Beach, FL 32034
Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)
With Bruce doing a complete operating system
rebuild on my computer and needing it for days of new installations of
all my programs and files to my new 2 Tb hard drive, (whatever
that means...), I have
been a bit handicaped trying to
get a story put together. When that happens I do get behind
try to put too much into a story. This is such a time.
as I write,
I sit waiting for a our tropical storm Beryl to decide just how strong
it will be and if the power will hold on to allow it to be finished.
It is definitely getting stronger as we are hearing
things hitting on the skylights and also unusual wind whistling sounds
as the intensity builds. I wonder how these birds are faring
their tall exposed perch at the back of the park. I know they
now have chicks having seen the tops of their heads a couple
times. My hope is to get to do turtle patrol sometime
(Monday) to assess the damage to our 6 turtle nests.
am concerned about Lacy our squirrel. She, as of a couple
of weeks ago decided to give up her lovely safe and dry little
condo for the tree tops, and tonight a lot of what is
up there will be on the ground by tomorrow. I should
just kept her inside when she stopped by for a visit earlier, but she
left before I expected her to go, and now is somewhere in all that wind
first two weeks of Turtle Patrol have been exciting with six nests
already under our belt. Problem is they may or may not be
tomorrow. After the first one we had very high "Super Moon"
Spring tides, already
washing over that one. As a result the other nests
have been laid above
that high water mark so we will cross or fingers that they will be OK.
The beach had already been swept clean by
those tides and only the fresh tracks of the deer mingled in
humanoid footprints on the surface much like tracks on a new fallen
water had reached the very top of the beach area where the minor dunes
start. You can see that line where the brown shelly area is
bordered by the white line of the dunes.
and lots of new baby Wilson's Plovers have been doing their Roadrunner
imitations scurrying in front of the beach buggy. I do have
access to a Four Wheeler this year also but sometimes it is just too
much trouble to move all the equipment over to it. Plus it
had some battery problems and the possibility of being stranded on the
beach (as happened the first time I took it out) is not something I
relish. It is a girl ego thing in a male dominated world up
at the park.
have never seen as many Horseshoe Crabs as we have had following those
higher than normal tides. I assisted about 20 in just one
back to the water after becoming stuck in the sand, turned upside down,
or getting disoriented.
From the tail marks you can tell this one has really worked
hard to get loose from his "sand trap"
but the sand gets so hard that I cannot dig it loose with my finger
tips and have to find a shell or some type of digging tool to free
them. These critters have been aound so long, they were here
freed, they would usually find their way back to the sea.
so many I left them
to do just that only carrying them to the water if they were still
stuggling on my return trip.
mornings with low tide gave me a good experience with one of my
patterns. It could easily have been cast in silver with the
giving it a nice sheen.
took the drawings from one of my old Sea Turtle paintings and did it in
a more loose, less representational style using a different painting
technique, smooth paper and liquid acrylics. I had done the
when I did the other painting and finally pulled it out to work on, so
that I would have a new watercolor to enter in a painting competition.
I did receive an honor this past week, which I did not
it did not have to do with art. I was selected as Volunteer
Month for District 2 of the State Parks of Florida. There are
districts in the state and lots of deserving volunteers.
boss, did a good job of writing up a very flattering blurb which seemed
to work. A nice honor for my 10th year of service.
the flickering of the lights I think it is time to put electronic
things aside and try to get some sleep as things go bump during the
night outside. It could be a long one. This big
gives you a clue that I got my wish to go back to the Alligator Farm to
see the hatchlings there.
Update; A few days have passed since I
to bed with Beryl on my doorstep. The storm is now all gone
and the weather is calm and sun-shiny again.
By midnight on Sunday a neighbor's tree
had fallen over our power lines knocking out power for over
hours. There is much debris in our yard to get to
the street for pick up. We had Ocellia and her daughter
Ariana with us for the duration
so they now have their bucket list wish of getting to ride out a
hurricane (or at least within 3 mph of a hurricane). Lacy
the storm in fine style. Now I will
continue my Alligator farm trip in search of babies. When I
boardwalk was filled with tourists and photographers trying to do just
what I was trying for, get great shots of the baby birds.
One of my most favorite birds is the Little Blue
Heron which is looking a bit ruffled in the new role of parent.
This mom appears to be suffering from Post Partum
Depression as she seems to be saying, "No more, no more".
Her chicks seem to be waiting impatiently and
unsympathetically for their next meal.
first Roseate Spoonbill chicks had already reached full size.
pale pink color and still fuzzy neck feathers indicate its young age.
