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Archive for the ‘Beach and Coastal Wildlife’ Category

Fall colors at their finest!

Posted by Jody on October 20, 2017

Our white sand beaches and coastal areas are teeming with these beautiful butterflies these days! ~ Just in time for their brilliant autumn-like colors to mix and match with other seasonal Southern favorites like Halloween decorations, pumpkin patches, and sweet potato pies! 

According to the University of Florida Entomology & Nematology Department:

“The Gulf fritillary occurs throughout the southern United States southward through Mexico, Central America and the West Indies to South America. In Florida, it can be found in all 67 counties. The butterfly undergoes distinct seasonal movements each year. Adults move northward in spring and form temporarily breeding colonies throughout the southeast. Individual vagrants may occasionally reach into the central U.S., but rarely into the Midwest. Starting in late summer and continuing through fall, huge numbers of adults migrate southward into peninsular Florida. Adults overwinter in frost-free portions of their range.”

Fall colors at their finest!

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Have a great day, hopefully at the beach!

 

Butterflies and Moths of North America

Butterfly Plants and Mississippi Butterflies

Butterflies at Home

 

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!

Posted by Jody on May 14, 2017

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I’ve never considered myself a “birder” before. Don’t get me wrong – I certainly know a Road Runner from a Robin. And I can identify a male Cardinal by it’s brilliant red color and conspicuous crest. In the past, I’ve been known to enjoy watching the Harris’s Hawks nesting in our front yard tree in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and get downright excited spying an Osprey triumphantly returning to it’s nest with a freshly caught dinner in Nokomis, Florida. But, how many eggs were likely to be found in the Harris’s Hawks’ nest, and how long did the Ospreys’ eggs take to hatch?  I hadn’t a clue.

The thing is, since moving to our little beach house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I’m starting to understand a little more about how someone gets hooked on bird watching. I’m not talking just a little hooked – I’m talking really hooked!

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Not too long ago, on a morning walk along our beach, we ran across a few scattered orange marker flags indicating nests of what we assumed were Least Terns. The little coastal critters are pretty well known in these parts. We’ve spotted the permanently marked nesting areas on the beach near Biloxi, and we have noticed the sign on Highway 90 designating a section of the roadway “Judith Toups Least Tern Highway.” In fact, we encountered a very active Least Tern nesting colony complete with helpful Audubon Society volunteers in Sarasota County (FL) last summer. So it was pretty clear what was happening on our beach! We had an actual Least Tern nesting colony forming right there, not more than a couple blocks from our beachy hideaway.

To date this particular colony has had its ups and downs. According to the American Bird Conservancy website: “The Least Tern has two big problems. It prefers sandy beaches for nesting—the same kinds of places that people love to visit. And, because it nests on the ground, it’s vulnerable to attacks by cats, dogs, and other predators, which can destroy a significant portion of a colony’s eggs and chicks.” We have had a couple big rain storms resulting in nests being covered by windswept sand. Yet we remain hopeful that the little colony on our beach survives and flourishes in the weeks and months to come.

The area is now roped off and signage has been placed. Hubby and I are planning on joining the Audubon Mississippi Coastal Bird Stewardship effort by becoming active volunteers.  I may be a real live birder when next we meet. I’ll keep you posted!

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Please Tern Around

In the meantime, you can learn more about the Least Terns on the Mississippi Gulf Coast here.

 

 

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Birding, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Return of a Treasure Hunter!

Posted by E.G.D. on March 11, 2017

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Ken Muise, who last wrote us a post in 2015!  Congratulations on the beach-move, Ken, from all of the Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches treasure hunters (all of whom have moved to the beach since starting this website ^_^.  We totally get it!).

Finally…I Moved to that Beach! (Well, Near it…)

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Ken Muise, Our Featured Guest Writer

Hello to all the beach lovers once again!

