Archive for Birds
Signs of summer have been showing up early on the islands lately. The late afternoon billowy clouds have been rolling in on the horizon causing afternoon showers and gorgeous sunsets. I finally made it back to Bowman’s Beach the other evening to watch the sky show at sunset and to see what types of shells have been washing upon that shore.
I mostly found the common bivalves, but I was happy enough with collecting a WORM in a BUTTERCUP topped with an OLIVE and a pinch of NUTMEG.
Summer might be right around the corner, but the animals on the island know it’s still Spring. It’s been so much fun watching the wildlife in the last few weeks now that the island isn’t as busy. My friend Diane has been watching a family of NIGHT HERONS nest in her back yard so I had to go pay them a visit. Oh My! There are three young chicks in the nest with the Mamma. So sweet!
Clark and I watch this ALLIGATOR cross the road right in front of us in our car last week. Yikes! It’s still mating season for them so he was moving pretty quickly from one pond to another (thank goodness). This was the best photo I could get with such short notice. LOL
Last night by the Sanibel Pier, I couldn’t peel myself away from watching this awesome OSPREY catch and feed on a nice size POMPANO fish. Clark and I watched him eat this fish dinner for maybe 20 minutes all while his family screeched and yelled at him to bring fish dinner back to the nest only 20 yards away.
As we started to walk away from the OSPREY show, a Mother DOLPHIN and her baby splashed out of the water next to the pier then a MANATEE swam by. Magical. Since the wildlife was the life of the party last night, the only shell I collected to bring home was this BABY’S EAR.
That one shell was well worth an evening’s walk on the beach to witness more wild wonders of life on Sanibel.
Join us on tomorrow for an iLoveShelling Cruise to Cayo Costa with Captiva Cruises! Call 239-472-5300
Combing the beach as the sun sets over the Sanibel fishing pier reminds us why we love our home.
After getting back from Grand Bahama Island, we couldn’t wait to breathe in our own beach. We were greeted by a beautiful view of our lighthouse with an OSPREY keeping close to watch over it.
This majestic creature posed for me long enough to let me snap this photo…
Mr HERMIT CRAB came out of his LIGHTNING WHELK home to say “Hi!”.
We saw many beautiful and empty shells on our own beach of Sanibel but didn’t collect any since we had already collected so many CARIBBEAN SHELLS from the Bahamas which still needed to be cleaned. Now I’m done! These are the shells we found within 2 days shelling the east end of the island and going on our boating adventure with Joel (I’ve now learned he spells his name Joel but pronounced Joe-L like I wrote in my last post). We always love to find so many different species like this.
Here’s a close up of some of shells and BEACH BLING. Gorgeous, right? One day, oh… one day, I will identify all of these on one post but until then, I have other posts with identification of most of them on our other shelling trips in the Caribbean -CLICK HERE.
And BTW… Happy Mothers Day to my sweet mom and all of you wonderful mothers out there! My kitties have been as sweet as pie to me today so thank you for a wonderful day my beautiful Dustie…
And thank you to my baby boy RustBucket (his newest name is PuppyCat- he fetches!)… even though I busted you eating my plants today.
It still amazes me to walk the beach to see miles of seashells lining the coast…
Joann from New Jersey remembered her mother used to make jewelry from the shells she collected on Sanibel so wanted to come back to do the same.
Combing the beach back and forth in front of Island Inn Sanibel, she found BANDED TULIPS, FIGHTING CONCH, OLIVES, LIGHTNING WHELKS, COQUINAS, CALICO SCALLOPS, APPLE MUREXES and a sweet colorful NUTMEG.
Her brother Harry and his wife Joann (easy to remember!) from Tampa were thrilled to find so many shells they remembered as kids.
Sandy McFadin had commented on my iLoveShelling Facebook page last week asking what the shelling was like at Island Inn. Hmmm I hadn’t been in a while so this is for you Sandy! And… Sarah the ShellAnimal had requested another video so I started shooting a video at the Island Inn before the rain came in to chase us all off the beach. While I panned around to the shore, I caught Harry walking towards me then stopping to pick up a shell. Then he called out “Hey, I found four OLIVES!”
The evening before this, Clark and I walked this same stretch of beach for sunset where Clark found a perfect FLAT SCALLOP and we had fun watching all of the birds like this beautiful SNOWY EGRET…
A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER….
And a WILLET…
We also loved adding to this shell tree.
I made a wish when I added my shell…
It was a perfect way to end a beautiful day…
Wishing upon a shell shrub
With a beautiful beach, shells, sunsets and lively wildlife… it’s the perfect place to gather people who love shelling to join me for a 4 day shellathon during Shellabaloo! It’s coming up soon so don’t miss out for our April 24 event! CLICK HERE for more details. I love to meet new shellers!
Can you believe all of these gorgeous shells were found in SouthWest Florida? Yep! I found all of these APPLE SNAILS (Pomacea insularum) at Harns Marsh Preserve in Lehigh Acres, Florida about an hour from Sanibel. For years, I’ve been wanting to go check this place out ever since I met Kathy from Colorado who showed me one of her APPLESNAILS I wrote about in my post “Finally, A Recipe For Finding A Junonia“.
