Monday, May 07, 2007

Walking The Beach On North Key

Meanwhile, out in the Gulf of Florida ...

Well, it's good to get out of the mangroves for a little while. The breeze has freshened a bit, but the UV is blasting, so you'd better slap on some more of this SPF 200 sunscreen.

We'll walk north along the beach. Better keep your sneakers on, this is an eroding shoreline with beaucoup fallen trees to clamber around.


Yes, I know this doesn't look like the travel brochure beaches. I grew up on those. They're on the East coast where wave energy is higher. These Gulf island beaches are not so wide, but at least this one will never have a condo or motel on it.

How can I be so sure?

Because it's a federal refuge dude, we own it together.

Hey, there's a cormorant. We can get pretty close to him since he really doesn't want to fly unless he has to do so. He's a better swimmer than flyer.

Check out the feathers on his back. Subtle, almost hidden beauty in an apparently dull colored bird.

This island really took some hits during the last few years of hurricanes. A lot of the fallen trees we're climbing over were standing not long ago. There's a big fallen oak up ahead that I have a picture of when Jr. was little. He and I are high in the living branches overlooking the beach.

Now it's horizontal and half in the water.

Hmmm? No, it's not sad, just a reminder that barrier islands aren't static. They shift, they move ... they disappear sometimes. It's why they never should have been built on in the first place.

This beach is a major horseshoe crab nesting area. Keep an eye out for mating pairs.

What? Yes, I know there's been a lot of mating at Pure Florida lately.

It's spring.

Pretty nice having an island to yourself, eh?

Yes, I know I'm here with you, but other than that. Pretty cool, you gotta admit.

Let's watch this osprey for awhile.
There he goes.
Splash, no fish.
Up, hover, shake water from wings.
There he goes.
Splash, no fish.
Up, hover, shake water from wings.
There he goes.
Splash, FISH!
If I could catch a fish on every third cast, I'd have my own show on the Sunshine Network.
We'd better head back and make sure the boat's not beached.
The tide's dropping and we still have to wade that little creek.
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Peggy said...

Thanks for the tour! Glad I wore my water sandals so I'm ready to wade the little creek...


threecollie said...

Ah, what a nice walk and no aches and pains at the sunburn either.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

I've been treated to the sight of fish-hunting cormorants swimming by me whilst scuba diving (me, not the cormorants) in the kelp beds off the California coast. Never could get the camera set up in time for a photo however.

Paintsmh said...

Ohh. i just love your photos. I wish I could have gotten my new camera out of the lunch box i am carrying it in right now this morning. We were stopped behind a school bus on the way in to school, and a massive red tailed hawk landed right next to us. Almost had it out and he flew away. I was so disappointed. :(

robin andrea said...

I love how the coast looks there. All those fallen trees remind me of our little shoreline along the bay.

More great bird pics, fc. We haven't seen any osprey yet this year. We see the cormorants every time we head down to the water. Love them when they hold their wings out.

SophieMae said...

Beautiful! So many people want to run out and 'clean up' those beaches, but I much prefer them au naturel. The osprey shot is awesome! Catching birds in flight is quite a gift.

momadness said...

Damn! Playing catch-up again, and your posts have been staggeringly wonderful as usual(except for your daughter's allergic reaction situation.) You mentioned Zanne and I thought, you are every bit as good!

ImagineMel said...

yeah, I was getting a little worried about the mating situation...I began to feel a little scared they were going to think I was hitting the sites... :) Only FOURTEEN more days! And no FRI this summer. YAY!

edifice rex said...

I had a cormorant come to my studio last summer. No, I'm not smoking anything now or then, I know that sounds crazy but he just was walking down the street and when he got in front of my place, he came to my door. He was ill and overheated so I took him in and drove him to a wildlife rehab we have here. Really cool bird and big! I'll try to find the photos.

pablo said...

It's hard to come up with a comment for your posts when all I can think to say is "I am so envious!"

Thunder Dave said...

I know you're tired of hearing this, but I had to play catch-up again:

Lightnin's correct, we've been to "______ Beach" before!

Bummer about Katie's scare! All I can say about the worrying, as the flock leaves the nest, is that it's sort of like matter: you can niether create nor destroy it, it merely changes form!

Thanks for the walk through the mangle!

Matt and I spent a weekend on my old Catalina 22 (back when he was a youngster) and we saw an Osprey dive and catch a fish in the cove we were anchored in. It was an awesome experience!

Pacing the cage here too. Only three more work days and then we head for Pensacola Beach for R&R!

rcwbiologist said...

That's interesting that the beaches on the barrier islands are so narrow there on the west coast of Florida. I thought I'd heard of sea turtles nesting on the west coast of Florida. If so, do they nest on these narrow beaches of the barrier islands and elsewhere? I would think the overwash risk might be high on the narrow beaches.

Deb said...

Here in MN the cormorants have been increasing and were even blamed for a decline in the walleye fishery in one very popular lake. Enter the sharpshooters, sanctioned nest predation, and voila! Problem solved, or so it seems.

I'm embarrassed to go to work some days...I guess nobody else notices the hidden beauty.

momadness said...

Pablo, I do understand your envy; but you have an awesome spot yourself. By the way, I mysteriously say that I hope you have a nice day Tuesday!

Floridacracker said...

Well, you do have to get out of that boat every once in a while :)

No fried chicken, pickles, and chips either. That was waiting on the boat.

Now that is a sight I never experienced while SCUBA diving.

BUT you DID have your camera with you ... that's half the battle.

Like a minature Dungeness Spit.
Our ospreys are year round and everywhere there's water.

The bird's the gift.
Yes, I like these wild beaches too.

Thanks for the complement.

It's winding down! Whale test Wednesday for you know who.

That is one amazing tale. Love to see the pics.

Don't worry, I have a very tall ladder/high tree trimming post coming soon. You always have something to say about that :)

Yup, you have played on this same beach. We were talking about that on the ride out from the boat ramp.
Pensacola ... we got some history there dude. I won't tell if you won't tell. Dorm 68 rules!

There are wider beaches north and south of us that support more seaturtle nesting. I did find evidence of one nest a few years ago. It had been dug up by a predator.

I think I read about that. Balance is tough. Tough to be a plainjane bird in that situation.

He does have an awesome site. I go there every day.

Cathy said...

It's just lovely watching over your shoulder. You captured the osprey in those lines at the finish. As for the cormorant - I was admiring those feathers in your photo before I read your remarks.

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