Nearly 2 years ago I wrote a guest post here on BT&TB about how much I loved looking for sea shells on Makaha Beach on the west coast of Oahu.  Well, here it is:  I’m retiring from the military at the end of March and I am actually moving about 400 yards away from that beach!  It’s a condo/beach community called Makaha Surfside.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not rich.  I just happened to luck into a 500 sq ft condo that is everything that I ever wanted.  It’s a great deal.

So, in the last two years, what have I been doing on Oahu?

Going to the Beach- 

LOL.  Seriously, I think there are only a few beaches on the island that I haven’t been to.  If you’ve been to Oahu then you know that it’s kind of a feat!  Makaha is still one of my faves.

Visting the Beaches on the other Hawaiian Islands- 

I’ve been to beaches on Maui, Big Island, and Kauai at this point.  I’m here to tell you…it’s paradise!  One of my favorite spots in the state is the beach that is part of the Marriott Kauai Resort.  Man, it’s beautiful!

Still Snorkeling-

I have a couple different snorkel gear review sites online now and things are going really well.  One of my favorite moments of my life was when my girlfriend and I got into the water at Honaunau on the Big Island and within 90 seconds we were swimming, watching and filming an entire pod of dolphins.  It was awesome!  Especially since so many visitors pay an arm and a leg to “swim with dolphins” while there on vacation.  Check out my video…EPIC!

I really wanted to come back and say “thanks” to everyone at BT&TB for letting me guest post waaaay back in July of 2015.  Something the military taught was to never fail to show gratitude where it’s meant.  So, if you’re ever on Oahu…please hit me up and you’ll always have a couch to crash on…100 feet from the beach.

About the Author:  Ken Muise is an active-duty (almost retired) soldier stationed on Oahu.  He owns and runs a snorkel gear review site as well as a move to Hawaii blog.  When Ken isn’t working he is usually snorkeling or upset when he can’t go snorkeling.  Much to the chagrin of those around him, Ken calls himself a “world class snorkeler” and believes he does it better than most.

Posted in Beaches of The Hawaiian Islands, Featured Guest Writer, Snorkeling, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Drum Roll, Please!

Posted by Jody on May 24, 2016

Casperson Beach, Venice, Florida

Caspersen Beach, Venice, Florida. Yes, collecting shark teeth is allowed.

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The best of our finds (so far)!

Have a great day at the beach!

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We’re off to Sanibel Island!

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sand and Shoreline, Sharks, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

How-tos.

Posted by Jody on May 23, 2016

There is a camaraderie among beach treasure hunters in Venice, Florida, that charms folks into returning over and over again.  Locals and repeat visitors are quick to lend a hand along with plenty of advice. Perfect strangers will plop a load or two of scooped up seashells onto the sand in front of you to get you started. I’ve seen more than one longtime treasure hunter simply pick up a shark tooth on the sand and gift it to someone they’ve never met before. Everyone has a system of finding the treasured shark teeth on the shores of Venice. Some of us have a whole beach bag full of how-tos.

Here are a few tips, tricks, and how-tos we’ve learned along the way. They’re all tried and true!

1.The Dig and Sift

The Dig and Sift is accomplished by simply reaching into the water to get the biggest portion of settled shells possible, then sifting through the seashells and fragments in hopes of spotting the perfect shark tooth specimen. You can buy a fancy pants scooper (sold at the local Walmarts for just under $18.00) which is simply a little wire basket on a pole. Folks ’round here have been known to attach a kitchen sieve to a $1.00 thrift store golf club to achieve the same results. Clever! Right? The cheapest bet: scoop with your own two hands, although you should plan on chipping the polish off of any prettily manicured nails. (Come to think of it, this may indeed be the most expensive option of the three!)

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The Dig and Sift

2. The Sweep and Trap

The Sweep and Trap system doesn’t require braving the surf. You just need to find a section of the beach where the surf is washing over a patch of smallish seashell fragments. Crouch on the sand and start to run your hand back and forth across the small bits and pieces while the surf comes and goes. Now, with this system, you’ll likely see a treasure or two get away before you can actually grab what really did look like a shark tooth. Hence the “trap” part. Quick reflexes are necessary to trap any dark, suspicious form before the waves wash your suspected precious beach treasure back into the sea.