I finally made it to the preserve and was thrilled to find my first one… they are huge!
Just trying to find Harns Marsh Preserve was quite an adventure since there are no road signs- I guess because it’s not a city or state park. So that started the whole journey as quite a treasure hunt in itself. Then once we found it…. On to hunt for APPLE SNAILS! Soul Sister Susan donned her hiking boots, satchel and bug spray while I armed myself with old tennis shoes, long pants and a very strong walking stick. We didn’t know what to expect to find but knew we were going to be walking near marshy water which means (in Florida) there could be lots of bugs, red ants and more importantly… alligators. Errrr… That wasn’t really a “walking stick” … I would be more inclined to call it my “harpoon” … or should I say “Shellpoon”. Ha! I am a nervous wreck being anywhere near the edge of any inland pond so I just feel a weeee bit more safe with some sort of weapon. It’s better to be safe, right?
We had to park our car at the entrance and walk about a quarter mile until we reached some trees by the water…
Empty APPLE SNAIL shells were lined up all along these trees. SS Susan turned that Sanibel Stoop right into the Snail Stoop.
These APPLE SNAILS are actually an invasive land snail that are not native to Florida and they have threatened native species. They grow and breed very quickly so maybe that’s why we saw so many empty shells laying in the tall grasses just like this….
Their were OPERCULUMS were laying right along the same path. This empty shell had it’s OPERCULUM laying right beside this one.
We got back to the car after a couple of hours and SS Susan dumped her shells out of her bag. OMG Look how many shells! LOL
So cool, right? Some of them may look like they were already cleaned but trust me… cleaning these shells was a grungy job.
I soaked mine for two days in a bucket of fresh water then emptied that nasty water to refill the bucket and shells with a round of fresh water and 1/8 bleach to soak for a couple of hours. You have to be very careful though. Susan said she had picked up some shells that looked like they had spider webs on them and while she was started cleaning them, she saw a big spider in the bucket. Yikes! I didn’t see any siders in mine so I rinsed them all, shot the aperture of the shell with the outside hose nozzle then scrubbed each one with a vegetable brush. I didn’t even have time to put mineral oil on them but I don’t think I they need it. They were naturally this glossy and colorful!
Each one has a different color pattern. So lovely.
This was the largest one and the smallest one I found for the day.
Here are a few of the OPERCULUMS I picked up…
We saw their pink egg clusters on the tree trucks and marsh reeds…
…And even laying in the grasses.
This preserve is really just a water retention area that has become a birder’s paradise since the area provides perfect conditions for so many different species of birds. The APPLE SNAIL is the favorite meal for the KITE SNAIL so you have a better chance of spotting this rarely seen bird at Harns Marsh Preserve … although we didn’t see one. But I did spot this LITTLE BLUE HERON which is the first time I’ve ever gotten to photograph this bird…
We also saw two SANDHILL CRANES!
SS Susan is a GEOCACHER so found a geocache while we were there too.
After signing her geocache booklet, she left one of her APPLE SNAILS in the box as a little trinket.
We brought home such amazing ISLAND APPLE SNAIL souvenirs to remember such a fabulous day exploring a new area, shelling, bird watching and geocaching and learning all while having so much fun spending the day with my friend Susan. Lovely!
Oh but wait… this is weird. Ironically, Clark’s business partner Joe Ginsberg was walking his dog last week in Fort Myers when our local CBS news affiliate interviewed him about these same ISLAND APPLE SNAIL EGGS. They told Joe the eggs are extremely toxic if they are eaten by pets and kids so they wanted to warn folks of what the eggs look like to keep a distance from them. I had no idea that these snails had invaded neighborhoods in Fort Myers … or that Joe was on TV. After Clark told Joe about the APPLE SHELLS I found, Joe told him about the interview. WHOA! Take a look for yourself about these toxic pink egg clusters (and to meet Joe)… CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK. And for more info on Harns Marsh Preserve CLICK HERE.
When you enjoy the outdoors and comb the beaches on Sanibel as often as I do, every single day becomes a wonder. I wonder if there is going to be a magnificent sunset today? Oh yes. There often is. I wonder if dogs do the Sanibel Stoop while on the beach too? Oh yes they do. LOL
I wonder if I will ever get tired of watching people do the Sanibel Stoop? Oh no I won’t!
Those to Sanibel Stoop-ers I was wondering about were Lindsay (NH) and her mom Vickie from Georgia. They were watching in wonderment over the live LETTERED OLIVES making their trails through the sand when I caught them stooping on Gulfside City Park over the weekend.
