Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bitsy and Toto

It was a little cool early this morning - in the 50's but the wind was absolutely calm so Bill headed to Seahawks Park to fly his RC airplane and visit with the guys. I headed out for a walk with my camera in tow.

I was hoping for a pretty sunrise, but today the sun just appeared with no color guard to welcome it to the last day of the year.

This is Bitsy. She is a very friendly Boston Bull Terrier. Her owner reports that she is an excellent companion and friend but, Bitsy is not predictable when it comes to other dogs - sometimes she likes them, sometimes she doesn't.

Bitsy has an unmistakable bull dog face. Her owner said some of her features were like a pit bull - which was NOT what I wanted to hear.

Further along on my walk I met Toto. What a friendly little dog! She wanted to jump up and visit but her owner discouraged that behavior (to my relief!).

This is not a very good picture as Toto did not want to stand still - she wanted to get on with her walk. Toto is 3 years old and was found at a rescue shelter. Her owner believes she is a mixture of Yorkie and Shih Tzu. If I see her again I will try to get a better picture as she is especially pretty.

I saw a third dog out walking - but he was really big and I was sure I had something really important to do - on the other side of the street.

This is the view from our lanai where I sit and type. It is so peaceful here. I love looking out and watching the birds and critters.

Once Bill returns and the "kids" get up we will probably head to the beach and stay to see the final sunset of 2008.

I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Bill headed to the R/Sea Hawks Park before dawn this morning to fly his plane so I went walking around Parker Lakes just as the sun was coming up. It was cool before dawn - around 60 degrees - so I had to wear a light sweatshirt (definitely not necessary by the time I got home).

This is the fishing pier down by the clubhouse. I love the reflections!

These cute rabbits were playing in the gardens. In all of the pictures I took of them, their eyes look like they are shinning. I bet there is a name for that.

I shot this picture down by the playground. Seconds after I took it the heron caught a small fish and flew away.

Bill thinks these are the ugliest ducks he's ever seen. He says they look like a bad case of in-breeding, over-breeding and cross-breeding! The city of Naples doesn't like them much either because they have adopted some of the parks as home and leave a terrible mess on the picnic tables.

As I headed back home, I met Max and his owner out for their morning walk.

Although he looks like a small collie, Max is actually a Shetland Sheepdog or "Sheltie." According to Shelties are intelligent, loving and loyal and make great companions but may not do well with children or strangers.

I know this is true because one of my co-workers had a Sheltie that he brought in to work one day. The dog ran into my office, took one look at me and began to bark incessantly. My friend came in to see what all the commotion was about and found me standing on my desk. I was so upset I had to go home. I think Max is a MUCH nicer dog!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

R/Sea Hawks Park

Bill and I headed over the bridge to Cape Coral and the R/Sea Hawks Park just before dawn this morning so Bill could fly his plane. The early morning fog made for an interesting sunrise.

Here's Bill getting his plane ready.

And testing the controls.

Off she goes!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Magnificent Frigatebird

Today on Fort Myers Beach, I spotted this Magnificent Frigatebird soaring overhead. Luckily, I was able to get to my camera before he flew away. It is rare to see Frigatebirds this time of year - unless they have been driven ashore by a storm. They spend most of their time flying over the ocean.

Frigatebirds are one of the few birds where males and females look entirely different. The males are entirely black with a red throat pouch and the larger females are black with a large white patch across their chest, three or four thin white lines in the wingpits, and white patches on top of wings.

We stayed on the beach until sunset so I got a few more pictures. Bill took the first one with the sailboat and I took the second one.


John's girlfriend Anne arrived early yesterday morning. We were very glad to meet her and welcome her to Florida.

Sunsets here on the Gulf coast of Florida are beautiful and romantic. Colors fill the sky as the sun sinks into the ocean.

Last night we took John and Anne to meet Beth and Warren on Fort Myers beach and join the thousands of other people who arrived for this daily ritual.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

John's Arrival

Son John finally arrived yesterday morning after his flight into Atlanta was delayed causing him to miss his connection into Fort Myers Airport. He spent the night in a seedy motel near the airport where the clerk didn't understand English and the person ahead of him was a little tipsy. Apparently their conversation was quite interesting.

After he vented his frustrations and relaxed, we headed over to Fort Myers Beach so he could visit with his Aunt and Uncle.