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The Sweep and Trap

3. The Scoop and Toss

Can’t find a place where the waves are washing across a section of seashell fragments? Have a friend simply scoop a colander, bucket, or basket of seashells and sand from the water and plop the load along the surf line for you. Follow the “trap” part of technique #2 from here.

4. The Dig Like Heck at the Shell Banks Left Behind After High Tide

🙂 Self explanatory:

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The Dig Like Heck at the Shell Banks Left Behind After High Tide

5. The Walk and Scan

Enjoy a lovely walk on the beach and just look down. I can’t tell you how successful this system has been for many a beach treasure hunter on the beautiful beaches of Venice. Yes, this how-to is too obvious, but we just had to mention it!

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The Walk and Scan

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The Ultimate Venice Beach Treasure!

Good luck & have a wonderful day at the beach!!

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Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sand and Shoreline, Seashells, Sharks, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Morning at Caspersen Beach

Posted by Jody on May 22, 2016

Here’s a look at our awesome Saturday morning on Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida. What a fabulous day it was for beach treasure hunting!

Hunting for shark teeth is a lot like “Where’s Waldo?” Scroll through the photos and see if you can find a shark tooth or two with us. >>>

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Everyone is out to find those treasured shark teeth on Caspersen Beach

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Dressed for success!

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Anything in there?

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Caspersen Beach, Florida

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Wonderful shelling too!

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We were told by a local fisherman that this character is a Yellow-Footed Bait Stealer.

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Wooohooo! My Beach Treasures!

It’s great to have a waterproof camera. Isn’t it? We have a couple of Fuji FinePix XP70 neon colored wonders just for these occasions!

Have a wonderful day at the beach!

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Sand and Shoreline, Seashells, Sharks | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cabrillo Beach, California: a Monday Evening Walk

Posted by E.G.D. on February 21, 2015

Aloha, Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches world!  I know a good many of you have been asking “Hey, why haven’t Jody and Greg been posting as often?”  It is time for the big reveal: they were super-busy getting their business affairs in order so that they could go on the cruise of a lifetime!  Of course, now that they’re actually on said cruise, we all get to enjoy the fruits of their labor through their quite delightful photographs. Behold!  Cabrillo Beach:

Have a great day, preferably at the beach- E.G.D.

Posted in Beach Birding, Beaches of North America, Pacific Coast Beaches, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Walking With the Winter Waves at Sylvan Beach

Posted by E.G.D. on December 31, 2014

All the cool birds hang out here.  (photo by E.G.D.)

All the cool birds hang out here. (photo by E.G.D.)

Sylvan Beach in La Porte, TX, always a treat in the warmer months, can be equally awesome in the winter.  The waves crash with a little more violence and froth, the seashells are as abundant as ever, the clean public restrooms are still open, and the birds are a heck of a lot bolder than they are when there are more people around.  The other day, the kids and I literally had a pelican fly right up to us.  I warned the kids “don’t touch it!  It’s a wild animal,” and it was so close that it was actually necessary to say that.  Liam held up his fingers in a square and said “CLICK!” but by the time I went back to the car for a camera, the blue guy who’d nearly landed on our feet was gone.  We saw a yellow one by the bait shop later, though, and I did get a picture of him.  Anyhow, the entire purpose of this article is actually to give the kids a bit of the limelight.  I invited Liam (currently a second grader) to write an article on his winter beach experience, and this is what he wrote:

We had a great time at the beach.  We collected shells and saw two pelicans.  It was cold and windy.  We also saw baby seagulls.  The ocean was trying to catch me, but it couldn’t.  My feet stayed dry.  The end.

Tada! The second pelican (photo by E.G.D.)

