Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walk #4

Arrived at the Buttonwood access on the east end of the island, around 6:15 AM. The sky in the east was already getting pink. It was warm this morning, around 78. With a SW wind, it didn't seem that warm.

I saw the first turtle nest in our zone, as soon as I walked out on the beach. We checked to make sure it hadn't been disturbed. It was found Thursday, May 21, in front of The Colony Beach Estates. There have now been a total of 5 false crawls in our zone, as well.

It was obvious that there was a lot of traffic on this part of the beach over the holiday weekend. Plenty of kiddie items were left behind, scattered here and there, most all were broken and just left where they fell. A beach ball was hiding in the dunes. There were also a few cans, bottles, plastic bags, tissues and other items. There was one nice lady walking on the beach, carrying a large plastic bag, she was putting trash in. Thank you lady!! The critters and I thank you!

This was strange.

After a closer look, it was still strange! The square hole was about around 4 feet deep and 10 feet on each side. On the right and left sides, there are small palm trees that had been cut off, laying on the sand. They still had the green palm fronds at the top, so they hadn't been cut because they were dying. Talk about a turtle trap! So, will this be there until Florida freezes over, or what? Also had to dump this one in the Permittee's hands.

I got to see what I'm pretty sure was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

I found another Orange ?? shell ?? :-)

Now, I have seen a Common Egg Cockle shell, a Morton's Egg Cockle shell, but this is obviously half of an Easter Egg Cockle shell. :-)

I think this is a sea turtle who has just completed a 'false crawl'.

These sand sculptures in front of Sanibel Arms West, were very cute. Someone had spent a lot of time and effort making them. But, it's a shame they didn't take into consideration the fact it's sea turtle nesting season. They are right in front of the dune area, which is where turtles usually nest. They should have been taken down, but I didn't have the heart to do it. We did tell our Permittee, so they can do what they think should be done. We did fill quite a few holes on the beach today. I believe that someone from SCCF has been driving the beach lately, checking for holes and filling them. A friend of mine saw them a couple of times on the beach in the West Gulf Drive area.

The sun finally rising from behind the clouds.

The Gulf was pretty calm and wasn't bringing in many shells at all.

This pelican flew right over my head and surprised me by diving into very shallow water. It did get it's catch for breakfast. Just as a seagull landed right by it's head, I saw him swallow it down. The seagull had to go find his own breakfast.

I love the sunrises!

The mermaid looks as though she had a rough weekend.

About half way back, we spotted the Snowy Plovers again and thought they were the same two young ones that we saw last week hiding under their mother's wings. She was still with them or their father was, but they have really grown. They were also wandering farther away now, but the parent was still keeping a close watch.

We weren't sure if this was the Mother or Father Plover, but it looked like it was missing a foot. It had a limp as it walked, but still was able to get where it wanted to go. There was a band on its other leg. You can tell in this video, how fast they run across the sand. It is hard to spot them because their color is nearly the same as the sand. If you take your eyes off them, you can't quickly find them back again. They are very cute and fun to watch.

After spotting the little chicks running around last week, we sent an email and link to that video to Cara Faillace, who is the Snowy Plover Technician with SCCF Snowy Plover Project. She replied, saying that it look like the brood from nest 003 and thanked us for sharing the video. Today we sent another link to this video. She promptly responded with this interesting information: Those chicks are in our records as officially fledged. the adult in the video is the male from that nest- he is indeed missing a foot and has been since 2006. I believe he was banded as a chick in 2005. In 2007 he successfully fledged 2 chicks, in 2008 he fledged 1 chick and this year he has another 2. He's also a favorite with staff and plover volunteers. The female from this nest is banded as white over green on the right leg and silver over green on the left.

I did see one turtle on the beach, it was crawling toward the dunes. But, it wasn't a sea turtle. It was a Florida Box turtle, who was kind enough to let me get a picture before he hid in the vegetation.

There was also a skate egg case, sometimes called a mermaid's purse, left at a high tide line. You may remember that I have posted photos of these before. A skate is related to the Stingray.

At the end of the walk, this is what we had collected. Next stop.....dumpster in Lighthouse Beach parking area.

These are the small shells I picked up today.

1 comment:

Melli said...

What a GREAT post! This was sO informative and interesting and fun! And those are some beautiful silhouettes up top.

I really DO wonder what that big hole was all about? And the sand castles are wonderful... I wouldn't have had the heart to destroy them either! I'm so glad you got a picture of them before the Permitee does!

Now I have to go google and find out the difference between your plovers and a sand piper.