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Archive for the ‘Beach Treasures – Beachcombing’ Category

A Stroll on Bryan and Quintana

Posted by E.G.D. on November 29, 2014

Last month, I drove down to Lake Jackson to do a Halloween Mad Science event at the mall there, and I couldn’t possibly justify not going to the beach while I was at it!  Now, as some of you probably know, there are a good number of options in the area, but I wound up going to Bryan and Quintana because it’s the drive with the best signage (I didn’t need a map to get there, and I didn’t have to ask directions).  Now, I have no idea what part of the beach is Bryan and what part is Quintana.  The signs sit on opposite sides of the sand road leading onto the beach highway: quintanabryan

Basically, insert road here.  These signs are even angled so that they sort of face each other.  Anyhow, it was a spectacularly beautiful day!  I found a remarkable number of beautiful shell treasures, none of which I took home (I was in the middle of a move, and when I’m moving I have a pretty strong aversion to the acquisition of things, even if they are small things), and I saw a really amazing array of birds.

Seashells galore! (E.G.D.)

Seashells galore! (E.G.D.)

So many nice shells! (E.G.D.)

So many nice shells! (E.G.D.)

I saw plovers, pelicans, and a family of seagulls that included chicks!  At least they looked a lot like the seagulls in coloring, and they were hanging out with the adult gulls.  What do you think?

Baby Gulls?  (photo by E.G.D.)

Baby Gulls? (photo by E.G.D.)

Whatever they were, they were super-cute!  Anyway, aside from shells and birds, I came across a good many people picnicking, fishing, using metal detectors, walking dogs, and swimming, and I also came across a very clever and enterprising ice cream truck.  Here in Texas, a lot of our beaches are actually designated highways, so this system actually works:

Ice cream at the beach, anyone? (photo by E.G.D.)

Ice cream at the beach, anyone? (photo by E.G.D.)

I didn’t wind up buying anything, but I was amused.  In all, it was a really delightful walk, and I certainly get the impression that everyone on the beach that day was having a really wonderful time.

Fun times! (E.G.D.)

Fun times! (E.G.D.)

Right before I left for home, the shadows were getting long, and I got artsy with my camera.  I’m not going to insert a slide show here (though I probably could!  I got a whole series of seriously artsy shots), but for fun, here’s an interesting shot of a buried driftwood branch/log. DSCN0230Aaaaaaaaaand that’s the story of my most recent trip to Bryan/Quintana.  Fun, right?  It’s a lovely beach, and I recommend it to anyone, but bear in mind that there are no restroom or shower facilities, and there didn’t appear to be a lifeguard on duty.  On the other hand, there was ice cream!  If you’re going to have to choose your amenities, that might be the better way to go on a hot day. Have a great and beachy holiday weekend, everyone! Thanksgiving, not Halloween.  Better late than never- E.G.D.

Posted in Beach Birding, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Beach Metal Detecting: 5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Hunt

Posted by Jody on August 17, 2014

Today’s Featured Writer is Glenn Stock.

Beach Metal Detecting on the Gulf Coast

Beach Metal Detecting on the Gulf Coast

Beach metal detecting is a fun outdoor hobby that can also be very profitable. What makes it so great is the opportunity to explore new areas along with the anticipation of a great find. Beaches are some of the most popular places to explore. You not only get the chance to find lost valuables but you also get to enjoy the great beach weather.

Many a beach metal detecting hobbyist has paid for his/her metal detector, and more, from just a few hours or so of metal detecting. You can too!

Metal Detecting on GalvestonBbeach at the Seawall (Across from Fort Crockett Park)

Metal Detecting on Galveston Beach at the Seawall (Across from Fort Crockett Park)

 

Tip #1: Slow down and have fun.
Remember, this metal detecting hobby is all about having fun. It’s easy to move too fast and just skim across an area believing there are no treasures below the sand – but slowing your search down will improve your odds of finding something. There are times when it may take you forever to find just one thing, but making sure to slow down and appreciate the hobby makes it all the more worthwhile.

Tip #2: Timing
Picking the best time to search the beach is an important factor in getting the beach to reveal its hidden treasures. The perfect time is when most everyone has left. This gives you a greater area to search, and you won’t have so many interruptions, either. When there aren’t as many people around, you can explore closer to the shore and even more remote areas, greatly improving your chances of discovering something valuable. Get up early. Making an early start (before anyone else arrives) is another great time to explore the beach.

