Archive for Birds

Mar
25

Beachcombing on Sanibel Island

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Sanibel Shelling by Pam Rambo shelling

It still amazes me to walk the beach to see miles of seashells lining the coast…

paradise shells on a sanibel beach

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.

Joann collects seashells on Sanibel

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.

Joanns sea shells of sanibel island island

Her brother Harry and his wife Joann (easy to remember!) from Tampa were thrilled to find so many shells they remembered as kids.

harry joann collecting shells on sanibel island florida

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!”

four olive shells and a conch

Come beach combing with me and you’ll see why I had to meet Harry and the Joanns. Click on the video…YouTube Preview Image

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…

sanibel snowy egret bird profile

A BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER….

Black-bellied Plover on Sanibel Island Florida

And a WILLET…

willet bird on Sanibel Island, Florida

We also loved adding to this shell tree.

island inn sanibel shell tree

I made a wish when I added my shell…

Sanibel shell shrub

It was a perfect way to end a beautiful day…

sunset through a shell tree

wish upon a seashell tree

Wishing upon a shell shrub :)

sunset sea shell tree

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!

shellabaloo 5

 

apple snails shells lee county florida

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“.

invasive apple snail shell colors

I finally made it to the preserve and was thrilled to find my first one… they are huge!

Apple snail shell lee county florida Pomacea insularum

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?

susan pam harns marsh preserve

We had to park our car at the entrance and walk about a quarter mile until we reached some trees by the water…

walk barns marsh preserve bird sanctuary lee county

Empty APPLE SNAIL shells were lined up all along these trees. SS Susan turned that Sanibel Stoop right into the Snail Stoop.

collecting apple snail shells florida

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….

apple snail Apple snail shell  Pomacea insularum in marsh

Their were OPERCULUMS were laying right along the same path. This empty shell had it’s OPERCULUM laying right beside this one.

apple snail shell  Pomacea insularum operculum

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

collection of apple snail shells fort myers florida

So cool, right? Some of them may look like they were already cleaned but trust me… cleaning these shells was a grungy job.

apple snail shell collection fort myers florida

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!

apple snail shell Pomacea insularum fort myers florida

Each one has a different color pattern. So lovely.

apple snail shell Pomacea insularum aperture

This was the largest one and the smallest one I found for the day.

small big Apple snail shell Pomacea insularum

Here are a few of the OPERCULUMS I picked up…

Apple snail shell Pomacea insularum operculums

We saw their pink egg clusters on the tree trucks and marsh reeds…

pink egg sacks apple snail Pomacea insularum

…And even laying in the grasses.

apple snail egg mass pink

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…

Little blue heron barns marsh preserve florida

We also saw two SANDHILL CRANES!

Sandhill Cranes Harns Marsh preserve florida

SS Susan is a GEOCACHER so found a geocache while we were there too.

geocache harns marsh preserve fort myers

After signing her geocache booklet, she left one of her APPLE SNAILS in the box as a little trinket.

apple snail in a geocache fort myers florida

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!

Apple snail colorful shells Pomacea insularum

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.  

shelling adventures trips by pam

Nov
11

Weekend Of Wonder

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sunset sanibel bay with dock yellow sky

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

bentley the dog sanibel stoop

I wonder if I will ever get tired of watching people do the Sanibel Stoop? Oh no I won’t!

sanibel stoop before the rain

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.

lindsay new hampshire vickie ga shelling

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…

cheryl dick cape coral seashells

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

sand dollars, feather, seashells

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!

sandy beach captiva blind pass

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.

ibis birds sanibel blind pass tree stumps

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!

sanibel birds ibis feeding

shelling adventures trips by pam

Categories : Ibis, Sand Dollar, Sunsets
Comments (23)
Nov
08

Another Day Cruising Around Paradise

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shells pile on the beach of cayo costa

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.

vera pine island finding seashells cayo costa cruise

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….

Patti Goodwin Nova Scotia Linda shell florida

Along with the WORM SHELLS, their other favorite they found were BABY’S EARS, ANGEL WINGS and COCKLES…

babes ears wormies angel wings cockles

Vicky form Ft Myers loves the minis so she found a pile of shells to sort through and practice the “Sit N Sift”…

vicky ross collecting shells cayo costa

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!

hanif canada sanibel stoop in tree roots

Lesley from Texas said this LIGHTNING WHELK rolled right up in the wash line in the same area by the tree roots…

lesley tx found a whelk at cayo costa

I met so many lovely shellers like Kim from Punta Gorda….

Kim punta gorda shelling cayo costa

…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!

bunky pam visit cayo costa sand dollar

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!

kim ed RI collecting shell in an onion bag

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!

alphabet cone found on cayo costa

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?

Candice Ken Missouri olive bracelet shelling

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.

debbie ken captiva cruises shelling cruise

Penny from England brought a happy jar of sunshine that she collected in the Channel Islands.

penny from UK brings seashells from 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.

flat periwinkles Littorina obtusata channel islands

The sea repaid her for sharing her shells from across the pond… she found a perfect ALPHABET CONE on Cayo Costa…

shells at cayo coast gulf coast cruise

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!

seashells litter the beach on cayo costa

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.

tricolored Heron south florida gulf coast

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…

shelling group tour collect seashells

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!

