage is contained along the north shoulder of the road, but in others it extends to the center line and is dangerous to both motorists and cyclists, especially at night.  I have not heard any estimates regarding how long the repairs will take or when the National Seashore might reopen.

It's still a beautiful area to walk the beach and shorebirds are definitely enjoying having the National Seashore back to themselves.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bathtub Races!

Hurricane Isaac put a dent in the amount of people who came to the beach over Labor Day Weekend, but it surely didn't dampen the spirits of those who showed up for the Bathtub Races! (Note the boot sandals!)

Love this couple!

Never bet against anyone who wears a braided beard, especially if it's a female team in the Bathtub Races!

Hmmmm...I bet he says "Dude" a lot.

Boats lined up and ready to go.

It was a gorgeous day!