Tip #3: Get Dirty
Don’t be afraid to sift through the sand; you have to get your detector close enough to sense something. Often the most prized treasures can be buried just below the surface. So get your hands dirty and start going through everything.

Tip #4: Be Prepared
Time can fly by quickly when you are intensely focused on finding that treasure. Make sure you pack something to eat (high energy bars are good) and also something to drink to keep those energy levels up throughout the day. Also remember to pack a hat, sun-glasses and some sunscreen to protect you from getting sun burnt on those hot days.

Most of all, be sure to be courteous and respectful of others. When everyone shows each other respect, everyone has fun, and the hobby never becomes a burden. Beach metal detecting isn’t only for discovering hidden treasure but also for fun and adventure, so go on, get out, and have some beach metal detecting fun in the sun.

Beach Metal Detecting

Beach Metal Detecting

About the Author: Glenn Stock has, for the last 20 years has been detecting along the Gulf Coast beaches and shallows, along with old historic homes site, civil war camps, parks, fairgrounds and just about any other place throughout the South that’s not covered with pavement. In between detecting trips he manages and writes for TreasureHunterDepot.com and is employed by The State of Texas. Follow Glenn’s tips and check out the following link to stay ahead of the curve: Beach and Shallow Water Metal Detecting.

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Featured Guest Writer, Sand and Shoreline, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

Summery Day on the South County Shore

Posted by E.G.D. on July 22, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Robyn Waayers: 

Gary and I took a little trip yesterday to explore the beach just north of Imperial Beach and south of Silver Strand State Beach. A lot of organic material had washed ashore, including masses of California Mussels, as well as much kelp.

Mussel mass with surf grass

Mussel mass with surf grass

Some of the mussels had Leaf Barnacles attached.

California Mussel with Leaf Barnacles

California Mussel with Leaf Barnacles

This is a beach popular with clammers due to its concentration of Pismo Clams. What I presumed to be immature clam shells were here and there on the shore.

A small clam - about 30 mm in length

A small clam – about 30 mm in length

 

A larger specimen, but nowhere near the final adult size!

A larger specimen, but nowhere near the final adult size!

Most of the shells on this beach are heavily wave-worn, like this Chestnut Cowrie.

Chestnut Cowrie, after much rolling around in the sand and surf

Chestnut Cowrie, after much rolling around in the sand and surf

The beach was surprisingly bird-filled, with Willets, Marbled Godwits, and Forster’s Terns being present in numbers (the Forster’s Terns in large numbers as they fished in the huge anchovy schools off shore). We also saw the occasional Royal Tern in full breeding plumage. A lone Long-billed Curlew graced the beach and we saw several more in the Tijuana Estuary area later.

Long-billed Curlew, with the Silver Strand and downtown San Diego, as well as the Coronado Bridge, visible in the background

Long-billed Curlew, with the Silver Strand and downtown San Diego, as well as the Coronado Bridge, visible in the background

We saw easily over a half dozen Snowy Plovers skulking in the higher, drier portions of the beach as well. Signs discourage people or dogs from walking in their territory, but no fences exist, as we saw in Oregon last month for the protection of this species. The plovers are extremely well camouflaged, and tend to move in short bursts of activity, as opposed to just meandering around as the Willets do.

Snowy Plover standing at the edge of a tire track!

Snowy Plover standing at the edge of a tire track!

We also saw a merganser hanging around the edge of the water, and occasionally entering the shallows. A scoter (probably a Surf Scoter) was seen fishing in the shallows, as well.

Scoter in shallow water.

Scoter in shallow water.

