Friday, September 30, 2011

Art & Wine Weekend

It's once again time for Art & Wine Weekend!  This year there have been some changes made to the event, most notably being the location.  Instead of artists having their tents at various locations around the island, all artists will be set up in the core area between the Visitor's Information Center and the Sandshaker.

I will be there from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day with baskets of note cards and double-matted photos in various sizes.  This year I have also added a few larger pieces - photos on canvas.  

It is a fun event, not only because it gives me an opportunity to display my photography, but increasingly I've had folks that follow my blog come out to introduce themselves or say hello.  So, if you're in the area, please stop by this weekend!  I'll look forward to meeting you!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another morning view

Another moment from my patrol at Santa Rosa this morning.

Last Patrol of the Season

This morning was my last sea turtle patrol of the season. It turned out to be in the Santa Rosa area instead of Ft. Pickens, my usual patrol area. I was treated to another spectacular sunrise as I neared the eastern end, which stops at Navarre Beach.

It was a bit sad, but it has been a fantastic year for us. We had over 80 sea turtle nests in our entire area which includes Perdido Key, Ft. Pickens, Pensacola Beach, and Santa Rosa. As usual, we mostly had Loggerhead nests, but this year we also had a few Greens and a couple of Kemps ridleys. Outstanding!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shake Your Tail Feather!

Several classes from Monette Hodges 'Dancingly Yours' dance studio on Pensacola Beach performed at the Casino Beach pavilion during the Taste of the Beach event on Sunday.  This adorable group of tiny dancers showed us all how to Shake Your Tail Feathers!  Oh how we love our little beach babies!

(Double-click the video after it starts to see it full screen and prevent the right side of the video from being cut off.  You may hit Escape to return to your regular screen afterward.)

Life's a 'Vette at the Beach

There were so many activities on the beach this weekend that it was hard to fit everything in!  One of the big events which helped fill Casino Beach parking lot was the Corvette show, Life's a 'Vette at the Beach, which just celebrated its fourth year on Pensacola Beach.  

Hosted by the Miracle Strip Corvette Club of Pensacola, this show seems to be getting bigger and better each time.  This year there were over 185 amazing Corvettes on display.  You may click on any photo to see a larger image.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Leave only your footprints behind

Yesterday was Coastal Clean-up Day.  Volunteers along the Panhandle turned out to pick up trash on our beaches.  This little shore bird wants to extend its thanks for everyone who helped make our environment just a little bit better and our beaches just a little more beautiful.
The smaller birds were very appreciative of footsteps left behind and took full advantage of them during the gusty weather at Ft. Pickens early this morning.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Blue Heron

One of the joys of patroling at Ft. Pickens is the number of Great Blue Herons I get to observe. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Santa Rosa tidal pool

Storms can be very difficult, especially for those who live on barrier islands, but after they pass the beaches are swept clear, as is the sky.  Tidal pools form and shore birds abound.  Yesterday morning a northerly wind flattened the surface of the gulf, but ruffles of waves raced along the shore, one after another.  As you watch the video, notice how a wave will start to the west of me and make a quick run eastward. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


I was very excited to see this beautiful osprey during my patrol at Santa Rosa this morning.  Someone had taken an old log which washed up and stood it upright.  It was a perfect perch for an osprey to scope out some breakfast!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving forward

Tropical Storm Lee had me pretty bummed out when I saw how our remaining sea turtle nests were being battered by high surf and buried deeper with sand.  I didn't know how many would be left.

Yesterday was the first day we resumed patrols at Ft. Pickens after the road reopened and I was anxious to see how it looked. 

I was sad to see the nest I discovered on July 17th was marked 'LOST'.  

I even (accidentally) sacrificed my beloved Droid for this nest in the torrential downpour that morning when the pocket where I had it stashed filled with water.  Come to think of it, I think our bio-tech, Toby Stapleton fried his phone the same way that morning in another area.

This in situ nest (natural/not relocated) was a reasonable way from the water when it was laid, but is quite close now. 

Luckily, the mama loggerhead had climbed a fairly steep berm to nest, so this site escaped the worst of the waves.  Unfortunately, you can see that it ended up with about two feet of extra sand on top of it and these little fellows will need some help digging out.

Six unhatched sea turtle nests  remained at Ft. Pickens when Tropical Storm Lee shut us down.  Of those, two were lost.  We are hopeful the other four will hatch with little or no ill effects. 

This nest with the extreme sand accretion, FP 7281, was discovered by Volunteer Connie Mickle and appears to be the last next one for this season at Ft. Pickens.

FP 7251, a relocated nest, holds 84 loggerhead eggs, and escaped no worse for wear.  The number of eggs is slightly lower than usual.  Many of our nests contain 100 or more eggs.  

