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Posts Tagged ‘beachcombing’

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.

~~~

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Posted in Beach Birding, Featured Guest Writer, Pacific Coast Beaches, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Looking for Ripley … or Possibly Luke

Posted by Jody on July 12, 2014

Jody:

I simply love Maggie’s take on shoreline scenes!

Originally posted on Tide Line Still Life:

20140708-080532-29132999.jpg

One in an occasional installment of humorous photos. Can you see what I see?

View original

Posted in Sand and Shoreline, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 1 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 Maunder Taylor Family’s Excellent Adventure

Posted by Jody on May 17, 2014

The Coastal Path is one of my very favorite blogs. It chronicles the explorations and light-hearted shenanigans of the Maunder Taylor family as they travel on foot along the coast of Britain. I like it partly because Greg and I hope to hike Britain’s seaside trails in the not-too-distant future. But mostly I enjoy reading The Coastal Path because it’s just plain fun to tag along with this close-knit wayfaring clan on their frequent coastal jaunts. 

Recently, I asked Nic (Dad and blogger) for his tips on undertaking a walk around the coast of Britain. I was thrilled when not only he, but each one of his family members, chimed in with their own witty words of advice!

 Today’s Featured Guest Writers are Nic, Deb, Ben, and Catherine Maunder Taylor!

The  Maunder Taylor at Boscombe

The Maunder Taylor Family at Boscombe

Nic told me that he first had the idea of walking the coast of Britain 20 years ago but didn’t act on it. He went on to make a career, eventually joined the family business, and settled down into a life of working during the week. He then spent his weekends “half waiting for the week to start again.” 

      After about 10 years of this I turned 40 and had what I call a “healthy mid-life wobble”. It wasn’t a crisis by any means – just an appropriately timed self-correction.  For some reason (I have no idea why) I declared I wanted to go to Southend Pier on my birthday. We went on some rides (I went upside down on a roller coaster for the first time since I was 15) and took a walk up the pier.  We went on a tall ship that happened to be moored at there and had coffee. I remembered the dream I’d had when I was younger.

     For a couple of months I thought quietly about things and then suggested it to my wife. She thought I was quite bonkers and preferred the “one step at a time” approach, agreeing to do a walk if I could convince the kids. Convince the kids?!?!?  That was EASY!

     “Hey you two!” I shouted, “If you come for a walk with us we’ll do ice cream and roller coasters at Southend!”

     “Yay!” they shouted!

     Oh, my poor children! Little did they realise what they were saying yes to!

Beachcombing on the British Coast

Beachcombing on the British Coast

How do you get a family of four to walk around the coast of Britain?  This is one of the toughest exercises known to humankind.  It is no mistake that DHL offers no such service within their menu of logistical offerings.

What follows are the informed views of four people who, most weekends, do exactly this:

Nic (Aged 42) –  Equipment stockman, driver and mule, carrying anything and everything put into his backpack by anyone and everyone else.

Deb (Aged 42) – The person most likely to put anything and everything into Nic’s backpack.  The person most likely to insist we return home 10 minutes after setting out because she left something out.

Ben (Aged 11) – The person most likely to complain that out of everything put in his father’s backpack, including the thing that they just turned round and went home for, none of them have screens and none of them connect to the internet.

Catherine (Aged 11) – The person most likely to think that if everything was taken back out of the backpack, there might be enough room for her.

Nic - Map Reading at Botany Bay

Nic – Map Reading at Botany Bay

Nic’s Advice for Fellow Fathers (in no particular order):

1. Just do it. There is never a right time to start. Don’t think. Do. Get on with it or you will never start.

2. Ignore the remonstrations of your children. Once they actually get to the coast they have fun. Persuading them to go down there in the first place, however, is a weekly task. When they ask how far you are going to walk each weekend, think of a number and double it. Stick to the answer without any hint of humour.

3. Walkie-talkies – these were an idea of a friend of mine and they are worth their weight in gold. They give the kids a new lease of life after 10 miles or so. You occasionally pick up other random conversations between persons unknown and get to interject with complete anonymity. The kids absolutely love that. Especially when it’s the police.

4. Have a checklist of things you need to take with you. I never make a checklist and every week I regret it.

5. Buy a big backpack. Your wife will fill it. From skiing jackets in mid-summer to swimming trunks in the deep winter, it can all end up in there. It is best to just accept what is put in and get on with it.

6. Remember to take last week’s packed lunch remains out of your backpack when you get home at the end of the walk. Especially if they include banana skins.

Deb at Hythe Beach

Deb at Hythe Beach

 Deb’s Advice for Mindful Mothers

1. Put the cat out! We have to go back because I have left something in, not out!

2. Leave dry socks back at the car. Kids. Sea. Regardless of weather. Enough said.

3. Food. The night before. The morning of the walk. The mid morning of the walk. The lunchtime of the walk. The mid-afternoon snack of the walk. You get the idea. But no bananas – see husband’s rule no. 6 above.

4. We plan our route, view it on Google Earth, and if it looks being anything other than ‘get to the beach, turn right and keep walking’, we look at other bloggers who have done the walk and see what they did. And we still get lost. Just like they did.

5. Never pass a loo. You never know when you will see one again.

6. Ditto ice cream vans.

Catherine at Sandwich Bay

Catherine at Sandwich Bay

Catherine’s Advice for Dutiful Daughters

1. My first tip would be always help your mum make your sandwiches or she might leave something out (hopefully by accident – salad).

2. Always put your own clothes out because my mum has always put winter clothes out when it’s sunny.  I’m normally too hot or too cold which is not nice when you have to walk 15 miles then wait for a taxi.

3. I sometimes do a check list the night before because you can’t leave all your stuff with your parents to sort out and there is always something we need to go back for.

4. Bring a camera for your own pictures because there might be something you want to take a picture of but your dad doesn’t.

5. I prefer sports socks than walking socks because the walking socks are just too itchy to wear for a whole day.

Ben "doing what he does best!"

Ben “doing what he does best!”

Ben’s Advice for Surly Sons

1. Get woken up by mum when I’m really tired.

2. Drink and eat anything I get cuz I get really hungry.

3. Try not to throw up in the car (listening to Capital FM works well for me).

4. If I can’t listen to Capital then I bring my MP3 player.

5. Stuff myself at breakfast cuz I get hungry.

Hope Gap (Seven Sisters cliffs in the background)

The Maunder Taylor Family at Hope Gap (Seven Sisters cliffs in the background)

~~ There you have it! Big backpack; big breakfast; go! Good luck – only 7,000 miles to cover! ~~

My sincerest thanks to Nic, Deb, Ben, and Catherine for sharing their time, tips, photos, and fun with us! You too can join them on their excellent adventure at The Coastal Path: One family’s walk around the coast of Britain. ~Jody

Happy wayfaring!

Posted in Beaches of Great Britain and Ireland, Featured Guest Writer, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 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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