About the author: Robyn Waayers has lived in San Diego since 1977, and teaches biology at three local community colleges. In her spare time, she is a lover of all­ things ­natural­ history, roaming the region with her camera and an eye for new things. Her website is Shoreline Ramblings, to which she has also posted this articleAll photographs are the property of Robyn Waayers.

~~~

Posted in Beach Birding, Featured Guest Writer, Pacific Coast Beaches, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Simply Decorate with Beach Treasures

Posted by Jody on July 19, 2014

You may have enjoyed many trips to the sandy shoreline without bringing home any treasured seashells.  Me too!  Sometimes there just aren’t any seashells to be found. Other times the seashells that are sparsely scattered about the beach are only broken bits of their former glory.

No seashells? No problem!  Just bring home the real estate! We have found some beautiful beaches made up of tiny black pebbles (Yachats, Oregon comes to mind). Other beaches, especially along Northern California’s coast, are streaked with rivers of colorful, tumbled stones and agates. These lovely beach treasures can be turned into a striking display when you get them back home.

Colorful Northern California Beach Stones on Display

Tiny fragments of seashells or coral can easily be substituted for these multicolored beach treasures. With or without a candle, this is a beautiful, memory-filled decoration. As you can see below, we have our candle dish of wave polished stones displayed right next to a pitcher full of sea tumbled glass, ceramic, and seashells we found at Fort Bragg, California many, many moons ago.

Sea Glass and Beach Stones. A Lovely Combination.

There’s something very zen about running your fingers through a bowl full of tiny, smooth beach gems. Beautiful colors and shapes just keep rising to the top. Try it. You’ll like it! ;-)

How do you decorate with beach treasures?  We’d love for you to share your ideas and photos with us. Please join in and send your photos and descriptions to oneshellofafind@gmail.com, and we’ll happily show them off for you!

~~~

*You can also join us on Facebook at One Shell of a Find.*

 Published 2/23/12

Posted in Beach Treasure and Seashell Crafts, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Decorating With Beach Treasures | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Most of the Way to LA: McFaddin Beach

Posted by E.G.D. on June 17, 2014

Beautiful Day at McFaddin Beach (Photo by E. G. D.)

Beautiful Day at McFaddin Beach (Photo by E.G.D.)

The Sign (Photo by E.G.D.)

The Sign (Photo by E.G.D.)

The other day, one of my many jobs sent me to Nederland, TX, which is about two hours east of the part of Houston in which I live. I needed to be in Nederland for a grand total of two and a half hours. Crazy, right? I drove a total of four hours for a job that lasted fewer than three! Suffice it to say, I felt the need to justify all that driving with a bit of fun, and I wound up driving an extra 20 minutes east so that I could visit McFaddin Beach (and I highly recommend you click that link, because the article is EXTREMELY worthy of note, especially if you are interested in finding fossils on a beach). McFaddin Beach, also known as the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, was on fire last time I passed it by. Mom (known more commonly here as Jody) and I tried to visit Sea Rim State Park on our way to Louisiana last summer, and we didn’t make it very far because there was an extremely smoky brush fire raging there. McFaddin is immediately past Sea Rim State Park on the same road, and I am happy to report that it was absolutely fire-free this time around.

High Tide (Photo by E.G.D.)

High Tide (Photo by E.G.D.)

In fact, I had the great good fortune to enjoy it on a truly beautiful day! I was at first disappointed that I arrived at high tide (the water was all the way up to the knee-high, three-yard-wide pile of seaweed that separates the parking area from the water), but over the course of the two or three hours I wandered there, the tide receded somewhat, and I found a startling array of truly remarkable shells! I found no fewer than nine whole and completely undamaged angel wings, two brightly colored and unoccupied shark-eye snail shells, and some very nice whelk pieces, among other things. I even found a very nice piece of green sea glass.

While I wandered, I passed kids playing in the silt, a good number of adults wading, swimming, and sun bathing, and an older gentleman searching the beach with his metal detector. I watched whole flying and floating flocks of some sort of very large bird I never managed to identify. I discovered a weathered coconut, looking rather lonely and a bit out of place on a Texas beach. I startled a few ghost crabs back into their holes, and I returned a couple of beached, live snails to the water (those were actually before I discovered the two unoccupied shells). I will say, though, that I did not pass anything at all along the lines of bathroom facilities, showers, or lifeguard towers. If you plan to visit McFaddin beach (and if you happen to be anywhere near Port Arthur, you really should), bring a jug of water to rinse your feet off and go to the bathroom before leaving town! While you’re at it, I recommend that you pack a picnic, sun block, a hat, and an extra large bag in which to stow your shelling treasures. You’re in for a fun and productive day at the beach!

Anyone Know What These Birds Are? (Photo by E.G.D.)

Anyone Know What These Birds Are? (Photo by E.G.D.)

