30 November 2008

One More Family Photo

I promise the next post will be about turtles, but I had to post one from Sebastian's baptism for my family to see... It may be a long time before all the aunts and uncles are in the same country again!

26 November 2008

Meeting Sebastian

I don't normally post family stuff on this blog, but I have to post some photos of my newest nephew, Sebastian. I finally met him on Tuesday, and he's already seven months old. The fact that he lives in Sweden makes it harder to stop in for a visit!

Isn't he adorable? I'll have to get a photo of him in his turtle clothes :)

He seems pretty enamored with his Uncle Gustav (Helene's brother), who will soon be his godfather as well.

Gabe is enjoying the visit as well -- check out the wild rastafari hat he got at Disney last month.

And, of course, the four siblings. We're all actually in the same country! We'll get better pictures on Saturday when we're all not sleep deprived from our various journeys.

24 November 2008

Clam Creek, Jekyll Island

As you may have heard, the traveling turtle girl is traveling these days :)

I had a long drive back to Delaware, and made it even longer by driving to the Georgia coast before heading north. I wanted to see the new Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and visit one of my favorite spots in the USA -- Clam Creek.

It's not at all like Pensacola, but it's still gorgeous.

The entrance, with the graceful Spanish moss-draped live oaks is enchanting.

The pictures don't do it justice; it's like driving through a deeply-shaded tunnel, which is incredibly welcome in the heat of a summers day!

There are egret models here as well.

Some beach-combers commented on how co-operative the birds were as they watched me snap away. Of course, the abscence of an ATV may have helped!

Of course, eventually s/he had enough and flew to a nearby marsh.

Maybe it was just lunchtime!

You know you're in Georgia when the shrimp boats stack up, arriving from a bountiful trip to sea. Georgia is fantastic shrimp territory, and the captains are great about using TEDS and rescuing turtles!

We call the beach here either boneyard, graveyard or driftwood beach. Driftwood isn't really appropriate as most of these trees have fallen from the maritime forest as the island erodes at the north end.

The trees initially die from salt water flooding, then fall once the underlaying beach erodes beneath their roots. It's an amazing place to play at low tide -- at high tide, they are nearly covered with water!

You can see some of the tiny drainage/erosion channels here, though it's likely just a few sand grains traveling down this path.

I'll post more on the Georgia Turtle Center in a separate post.

22 November 2008

Farewell to Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida

It was my final day on the beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore. I was disappointed that it was so windy and cold - it made the birds rather shy as they sought warmth in the frigid weather.

I did get a few shots, but I had to work for them! This crawl isn't a turtle crawl - it's a turtle girl crawl... It was the only way to get a photo with the skittish birds.

They seemed to fly at the drop of a hat today. They really needed some warm sunshine.

I have so enjoyed my time here, and will miss the gorgeous gulf greatly, but I know there are fantastic adventures ahead. Thanks so much for following my blog to see how the beach is doing.

Things will change drastically in the next year as road work continues -- the road to Fort Pickens should be finished by April!

20 November 2008

Glaucous Gull at Fort Pickens

It was a gorgeous day for a bird survey at Fort Pickens today, though the birds are very skittish with all the road equipment!

There was one unusual gull on the north shore that Bob and Lucy Duncan have confirmed for me -- I never trust my own identification...

It's coloring is so unusual compared to our more prevalent laughing, ring billed and herring gulls. I'm still waiting for the flocks of Bonapartes to arrive!

18 November 2008

It's Freezing on the Beach!!!

I know I've been bad about posting lately, but that's because it's been too cold for photos and I want to save the text posts for my trip to Delaware next week...

I did get out to the beach today at Perdido and it was COLD! I let Cathy take a photo of me in my three jackets, sweatshirt and three pairs of pants. I could hardly move, but it was still too cold for my taste. And yes, Mom, I wore a hat (well two hoods and a balaclava and ear muffs). Delaware will be tough!

There were very few birds, and I didn't take any photos of them, though I did catch Cathy, a park VIP who finally admits it was 'a bit chilly'. Check out her chilly outfit -- I'd hate to see what she wears when she thinks it's cold!

The wind was the real culprit on the beach, so we stopped from time to time to catch our breath, and Cathy searched for shells.

There were great contrasts in size,

of both shells and crab claws,

and color.

It may not have been on my 'to do' list, but it was still fun! Now I just need to thaw out a bit :)

13 November 2008

Seasonal Birds

People say there are no seasons in Florida. I think it's that the seasonal cues are a little different from what people are used to.

All the osprey have fledged and fly around,

chasing fish...

Great blue herons, young and old, spend more time in the sunlight,

Redheads, mergansers, scaups, scoters, Canada geese, and other fowl join the fun.

The unmistakable buffleheads fly in.

The flocks of dunlin join the fray. See, there are seasons -- the chicks are grown, the turtles are all hatched, the wind blows a little more briskly and fall IS here!

Fog, Light and Mirrors

The day started out shrouded in heavy fog. It felt as if I were walking in the clouds as I walked around Perdido Key (that's another story... I got the ATV very stuck in the mud).

The sun came out in fits and starts, promising a sunny day then dipping back behind it's gauzy veil.

Around 10 am, the sun finally took a firm stand, lighting the water, the beach and the sky.

It was worth waiting for! After our wintery October, it was nice to be warm again!

11 November 2008

PB8201 Assessment

Sally and I met with VIP DJ early this morning to assess the last nest of the season, Pensacola Beach 8201. The lone hatchling I released on Saturday is still the only one swimming in the Gulf. That's the bad news...

The good news is that there are three hatchlings, and about 40 eggs, in the office. We finished assessing the nest as it was 72 hours post hatch, but there were some eggs that still looked viable. Rather than open them at the assessment, we're retaining them for a few days to see if the warmer weather in the office may allow them time to hatch.

They've already shown a little progress... The bottom pipped hatchling in this photo was so sluggish on the beach that we weren't even sure it was alive, until it had warmed up a bit in the morning sun. It can be a dangerous thing for these little guys to be so cold in the nest!

It may not work. Sometimes, it does, as in the case of the lone hatchling from SR 8061. Often, it doesn't. This nest is pretty sketchy anyway. It was interesting this morning to see how the nest stopped developing. There were several eggs that stopped in the first two weeks, at stage 1, 2 or 3, and several that stopped developing around three to four weeks, at stage 4 or 5. (Don't worry - I'll spare you those photos!) These dates correspond well with flooding events associated with Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The earliest failed eggs likely died during Tropical Depression Fay, which was just about three days after this nest was laid. It's interesting, in a sad and clinical way, to see that unfold in the nest, and it's a good lesson about relocation sites for next year. Clearly, the eggs need to be a little further north!

It's great to see we still have a few determined hatchlings in the nest though...

They may be trapped in their eggs 22 days longer than expected, but they still show a lot of spunk!

This guy looks very determined to go for a swim. I wouldn't get between him and the sea as he makes his final dash for the waves!

International Coastal Clean-Up!

The 2008 Coastal Clean-Up on Santa Rosa Island was a great success, but we can work together to make everyday a Coastal Clean-up Day... Help us keep our beaches beautiful!

For details on the 2009 coastal clean-up efforts in Pensacola or in your area, or other ways you can help, click here.

Hello World!

Hello World!
Which way to the sea?