Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gulf Islands National Seashore

How blessed we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country.   Pensacola Beach is flanked on both sides by the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sea oats in silhouette

The golden sea oats were only a silhouette tonight as Mother Nature slashed my initial across the sky. ;-)  What?  You can't see the 'Z'????

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The amazing Green sea turtle crawl!

I was not very excited to wake up at 4:15 this morning to the sound of wind howling across the chimney and sheets of rain hitting the bedroom window.   Luckily the rain had let up by the time I got to Opal Beach and what an awesome patrol it turned out to be!  Not only did I discover my sixth sea turtle nest of the season, but it turned out to be that of a Green!  It's the first Green sea turtle nest I've ever found!

The mama turtle's crawl was 41" wide and what a path she made!  There were two body pits (eggs were found in the second pit), and there were three loops where she became disoriented afterward, as she tried to make her way back into the Gulf of Mexico.  Considering she probably weighed 300 lbs or more, you can imagine how tired this poor mama sea turtle must have been by the time she made her way back into the sea.

By the way, this is the sixth Green sea turtle nest of 2011 season (out of the total 75 nests to date).  So far, all of the Greens have nested in the Santa Rosa area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why do fish jump?

It was a gorgeous day at Ft. Pickens -- except for about half an hour when the skies grew dark as a rain cloud passed over and drenched me!  That's partially why the video is jerking around - I'm beginning to feel the first drops and scanning the sky around me, but I wanted to capture the moment.

As you can see in the video clip, fish were jumping all over in the surf, either having a great time or trying to escape larger fish feeding on them.  It was driving the Laughing Gulls crazy.

There was a lot bird activity to enjoy throughout the patrol: sea gulls, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Plovers, Least Terns, Black Terns (who appear to still be migrating), and Willet.   Coupled with the fact I found a Loggerhead nest and a false crawl, I'd say life is good!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Common Loon

It was almost two months into the 2011 sea turtle season (which started the first of May) before I saw Common Loons resting on the beach again. Prior to that it was 2009 when I observed them or heard them calling before dawn as I readied my vehicle for patrol.

I'm not sure why they weren't around last year. The easy answer is that they were affected by the oil spill in some way, possibly just by the number of people on the beach helping with the clean up.  Whatever the case, it is great to see and hear them again.

Loons are excellent swimmers and divers, but their legs are located farther back on their bodies than most birds and it makes them very awkward on land. If you see one struggling on shore or trying to get back in the water, don't assume they are injured, just quietly leave the area. Remember, when I get these pictures or video on patrol, I am quite a distance away and it is our purpose to complete our patrols with as little impact on wildlife as possible.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Breakfast with the Black Skimmers

There are all kinds of captions one could use for this video clip I took during sea turtle patrol this morning, starting with "I can't believe I ate the whole thing".   Poor little Black Skimmer fledgling finally just sidled away behind the dune to finish his fish in peace.

Sunrise at Navarre Beach

"We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness."

~~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Herons at Nest FP-6111

Sea turtle patrolers can count on finding something unique on the beach nearly every time we go out.  Sometimes it will be sea creatures we can't identify or interesting bird behavior (as shown below).  Sometimes it's curious things which have washed up on shore. 

This summer, for instance, I've see considerably more logs, driftwood, and large splintered pieces of wood along the beach both on Ft. Pickens and Santa Rosa, probably originating from storm damage hundreds of miles from us.

There are also times when nests get washed over during a high tide.  Wood and sargassum littered a large area around nest FP-6111, intriguing a family of herons who decided to swoop in to investigate.  I hated to interrupt them, but after a couple of minutes I had to push past to complete my patrol.

Monday, July 18, 2011

For Justin

"Let the wind carry you home,
Blackbird, fly away.
May you never be broken again.

"Beyond the suffering you've known,
I hope you find your way.
May you never be broken again."

~~ Blackbird, Altered Bridge

Justin was the son of a friend in Tennessee, a beautiful young man who was badly injured in a car accident late last year and has been in a coma since that time.  After overcoming many obstacles throughout these past months, Justin passed on last night and hearts are heavy at the loss for his family and the many friends who stayed by his side, hoping he'd be able to return to them one day. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blue Angels over Pensacola Beach

It certainly has been a busy couple of weeks with family visiting, the Fourth of July celebration, and the Blue Angels Air Show on Pensacola Beach. It has been great to see crowds back at the beach, helping local business owners make it a profitable year, and trolley stops being put to good use as people save a little gas by taking advantage of free rides.

I've taken time to catch my breath, had a little quiet time while I cleaned the house and worked in the yard, plus check out and download  photos and video I've taken recently.

There are tons of great photos on the web and on Facebook of the Blue Angels performing over the beach, so I'm just going to share a few video clips I took of Team RV, Fat Albert, and the Blue Angels performance so you can get a taste of the excitement last weekend. Our thanks to Mike and Chrissy Cook who invited us to attend their Blue Angels party and family reunion! Chrissy is a wonderful hostess!

Fat Albert

Here comes Fat Albert again!

Blue Angels

How cool is this!!

Team RV in their brightly colored planes.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Glorious Day

"And now, this is the sweetest and most glorious day that ever my eyes did see."

~~ Donald Cargill (1619 - 1681)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Grand Show

"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."

~~ John Muir (1838-1914) John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Birthday, America! I just watched fireworks taking place all over our island - east from my balcony and west from my windows.  It was an amazing display. 

On our 235th birthday, I would challenge my blog followers to take a few minutes and read something very precious to our country, but so easy to take for granted: our Declaration of Independence. 

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July from my paradise to yours!