Treasures (Photo by E.G.D.)

Treasures (Photo by E.G.D.)

Fun stuff!  Have a great day, hopefully at the beach. -E.G.D.

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Posted by Jody on June 10, 2014

Calico Scallops

Calico Scallops

It’s easy to see why these beautiful bivalves are the seashell collector’s dream. Each and every Calico Scallop (Argopecten gibbus) is a colorful, unique, and fun-filled piece of eye candy! They can be found in variations of pink, white, orange, brown, purple. Keeping only one is virtually impossible for even the most tried and true beachcomber! Commonly found on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, they range from Delaware Bay to Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico, and south to much of the Caribbean Sea.

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

These variegated seashells are especially plentiful and very easy to find undamaged on Florida’s sandy Gulf Coast beaches. The color-splashed Calico Scallops in this collection all hail from the world-renowned shelling beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida.

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Picture Perfect Calico Scallops

Growing up to 2 1/2 inches across, Calico Scallops are almost circular in shape and very easy to identify. These seashells have about 20 strong, well defined, smooth (non-scaly) ribs. Look for each shell’s “ears” to be about equal in size.

Seriously, who wouldn’t be tickled pink to have a basket full of these picture perfect beach treasures in their collection?

Happy Beachcombing!

~~~

Related links:

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

The Sanibel Shell Guide

Beachcombing Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Christmas with Sanibel Style

~~~

 

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Beach Metal Detecting: 5 Metal Detector Maintenance Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Machine

Posted by Jody on June 2, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Michael Bernzweig.

When you invest in a metal detector it’s important to care for it properly so you can get as much use out of it as possible. To help, we’ve compiled this list of metal detector maintenance tips so you can be sure you’re taking care of your machine correctly for years of trouble free treasure hunting.

Metal Detecting in Rockport, Texas

Metal Detecting in Rockport, Texas

Use a Carrying Case

Keeping your machine in a protective carrying case whenever it’s not in use ensures that it will stay safe and dry. You may also want to consider an additional cover for the search coil to further protect this very sensitive piece of your metal detector.

Clean Your Metal Detector After Each Use

Keeping your machine clean is essential. Metal detectors can become quite dirty out in the field, especially when treasure hunting at the beach or in the salt water. Using a soft rag and/or toothbrush you can be sure all the dirt, sand, and other particles are out of all the nooks and crannies of your machine where they can cause a range of different problems.

Remove the Batteries Before Storage

Before you store your machine, always take the batteries out. Removing the batteries before storing your metal detector is important so they don’t get corroded in the machine. Plus, it helps you keep them charged so they’re ready when you need them.

Metal Detecting in Santa Cruz, California

Metal Detecting in Santa Cruz, California

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Be sure to avoid extreme temperatures when storing your metal detector. This means, for example, don’t leave it in the back of your car, or in the garage. Instead, choose a closet or other environment that feels comfortable to you and doesn’t experience intense temperature fluctuations. Also, make sure wherever you store your metal detector is dry as well. For some this will mean not storing their machine in the basement, either! Damp, humid conditions can rob your machine of years of proper functioning, so find a nice dry space to store your metal detector for best results.

Test Your Metal Detector Regularly

To help your metal detector perform its best, and verify that there are no mechanical issues you need to attend to, you’ll want to test your machine regularly. Your metal detector instruction manual may have some advice on testing your specific detector. We generally just hunt known targets in order to calibrate the machine and help us ensure everything is in working order. Testing the headphones and other accessories this way is important too.

These metal detector maintenance tips are very simple, yet, if they’re not performed regularly, a variety of complex problems can result. So, instead of having to pay for repairs or even a new metal detector, be sure to give your current machine some regular TLC and it’ll be finding you treasures for years to come.

About the Author: Michael Bernzweig manages MetalDetector.com in Southborough, MA. He has written on the subject of treasure hunting and metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He enjoys traveling with his metal detector and helping to educate others in the correct use of metal detectors in their explorations.

Helpful links: What are the best metal detectors for metal detecting on the beach?

