Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Good Morning, Sunshine!

I'm not going outside to take photos in these temps, but I looked out through a salty upstairs window and saw the beginning of a beautiful sunrise.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bella Blue

How lucky am I that this sweet furbaby found me and so difficult to imagine people are willing to abandon them.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew!

This was the autograph/meet & greet line for Andrew Zimmern today.  I think he's going to be here a while!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Last shot of the night

All is calm

What a beautiful evening to be screening nests on the beach.

Turtle Time

I don't know what I love most - my patrols, the hatchings, or talking to young people on the beach and seeing their eyes light up as they learn about our magnificent marine creatures. 

These two handsome young men and their families were near a nest I screened tonight and got to hear the hatchlings digging their way to the surface. 

Thursday, September 05, 2013

For the love of technology!

Perhaps Barrier Island Girl will finally be back on track! My blog has suffered in the past year (or two) due to the amount of travel we've been doing, the time it takes to process my photos for the blog (they have to be downsized to a lower resolution or sometimes cropped), and the amount of activities I'm involved in now.

FINALLY, technology caught up with my needs - or perhaps my familiarity with technology I needed finally got up to speed - but an app was developed for Android which will allow me to take photos with my phone and upload them directly to my blog! YAY! That's not to say you won't be seeing some glitches as I learn, but as least I will be able to keep up my blog more easily.

The photos won't be as sharp since it's more difficult to steady my phone in high winds than it is with a heavier camera. There is also a problem of seeing what's actually on the LCD of my phone due to glare, and size of the phone screen. Unfortunately we've had a tremendous amount of rain and storms during my sea turtle patrols this year which meant my good cameras stayed at home. Let's see how this app works in the days ahead.

Here's hoping!


We're certainly having some amazing cloud formations this year.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


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It was a gorgeous evening for Queen Bonnie's Tiara/6-months-to-MardiGras party at Paradise last night. The weather wasn't too hot, the humidity wasn't too high, and there was a light, cool breeze from the Sound side. Even better was visiting with friends who came out to celebrate AND that awesome Fred burger. Too bad Jimmy Buffet doesn't stop by and try one! He'd REALLY be singing his heart out about those Fred burgers in Paradise.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Morning Sea Turtle Patrol

It's easy to see why I love my morning sea turtle patrols, isn't it?  Even if I don't find a nest, I have an incredible view!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Baby funnel

It was interesting to watch this little funnel cloud as I headed past the Ranger Station.  It couldn't decide what it wanted to do and I wasn't sure either.

From this vantage point it appears to be over the Ranger Station, but it must have been over Pensacola Bay/the Intracoastal Waterway.  I was heading into another downpour, so I packed my camera away and hurried along.  Eventually it disappeared back into the dark clouds.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

In a time of storm

We've had nothing but storms and rainy weather for several days, but sometimes storms bring beauty into focus.

Commemorative cross on Pensacola Beach

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Red, White and Blue

We're getting ready for the Fourth of July at our house.

But I don't think that these will make it 'til then.

Our thanks to Huganrian Facebook friend, Ancika Konyh├íja, for this fun idea.  She is always making incredible pastries, cakes, and delicious foods and shares the results (and recipes) online!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

From Sunrise to Sunset

Yesterday was a v...e...r...y.. long day.  From 4:15 a.m. when my phone alarm when off for turtle patrol, until sometime around 9:00 p.m. when I collapsed fully-clothed on my bed without bothering to take off my make-up or take my meds and supplements, it seemed I was on the move.  It's amazing what a good night's rest can do to restore the body, thankfully!

A lovely sunrise in the National Seashore.

After sunset I can see the lights from Gulf Breeze begin twinkling across Santa Rosa Sound.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mantel of Memories

I love my mantel of beach memories.  The starfish remind me of the beach renourishment of 2005/2006. The large clam shell in the middle reminds me of my parents and the time we found this washed-up fella and put it in boiling water to clean it out, all of us freaking a bit when it slowly started opening! 

The little sea turtles on either side of the mermaids remind me of special people or events.  The mermaids, of course, remind me of the wonderful group of friends I've made here on the beach.  The memory shelf is perfect for rainy mornings like this, mentally brushing off the good memories and reminding myself that life is good.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pensacola Beach Sea Turtle

Sadly, this is the only sea turtle (or nest) that I found on patrol this morning.  But it is cute, don't you think?  My thanks to the anonymous sculptor!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Santa Rosa Patrol - Thursday

It was a gorgeous morning for patrol in the Santa Rosa area of Gulf Islands National Seashore

I was already heading back west toward Park East from Navarre Beach by the time the sun was coming up.

So I was able to get some nice photos of the reflected sunrise in clouds on the west horizon, even though I took them from my rattling UTV.

Even a bit blurry, life on the beach is so good!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Boatin' and floatin'

I haven't seen this many boats on the water in ages.  Pensacola Pass was the interstate of boaters yesterday as all types and sizes of craft headed out into the incredible sapphire water.  The surf was calm and there was a nice breeze.  It was a boatin'/floatin' day, for sure!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another rainy day

Yesterday was like a monsoon season and although it is heavily overcast today, the rain has lessened.  It feels a bit like a sauna outside right now (79 degrees/90% humidity), which is definitely not good for my camera, so I'm using my time to get the house ready for our next round of company which arrives on Wednesday. 