They do grow up quickly. The mom was just sitting
egg the last time I was here.
And then the comedians of the aviary world, the
very funny youngsters of the Tri Colored Herons.
The chicks mostly want to eat and the parents are
totally focused, in fulfilling that need.
nest should make lots of photographers happy because I believe it will
be close enough to get some good photos in a few days.
the chicks grow the feeding rituals become very intense and would make
any parent want to shrink into a ball to escape but instead they seem
to just close their eyes, grin and bear it.
biggest and possibly ugliest of the chicks have, at least for now, some
hair on the tops of their heads. As they grow up the head
will become bald and black in America's only stork, the American
This Snowy Egret stands up for a brief time to
turn her pretty blue eggs.
Then its back to the job of sitting on the eggs.
numbers of birds who gather in this site to breed and have their chicks
is amazing, and it's a great treat to get to see it all transpire so
what I really came for was to find these beautiful little pink fuzzy
new-borns. It was quite a task, jockeying through
photographers to catch a
of these rock stars of our bird world. The viewing space was
limited and I hated to hog it when so many, with so much better cameras
than mine, wanted to see also. I did the best I could under
and I did manage to catch a few good ones but a lot of bad ones also.
little Tri Colored chicks are transfixed as they
stare at the mom, waiting for her to decide to produce breakfast.
thought this one was only sitting on eggs but not so sure that she
doesn't have small chicks down in that nest. I have seen
birds sit like this creating a tent to shelter either eggs or babies
from the hot sun overhead.
is still in the air as some, like this very fluffy Little
Snowy was courting a female. A very impressive courtship
in a very quick and not so showy mating experience but he gets the job
"ugly duckling" little ones seem to be contemplating the future and
whether they will every grow into these big, big legs and feet.
Some very tiny, newly hatched, little Cattle
Egrets are tended to by their mom.
squeeze back into the photographers line up just in time to see the mom
feed her babies. I found it very difficult to get a good shot
the actual food passing that wasn't fuzzy but still thought this was a
one. I couldn't tell if I was focused or not looking at an
already fuzzy subject so opted to focus on the mom and sometimes that
parent opens its beak enough for the little one to reach into it
without the violence of the Great White Egrets. A much more
and less frantic feeding process.
I was happy to get at least a few decent shots
after coming all this way just to see them.
More egg sitting.
parents are still feeding these youngsters from the first nest which
hatched and that was interesting to watch as you could see that big
long spoonbill beak bulge out the side of the mom's neck.
My own gag reflex was about to kick in just thinking about it.
When they start sprouting those first feathers
they can look pretty scraggly.
excuse for the trip was to meet my son, Eric, and his shrinking family
unit for a pre-Mother's Day lunch. Granddaughter Emily, at 21, has now
moved out so they are experiencing a bit of the empty nest
Eating at a fun restaurant on the waterfront at the Mantanza Inlet,
with the presence of lots of birds, especially these none-too-shy
Grackles, we enjoyed the humorous signs posted all around the deck
things like "don't feed the birds, what goes in must come out", and
"don't throw rocks in the water or you will be thrown in to feed the
out from the deck was a sand bar loaded with Pelicans and shorebirds,
unlike the Marsh birds I had been with all morning.
real destination for the trip was to make a short visit to Marineland
where Tanner, the grandson, had once upon a time done the swimming with
the dolphins thing they have there. The dolphins are in big
and like to swim by the viewing area and play with balls just for their
own entertainment. They are also on standby to interact with
paying customers. For a small fee you can go in and watch the
interaction without the swim with the dolphins expense.
is much cheaper than the Sea World experience. They do have
another fee for just going in and interacting with the dolphins from
side of the pool which is good for the smaller children. They
to watch them jump and can pet them on the nose.
all things, good and bad, must come to an end, we all headed back
our homes in opposite directions, and the storm has also gone
leaving peaceful beaches and interesting beach treasures to find.
Beryl also cost us the loss of probably 2 dozen Sea
nests, with which we had just so recently been blessed with their early
laying. No rhyme nor reason for why some were lost and others
saved but that was the way this storm worked. One which had
been moved to high ground for safety's sake was washed away.
which you would have thought should have been taken were left.
But then that is life isn't it?
always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of
nature. Thousands of hours have been
poured into them and it has even
become necessary to enlist the
services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now
receive them. With the current economic
situation, if you are able to
make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it
would be greatly appreciated.)