Archive for Birds
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!
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.
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…
Karen found this awesome ALPHABET CONE… to go with the other 2 she found as well. Wow!
Here are some of their favorite finds of the late afternoon low tide shelling…
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 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!
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.
It was a positively perfect day in paradise finding a pumpkin SCALLOP and hanging with the nicest peeps on the planet- The Carolina Girls.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…
“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.
Our next Shelling Adventure is November 7… Join Us!
It was SAND DOLLAR mania at Gulfside City Park this weekend! It’s a very special day to take a walk along the shore to see little tiny SAND DOLLARS washing up at your feet…
My friend Betsy and I decided to meet at Gulfside City Park for a few hours to walk the beach and do a little shelling. She’s lived on the island for a long time so of course she has perfected the Sanibel Stoop…
We’ve been good friends for YEARS and it’s the first time we’ve ever planned a walk on the beach together. What took us so long?
Maybe its because she is a very busy gal running the Sanibel Farmers Market …. which she has Good news! The Sanibel Farmers Market opens this next Sunday November 4! Yippee! So she had to get her shelling in now before the local food fun begins.
We had soooo much fun finding those little SAND DOLLARS and shells then it got even better. We saw our friend Lori with her granddaughter Julianna…
Julianna wanted to pick up every shell on the beach. She said ”All of them are beautiful!” then she showed me the different colors and patterns of each one.
She learned how to tell if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not by looking for the tiny hairs (or cilia) around it. On the left of the photo (click on it to enlarge), she is showing a live SAND DOLLAR with lots of the “fur” around the sides and in her other hand is the dead SAND DOLLAR that she can put in her bucket to take home to always remember this day. Thanks Julianna for showing us the difference.
Melissa, Jack and Robin were on a day trip from Palm Beach to do a little shelling because they said they loooove shelling at Gulfside City Park.
I couldn’t help but notice this awwweeesome SPONGE Melissa was carrying. Wow! I think is the coolest SPONGE I’ve ever seen on Sanibel so I tried to research it to find out what type of SPONGE it is… no luck. I felt like I saw hundreds of different SPONGES in my research but none looked like this one so if you happen to know a SPONGE expert out there, lemme know what this species is, ok? Anyhoo, I hope that dries well and you get to display it with the rest of your treasures, Melissa. Good find!
Jack was so excited about all of his treasures, he plopped right down in the sand and surf and started making sand angels. OMG I love it! Sometimes I feel like I want to do that too, Jack! Good for you for soaking in every drop of happiness being on that beach. I might just have to try it this week too. (Doesnt he look like a sweet little STARFISH? heehee)
The weather this weekend was perfect… high 70s to low 80s with low humidity and plenty of sunshine so it was another beautiful weekend in paradise.
FYI- After searching and walking for a couple of hours to find those tiny SAND DOLLARS in the water, we realized they were a few on the shore when the tide was at its lowest. I hope they are there tomorrow too!