I'm hoping to hear back from the Audubon Society soon with some information about the photo of a banded American Oystercatcher I sent them last Thursday, photographed in the Santa Rosa area of Gulf Islands National Seashore.  It was the first Oystercatcher I've ever seen for myself here on the island, so it was exciting to see it had been banded.  Hopefully they will be able to tell me the location of where it was banded. My guess is the Apalachicola area where they are more common.  

Friday, June 07, 2013

I love my sea turtle patrols!

There's just nothing quite as satisfying to me as my turtle patrols! 

We have a total of seven nests so far this season.  If the weather would cooperate, we should have several more very soon!

Oh, what a beautiful morning...

It's amazing that the Gulf can look like this today after what we saw yesterday!

And on top of this gorgeous view, we were also treated to another spectacular sunrise.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Santa Rosa Patrol

This morning was the first time I have had an opportunity to patrol the Santa Rosa area  Gulf Islands National Seashore.  It turned out to be quite a day due to the "side effects" of  Tropical Storm Andrea.  Although it was breezy, wind speed didn't come close to what I experienced the first week of May, but the surf was high and this morning's patrol coincided with a rising tide.

It's discouraging to face these type of conditions so early in the season, causing a lot of destruction to our nesting bird colonies:  Black Skimmers (Watch List status - Yellow), Least Terns (Endangered) and Snowy Plovers (Threatened).  This morning I discovered that the waves were running high ashore into many of the bird enclosures (nesting areas which have been roped off to the public due to nesting birds).  You can see how far the water has washed past the posts in the photo below.

As I neared Park East, the waves were also washing close to the dunes and sand fencing.

We may still have rough conditions tomorrow, but hopefully the Gulf will calm soon and we won't lose many of the newly-hatched chicks or nests. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Not so Common

Most everyone knows that I have a passion for sea turtles, but the sea and shorebirds of the island fascinate me, too.  Unfortunately it is difficult for me to identify many of them due to changes in their plumage.  One of the biggest differences occurs in the breeding season.  I was shocked to learn the bird (breeding) above is the same brown and gray bird (non-breeding) I frequently see resting on the beach in times of rough surf.  Their wail is a hauntingly beautiful sound in pre-dawn hours.  I hope you click on the highlighted link to hear several of their calls, if you have never heard them.

I have received several calls through the years about seriously injured birds "flopping around" on the shore with what must be a "broken leg" and nearly every time it has been a Common Loon which is resting.  While loons are incredible swimmers and divers, they have a difficult time getting around on land because their legs are set so far back on their body.  In fact, I made a brief video of one returning to the water so you could see how awkward they are on the beach.  Remember, the photo above is of a Common Loon in May, during the beautiful plumage of breeding season, and the video below was taken in August when the loons were past breeding season:

I would call these special birds "common" at all.

Sunday Sunrise

Yesterday's sunrise at Ft. Pickens was beautiful, but it was even more dramatic this morning due the smoke in the air (from wildfires on the mainland).  The sky was scarlet and orange just before the sun peeped over the horizon and the higher clouds looked like they were boiling.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A mouthful!

There is a Texas proverb which says, "Don't worry about biting off more than you can chew.  Your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think."

I'm not sure that was the case for this Great Blue Heron.  I thought he was going to pass out for a while, but he finally choked down the giant fish he found washed up and swallowed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Black-bellied plover

It takes so little to get me excited!  Rebecca Carruth, a bio-tech with Gulf Islands National Seashore, was able to identify this bird as a Black-bellied plover. Yay!  I've seen them for the past few years near the start of our turtle patrol season, but I was never able to get my camera out in time for a good photo.  They are SO beautiful.  Rebecca says they are also referred to sometimes as the "tuxedo bird" and you can see why.

Birds are difficult for me to identify because they seem to be constantly changing plumage.  First there is the difference in males and females, then the juveniles and the adults, and finally a difference in plumage when birds are breeding and when they aren't!  Think of it as their dating season and they get all gussied up.  To give you a good example of how difficult identification can be for an amateur, take a look at this site Black-bellied Plover which shows what they look like in NON-breeding season.   

Thanks for helping me out on this, Rebecca!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Point

The high winds and currents created a new, sweeping tidal pools around the west tip of the island which we call "The Point", and it happened just since my patrol last Sunday!

I have seen several tidal pool of the Gulf side near the western end, but not right at the tip of the island.

I was surprised not to find a host of sea and shore birds in the area, because this is generally a favorite spot for them.  Guess they were a bit surprised by the change also!  This particular shot turned out to be a bit of a self-portrait when the shadow of me and my UTV were caught in the photo.  Oops!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Heron Alley

It was a beautiful morning at Ft. Pickens.  I call this area "Heron Alley" for obvious reasons.  There were two more Blue Herons in the group as I arrived, but unfortunately they were young and more skittish about being photographed. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fishing Friday

I've discovered a favorite spot for fishermen on Pensacola Beach!  They are VERY serious and aren't happy when they have to reposition for me to get through.  Luckily it's not a problem most of the time!