Nov
01

Positively Perfect Paradise

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sanibel melon rough scallop

Nothing starts the holiday season better than finding a positively perfect pumpkin ROUGH SCALLOP. Ooooh… I loooove to find ROUGH SCALLOPS with the “wings” still in tact and especially in a solid color…like pumpkin.

rough scallop melon color

 The pumpkin SCALLOP wasn’t the only thing to make the day positively perfect, I saw my friends “The Carolina Girls” on the beach at Island Inn. Remember these cutie pies? They were part of the first Shellabaloo at the Island Inn last January. We had so much fun at the Shellabaloo, they wanted to come back! Here are the nicest (and craziest!) gals you’ll ever want to meet- Helen, Carol, Jackie, Karen and Kathy…

carolina girls shell sanibel florida

Karen found this awesome ALPHABET CONE… to go with the other 2 she found as well. Wow!

alphabet cone karen sanibel

Here are some of their favorite finds of the late afternoon low tide shelling

favorite shells from sanibel

The Carolina Girls brought a newbie sheller (Carol) with them this time and it seems she caught on to this shelling thing pretty quickly. They told her what to look for and she quickly pulled out an ALPHABET CONE and said “is this a good one?” Ha! They couldn’t believe it! Carol went right out and bought a shadowbox to frame for her newly found Sanibel shell. Here’s Carol with her trophy and Karen with her own ALPHABET CONE (in addition to the others!) and a KINGS CROWN.

carol karen i love shelling sanibel

Carol also found these beautiful LINED TREE SNAILS (land snails) near the pathway to the beach at Island Inn. I don’t see these very often- they are so pretty!

lined tree snail sanibel Drymaeus multilineatus

I saw this BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER running along the shoreline. Errrrr… Hey buddy, did you lose your “black belly”? LOL I found out that adult non-breeding BLACK- BELLIED PLOVERS don’t have a back belly. hmmmm Wouldn’t have been nicer (and more inclusive) if they had name them the “BLACK-BEAKED PLOVER” or something like that? Oh well, you are what you are I guess.

black-bellied plover adult non-breeding sanibel

 

It was a positively perfect day in paradise finding a pumpkin SCALLOP and hanging with the nicest peeps on the planet- The Carolina Girls.

island inn sanibel sunset

sunset sanibel shell reflection

Don’t miss  Shellabaloo 4 at the Island Inn January 6-9 to make memories for a life time. For more info CLICK HERE

shelling adventures trips by pam

Oct
29

As The Island Terns

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sand and shells sanibel mermaid

As October is coming to an end, so is SEA TURTLE nesting season. This means that most or all of the nests have hatched already so we don’t have to worry about those little babies making their way from the nest to the water …. sooooo ….bring on the beach art!

mermaid beach art

Seasons come and go and so do the shells and BEACH BLING. Over the weekend I found some sweet juvie SAND DOLLARS but I went back to Gulfside City Park today and didn’t find any at all. Not one! But that’s what shelling is all about… enjoy the treasures that Mother Nature has put before you at the moment because they may not be there any other day.

sand dollar day flower

I had a few extra minutes today so I ran to the Lighthouse Beach since I haven’t been hanging out there as much lately. So happy I did. It’s always a good day when I find a BROAD PAPER COCKLE!

broad paper cockle sanibel shell

In just a few minutes I could have picked up oodles of CERITHS and in the same spot…. one LIGHTNING WHELK, one TULIP, a TARPON SCALE and what I think is the smallest double PONDEROUS ARK I’ve ever seen. Honestly, I haven’t had time to inspect it so it could be a double TRANSVERSE ARK but it had that beautiful black periostracom. They look so much alike! If I figure it out, I’ll take better photos then do another post.

seashells and tarpon scale sanibel

Okay, I HAVE to share the funniest comment on my last post that made me literally laugh out loud today. Really, I was hanging with some friends this afternoon and I snuck a peak at my iPhone to see a new blog comment from Andrea.  I didn’t want to be rude, but I read the first line and got completely engrossed then let out a huge belly laugh. I know, so rude to my friends but after I read the comment to them, we all laughed out loud together. So this is the photo of ROYAL TERNS (and SANDWICH TERNS) I posted that Andrea commented on…

royal tern wing span sanibel florida

Andrea wrote…

I guess they wanted to take terns shelling.
I hope it doesn’t take a tern for the worst!
They say one good tern deserves another.
I hope they re-tern to Sanibel when I’m there!

OK, I’m done with the tern jokes.

Just hope everyone doesn’t tern on me!”

LOL Thank you Andrea, it terned out so great I just had to share it again.

terns fly sanibel florida

Our next Shelling Adventure is November 7… Join Us!

Sanibel Cayo Costa Tours