I told them to keep going a few more yards to find some SAND DOLLARS and other shells that I saw Cheryl and Dick (Cape Coral) collecting…
I loved what they had collected…. seashells AND bling- SAND DOLLARS and a FEATHER. I know so many people get very concerned when they see folks picking up dark colored SAND DOLLARS but trust me, these were not alive. Cheryl even asked me to look over them just to be on the safe side before she put them in her bag. I’ve heard so many people say lately… “I wonder how you can tell whether a SAND DOLLAR is still alive or not”. I’ve found that it’s easiest to describe a SAND DOLLAR that is not alive as being “bald” (Mr Clean style!) so there isn’t any “hair” on them. Cheryl’s SAND DOLLARS may be dark but they were all “baldies”. LOL There was one of hers that still had some cilia/hair/fur around the sides but the complete front and back were completely bald ….. I’ll call that the George Costanza style! LOL The SAND DOLLARS breath through that cilia so if most of it is gone, they are not alive and you can collect them. So to sum it up…. Cheryl had about a dozen “Mr Cleans” and one “George Costanza”. hahahhaa
Yesterday, I checked out Blind Pass Captiva only to find a very sandy beach with just a few shells rolling up. You can still find shells in the water but you have to snorkel for them. There were so many fishermen near the jetty rocks, it’s a wonder how anybody could have shelled that area any way. Ack!
I walked over to the Sanibel side of Blind Pass near the old wooden sea wall and tree roots only to find lots of sand but a flock of beautiful IBIS birds. It’s such a wonder how the beach changes so quickly.
I’ve heard that the water is still filled with shells but you have to swim around and/or snorkel for them… but I didn’t have time to do that but I always enjoy my beach walk and I still have a few SAND DOLLARS of my own to clean up. So put on your suit and grab a snorkel if you want to find your own wonder-ful day!
This is what paradise is to me…. a warm, sunny, secluded beach filled with oodles of seashells and wildlife surrounded by clean, gorgeous water. We found paradise yesterday on the island of Cayo Costa during our iLoveShelling Cruise with Captiva Cruises. Getting to share this paradise with a boat load of shelling friends makes the day even that much more fun! I was thrilled to see Vera from Pine Island find gobs of OLIVES, CONCHS and WHELKS wading in the beautiful water.
Patti and Linda from Nova Scotia found WORMIES within minutes of each other. Patti let out a “Woop!” when she found her awesome WORM SHELL (that’s what she wanted to find) so Linda was happy for her and we did a happy dance but Linda got right to work searching for her own. A minute later Linda let our an even louder “Whaaaa!” and held up her own wormie. We got so tickled of all the commotion and had to whoop it up again. These smiles are pure happiness of being together and sharing a moment….
Along with the WORM SHELLS, their other favorite they found were BABY’S EARS, ANGEL WINGS and COCKLES…
Vicky form Ft Myers loves the minis so she found a pile of shells to sort through and practice the “Sit N Sift”…
Since there was a nice low tide, the tree roots were more exposed than I’ve seen them in a long while. Hanif from Canada took advantage of the exposed roots and plucked trapped shells from the crevices. Smart!
Lesley from Texas said this LIGHTNING WHELK rolled right up in the wash line in the same area by the tree roots…
I met so many lovely shellers like Kim from Punta Gorda….
…And sweet, generous shellers like Bunky and Pam who found a SAND DOLLAR, examined it to see if it was still alive, then returned it to the water after recognizing the signs it was still alive and healthy. I knew I would like Pam the moment she told me her name (heehee) … but OMG they brought us some their family owned Dolle’s salt water taffy they make in Ocean City, Maryland. Thank you, it’s shellicious!
Kim and Ed of Rhode Island were very clever to save a mesh onion bag for the perfect sack to hold all of their shell treasures. Cuties!
Candy and her daughter Sarah from Virginia found a nice prize… Oh yaya- An ALPHABET CONE! And thank you soooo much for writing to me Candy…. Of course… Now I remember. Virginia!
On the cruise boat, I got to meet Ken and Candace from Missouri enjoying the whole ride. Can you see why Candace is holding up her left hand? She made an OLIVE Shell String! It’s so cute! But I really wish I had taken a photo of the piece of dotted BRYOZOA she had found because I think I know what it is now. Candace, please comment on this post so I can talk to you about your unusual piece your showed me?
It was such a fun day and it was a pleasure to hang out with and shell with folks like Debbie and Ken. It seems like we all have so much in common… not just shelling.
Penny from England brought a happy jar of sunshine that she collected in the Channel Islands.
They look like lemon drop candies but they are FLAT PERIWINKLES (or Littorina obtusata). Sweet sunshine! But remember… these were not found on Cayo Costa or any where in Florida. Penny brought them from Herm Island in the Channel Islands.
The sea repaid her for sharing her shells from across the pond… she found a perfect ALPHABET CONE on Cayo Costa…
It was a perfect morning to share a delightful island shelling adventure with such a fun group. Thank you so much for a great day!
Oh- I almost forgot! I saw my first TRICOLORED HERON (or aka LOUISIANA HERON) fishing along the shore line while we were shelling. So pretty! It’s so much fun to see a new beautiful bird… Another reason why i Love Shelling.
Join us for the next iLoveShelling cruise to paradise… Errrr… I mean, Cayo Costa on December 6th, 2013 at 9am and we have other dates through May as well by CLICKING HERE. For more info click on this next image…
If you can’t make any of these dates for an iLoveShelling cruise like this one, Captiva Cruises has shelling trips most days of the week to Cayo Costa on a regular schedule. Go to their website at http://captivacruises.com . You will have a shellava good time!