Safe, Fun, and Successful Beach Metal Detecting!

~~~

 

 

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Featured Guest Writer, Sand and Shoreline, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Angel Wings: A Heavenly Find

Posted by Jody on May 28, 2014

“Angel wing” is the perfect name for this beachcombing favorite! Easy to identify, these beautiful seashells are well-known collector’s items.

Angel wings (Cyrtopleura costata) are very fragile seashells. Somehow, quite a few of them seem to make it to the beach unchipped and in one piece, but it can be a bit of a challenge to get one of these brittle beach treasures all the way home intact!

Angel Wings, Bryan Beach, Texas (Brazoria County)

Angel wings can be found along the Atlantic Coast from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to the northern West Indies. Their range includes the Gulf of Mexico and reaches as far south as Brazil. Our family found many of these wing-shaped beauties on Brazoria County’s Gulf Coast (Texas).

These delicate, snowy white bivalves are members of the burrowing Piddock family.  Angel wings bore deep into the soft sandy mud (up to 3 feet below the surface). Filter feeders, they feast on the microalgae and tiny zooplankton in their mucky home, where they can grow up to 8 inches in length.

Angel Wings

Angel Wings

“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”  – George Eliot, English novelist

Have a heavenly day at the beach!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

The Lightning Whelk, A “South Paw”

Posted by Jody on May 8, 2014

The whelk family is a rather large and far-reaching family!  It includes over 1500 species, and whelks are found in all seas from the Arctic, through the tropics and to the Antarctic. This means that on any given day our family can hope to find this family at the seashore.

The lightning whelk is a relatively common seashell which is native to the Atlantic coast of the United States from North Carolina to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. This predatory sea snail can be found in the sand from the near low tide line to water about 10 feet deep. They feed primarily on marine bivalves (clams, scallops, etc.). 

Even though it’s a somewhat frequent event, finding an empty lightning whelk seashell is always a delight for us! We’ve been fortunate enough to find numerous perfect, uninhabited specimens of the lightning whelk along the Gulf Coast beaches from Florida to Texas. We have also left a whole passel of them behind on the sand because they were either still alive, or they had become comfy little condos for hermit crabs!

Lightning Whelk

Lightning Whelk

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says: “Lightning whelks reach a length of 2.5 to 16 inches (6 to 40 cm). Their distinguishing characteristics include their off-white to tan or gray shell with narrow, brown “lightning” streaks from the top of the shell to the bottom. The shell is white on the inside. The animal inside the shell is dark brown to black. Lightning whelks are unusual in that they have a counterclockwise shell spiral (lightning whelks are usually called “left handed”).”  The related Perverse Whelk is also a “south paw” but has a heavier and stouter seashell.

Lightning Whelks from the Gulf Coast

Lightning Whelks from the Gulf Coast

“Like snails, the lightning whelk is in the class Gastropoda which means “stomach footed”. Gastropods are univalves (have only one shell). Hermit crabs often make homes of unoccupied lightning whelk shells. A lightning whelk leaves behind a trail when crawling. It is often easy to track them. The shell grows very quickly when the whelk is young as long as food is abundant. As it gets older, the shell grows more slowly. The color of the shell depends greatly on light, temperature and age. Older whelks have pale shells.” (TPWD)

Lightning Whelk Whorl

Lightning Whelk Whorl

In 1987, the treasured lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi) was appropriately honored by being designated the official state seashell of Texas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a short, interesting article covering many details of this beautiful sea creature including its life cycle, diet, and ways this gastropod has been utilized by man through the years.

From our family to your family: Happy Beachcombing!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Beachcombing 101: Carrying What you Find

Posted by Jody on May 7, 2014

Jody:

Many thanks to you for the shout-out, Eileen!

Originally posted on Life Along the Gulf Coast:

**disclaimer: I am not paid to endorse any of the clothing or supplies in this story.  I am only sharing my thoughts on what I think are great beach combing duds.

Beachcombers come in all sizes, shapes, philosophies, and goals.  Finding the great items along the shore are, to some, an art; to others it is luck. Some people specialize in sea glass, while others only want shells or drift wood or pottery shards.  We all have the same goal of finding something, but what we do with it can vary.  A man in Pensacola, Florida catalogs and stores everything he finds in boxes in his garage.  A lady in Sarasota picks up broken shells of all sizes and makes wonderful pieces of art with them. A family in California sells their findings on the internet for people to use for their crafts.  I display some of what I find…

View original 1,093 more words

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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