A photo of Ft. Pickens Road on the way out of the park.  Sand was piled over head-high on each side of the road.   Not surprising since it was reported that sand was 2 ft. to 4 ft. deep over certain areas of the road.

I feel more upbeat after a couple of days patrol.  Tomorrow morning I'll be patroling at Santa Rosa and I'm anxious to see it for myself as well.  I was very grateful to hear from our Bio-Tech Toby Stapleton that my Green nest made it through!  Expect photos tomorrow!!!

Florida Brown Pelican

What a joy to catch a snippet of a Brown Pelican during patrol this morning!  These birds are so shy that I can never get near enough to get a good photo of them.  I was quite pleased to catch this fellow unaware!

Monday, September 05, 2011

High Surf on Pensacola Beach

Taken from my friend's condo on the 19th floor of Tower One at Portofino, you can see how the Gulf of Mexico is churning. You can imagine how large the waves appear at ground level.

Tropical Storm Lee - Monday morning

Things only got worse overnight on the island with multiple watches, warnings, and advisories: Tornado, High Surf, High Wind, Coastal Flood, Rip Currents ... and that's just in our area.

Obviously I won't be going over to the beach, so I took this video on our upper deck.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

News Release from National Park Service

Gulf Islands National Seashore Announces Temporary Closure of the J. Earle Bowden Way (SR 399)

Due to flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee’s heavy rains and high surf and sand on the roadways, Gulf Islands National Seashore will temporarily close the Santa Rosa Area including the J. Earle Bowden Way between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach on SR 399. Once the storm has passed and the sand is removed, the Seashore will reopen the road. This closure is in addition to the closures for the Fort Pickens Road and the section of the Perdido Key Road from the main parking lot east to the cul-de-sac. The Naval Live Oaks Area on U. S. Highway 98 in Gulf Breeze and the Fort Barrancas Area on board Naval Air Station Pensacola are open. Double red flag conditions remain in effect and visitors should stay out of the water. The park staff is currently assessing all beach road conditions to determine when they can be reopened. For more information please contact the Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center at 850-934-2600 and the Fort Pickens Road hotline number at 850-934-2656.

Sea turtle nest PB-7121

It's difficult to stay out on the beach for very long, not just because of rain, but gusty wind and blowing sand. This is what remains of our nest enclosure at PB 7121, west of Portofino.

Tropical Storm Lee - Highway 399

I was heading out to check on some of our Santa Rosa sea turtle nests this morning, but had to turn around just before the Welcome to Pensacola Beach sign. If you look closely you can see two frontloaders in the distance working to clear sand from the road.

I've been told that Ft. Pickens Road within Gulf Islands National Seashore has been closed and may stay so for a few days. Some areas of the road are covered by water and other by approximately 4 feet of sand.

TS Lee'ward

I think we can appropriately say this lady is looking Lee'ward, even if she is on the windward side!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Peggy's Pensacola Dream

I enjoy hearing and reading about other people fulfilling their dream of moving to our own little paradise. I know how exciting it is when that dream finally comes true.  I just discovered a new blogger who recently relocated to Pensacola, so I thought I'd share her site with my readers.  Please drop in to check out Peggy's Pensacola Dream, give her encouragement, and welcome her into the fold!

Tropical Storm Lee at Pensacola Beach - Saturday morning

Although the surf was up just a little more this morning from yesterday afternoon, the wind definitely seemed higher.  I will try to get the battery replaced in my small, hand-held wind speed gauge this afternoon so I can use it next time I go out.

PB 7121, which is a loggerhead nest, took on quite a bit of water during the night. If you compare the video from yesterday afternoon to this morning's you can see that it has resulted in the accumulation of several additional inches of sand top of the nest. The whole area is also littered with jellyfish.

There's always one....or two

Believe it or not, a couple of these men were actually waist deep in the water yesterday afternoon. The young lifeguard who was patroling the beach stopped to talk to them and ask them to stay out of the high surf with its dangerous rip tides.   [Note the rescue can buoy in his hand as a precaution.]

I'm still amazed at the foolishness of people sometimes. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee

The surf was getting higher on Friday afternoon as Tropical Storm Lee affected Pensacola Beach. A personal weather station on the island reported a gust at 43 mph today, but I think winds are sustained around 16-20 mph this evening.

Tropical Storm Lee

Tropical Storm Lee is already taking its toll on our sea turtle nests.  I was checking one of the Pensacola Beach nests this afternoon when the waves starting washing across it.  It will almost surely be washed out tonight since we still have several hours until high tide (3 a.m., I believe).

We've all been so happy at the boom of sea turtle nests we've had this year, but we hate to lose even one.