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Posts Tagged ‘beaches of Sanibel Island Florida’

Ospreys, Magnificent Birds of Prey.

Posted by Greg on January 11, 2012

Osprey with fish. Photo by Terry Ross (Wikimedia Commons)

When Jody and I go to the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, Florida I’m always on the lookout for ospreys. I have long been interested in birds of prey.  According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “One of the largest birds of prey in North America, the Osprey eats almost exclusively fish. It is one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica.”

Osprey at Morro Bay, California. Photo by Mike Baird (Wikimedia Commons)

An osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is fairly easy to identify, especially when flying, because of its gull-like crooked wing shape. It has a bright white breast and belly with the white extending out on the underside of the wings, mixing to white and dark at the ends of the wings and on the tail. The back is black or dark brown. The osprey has a white head and a distinctive dark mask across its eyes. This large raptor has a body length ranging from 21 to 26 inches and a wingspread that can measure almost 6 feet.  According to  the United States Geological Survey, “One species makes up the family Pandionidae and that is the osprey. It is a specialized fish-catching hawk and has a number of anatomical distinctions indicating it has pursued its own evolutionary course. For these reasons, it has been placed in a separate family from the hawks and eagles.”

We first learned about ospreys on Sanibel Island, Florida because of the area’s local efforts to bring them back in larger numbers. We spotted osprey nest stands on power poles as well as freestanding nesting platforms.  The osprey population drastically declined in numbers in the 1970s as a result of pesticide use, and it is now protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

We’ll certainly be on the lookout for ospreys in other coastal areas. These magnificent birds of prey can also be found in forested habitats near rivers and lakes.

Happy birdwatching!

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Posted in Beach Birding | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

Posted by Jody on September 8, 2011

Sanibel Island, Florida is the ultimate US vacation destination for the serious beachcomber! Sanibel Island, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is south and west of Fort Meyers. With miles and miles of shell-strewn, sugary white sand beaches and hundreds of different types of sea shells to pick from, you won’t need anything to keep you busy but the seashore!

©Jody Diehl

Sanibel Island Beach Treasures (©Jody Diehl)

Head out to the wide sandy shore, and soon enough you’ll find out exactly what the “Sanibel Stoop” is.  If you aren’t doing the “Sanibel Stoop” in a matter of minutes, you are sure to see plenty of beachcombers who are! We are stoopers.  Other shellers will come armed with shelling baskets attached to long handles. (These scoops are used to reach down into the sandy shallows.) Some come equipped with handy-dandy surgical tweezers to pick up the mini sea shells that are often found at Lighthouse Beach. I’m convinced that all systems for shelling on the beaches of Sanibel Island are equally effective.

Sanibel Island Lighthouse at Christmastime (©Jody Diehl)

Sure, you’ll be told the best time to shell on the beaches of Sanibel Island is a couple days after a winter storm, during low tide, when the moon is full…  Those may indeed be the ideal conditions for shelling, but that never seems to matter.  We have always come home quite happy with new beach treasures from our seashell hunting any time of year, no matter the tide, no matter the  phase of the moon, and no matter which Sanibel Island beach!

We have found teeny-tiny miniature shells in heaps, and we have come across live whelks as large as Greg’s size 12 sandal moving across the sand. The most amazing thing about shelling on Sanibel Island’s beaches is the number of whole, unbroken shells you can find.  Lightning Whelks, Fighting Conchs, Olives, Augers, Turkey Wings, Moon Shells, Alphabet Cones, Scallops, Banded Tulips! The variety is amazing and the colors are so beautiful.

Be sure to have good a shell guide for identification purposes and check out the tide tables if you do want to hit low tide at the beach.  You won’t want to miss seeing the sunrise and sunset from the Gulf side of the island.  Those colors are absolutely gorgeous, too!

Have a great day beachcombing on Sanibel Island, Florida!  -J-

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Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments »

 
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