Tada! The second pelican (photo by E.G.D.)

Oona can only write her name without a reference, so she is going to dictate a story:

We collected shells.  We picked purple shells, and shells that are cool, and big shells, and clear shells, and it was a windy day.  I found, what is it called again? A sea bean.  I saw pelicans.  And we had a wonderful time.  And we went to the beach to also play in the sand.  At the water, the sand was cold and wet.  We had a nice time there, and I want to go again with Nana.  I hope we can go with Dadu, also.  We are going to do is making crafts out of the shells, like necklaces, and like paper and shells art, and coloring the shells on the paper with the shells.  We hope we have a nice time there again next time we go to the beach with Aunt Elisa.  I love the beach because it has the shells that I want to see.  The end.

Oona's shell collection from our winter day at Sylvan Beach (photo by E.G.D.)

Oona’s shell collection from our winter day at Sylvan Beach (photo by E.G.D.)

OH, THE GRAMMAR!  Oh, to be five again and not to specially care about grammar!  As you probably already surmised, I edited both for spelling, but not for grammar or syntax.  They are totally authentic.  In any case, Happy New Year, everybody!

Gray, but great (photo by E.G.D.)

Gray, but great (photo by E.G.D.)

See you at the beach- E.G.D.

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Birding, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

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 »

By the Wind Sailor

Posted by Jody on August 23, 2014

Greg and I recently returned from another fantastic visit to the Bay Area (and points north).

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach

While strolling Stinson Beach one perfect July afternoon, we happened upon a large number jelly-like oval-shaped creatures washed up on the sand. 😦 They were the most striking deep blue in color. I recognized them right away, even though I had never seen one of these strange little life forms in person before.

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

By the Wind Sailors on Stinson Beach

Their distinctive “sail” was the give-away!

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

By the Wind Sailor

Nobody (except the scavenging gulls) seemed to pay them any mind at all. Harmless to humans, these amazing marine organisms are called “by the wind sailors” (Velella velella ). They live on the surface of the ocean and can be found on both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast of the United States. By the wind sailors are commonly seen scattered about the sands of Stinson Beach during the late spring and early summer, and along the west coast as far north as Washington State, when especially strong winds can cast counteless numbers of these ill-fated critters ashore.

Look closely for the By the Wind Sailors.

Look closely for the By the Wind Sailors.

Harmless to humans: blue stinging tentacles around the rim.

Harmless to humans: blue stinging tentacles around the rim.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s SIMoN website:

Velella velella is incredibly stabile and seaworthy by design. The sail is triangular, slightly thicker at its base, stiffened by superficial thickened ridges, and yet still quite flexible. This incredible design allows smooth bending when its sail is under load, recoiling when the wind lets up, and overall minimizes the risk of kinking. The whole animal tilts when under sail, hull broadside to the flow of oncoming water.

Velella velella drifts before the wind, almost always tacking about 45 degrees to the right of the prevailing northwesterlies. This is normally enough to keep them offshore, however southerly or extremely strong onshore winds can cause them to spin around and follow the wind at a much closer angle that brings them toward land. Once washed ashore, the animals die and disintegrate within a few days.

And here’s a little something extra for your next beach/trivia party! According to Oregon State University: The sail is set diagonally to the long axis of the animal. On our side of the north Pacific Ocean, their sails are set in a northwest to southeast direction. On the other side of the north Pacific, the sails are set in a northeast to southwest direction. In the southern hemisphere, sails are reversed.”

Apparently, 2014 has been a bang-up year for the beaching of these remarkable, translucent, ocean-going creatures. Stories of mass sightings abound.

Here are a couple more helpful links in case you’d like to learn more about the (often hyphenated) by-the-wind sailor.

Bay Nature.org

National Geographic.com

Serenity, Sand and (yes) Sharks of Stinson Beach (Stinson Beach)

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Northern California Beaches, Sand and Shoreline | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

 
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