We walked on the beach up to Bowditch Park, around the north end of the island and back. Along the way I spotted this Royal Tern.

In the park we saw another gopher turtle and John got an up-close look. The turtle didn't seem to mind the audience and just kept eating.

Naturally, I collected some shells as I walked - mostly very small, but colorful examples.

Bill decided I needed a horseshoe crab exoskeleton (or molt) in my collection and the animal that shed this one left it intact. Horseshoe crabs are among the oldest residents of planet Earth, preceding dinosaurs by millions of years. They are actually more closely related to spiders than crabs. The molts are perfect replicas of the animal that once lived in it. They exit through an opening in the front of the shell.

This is my growing collection. After I wash them and let them dry, I put them in vented and labeled containers. Some of the specimens need to spend a night in a 50% bleach bath before they can be put away.

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Pelicans

Today at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge I finally got some pictures of the illusive white pelicans. Last time we were there the battery in my camera died. These birds are huge - standing five feet tall with a seven to eight foot wingspan. Their more common cousins, the brown pelicans are the ones normally seen on the beach or diving for fish.

A brown pelican. Notice how different they look!
One more picture of the roseate spoonbill. According to my bird guide, they stand just under three feet tall. This picture shows the spoon shape of their bill but does not do justice to their bright pink color.

Besides bird watching, I've been collecting seashells - lots of seashells. I come from a shell collecting family. My parents met at the annual meeting of the American Malacological Union (now Society) in 1939. They married in December, 1941 and spent their honeymoon on Sanibel. I grew up with shells all over the house. Mother's collection is now at Harvard and Dad's is housed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. My father, Horace was president of the AMU, and editor of The Nautilus; my mother, Bernadine (Bunny) was business manager.

Beth and I remember collecting trips as children and now that we are older - it seems to all be coming back. I even remember one of the scientific names our father taught us - "Busycon" (whelk). Beth is much better at identifying shells than I am and recently posted a great guide on her blog. Her pictures are excellent so be sure to check it out.

Return to Sanibel

Bill and I returned to Sanibel and the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. We purchased one of the senior passes that is good for lifetime admission to any National Park in the U.S.. It's a great buy for only $10! Finally a perk for being old!

We spotted this family of raccoons at one of the outlooks. They walked right in front of us - first mom than her two babies. As you can see, mom waited for the kids before leading them off.

Looking over one of the bridges we saw schools of fish - mullet and what we think is either alligator gare or needle fish.

Mullet are really strange fish. They keep jumping out of the water. Scientist are not sure why but think they might either have paracites in their gills or are spooked by other fish. Maybe they just jump because they can!

This wood stork caught my eye sitting in a tree.

The roseate spoonbills are such beautiful birds!

Today we spotted this flock of herons. Most were white but there were a few great blues.

These are double-creasted comorants.

After we left Ding Darling, we went to see the historic Sanibel Lighthouse. It was decorated for Christmas with a huge wreath and big red ribbon bow.

After coming home I made chocolate chip cookies (see recipe on 11/27 blog entry) for JK. He is due to arrive tonight around midnight. Bill & I drank lots of coffee to stay awake. Unfortunately, flights are delayed out of New York City so he may end up spending the night in Atlanta and I may end up watching the late show. Is Johnny Carson still on?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


This is Cody. He is a miniature Labra-poodle - described by his owner as a designer mix of Labrador Retriever and Miniature Poodle. He was eager to please and sat-up on command - and stayed in position while I snapped his picture - knowing there was a treat waiting for him.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

Yesterday we headed over to Sanibel Island (a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico) and the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This is a "DON'T MISS" stop on any trip to Florida - even with the $6 fee to cross the causeway.

The 6,400 acre refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States and is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. There are over 220 species of birds on Sanibel!

J. N. "Ding" Darling is one of over 540 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - which means if you have a Golden Pass for National Parks - there is no entry fee.

Bill spotted this Yellow-Crowned Night Heron at our first stop.

I couldn't resist taking a picture of these beautiful morning glories!

This is another Reddish Egret.

And a Great Egret.

These are Cormorants swimming around in one of the estuaries, an area where salt water mixes with fresh water creating a habitat rich with vegetation and animal life. This is one of my favorite pictures.

BUT - the most exquisite sighting for me were the Roseate Spoonbills. They are beautiful pink birds with spoon-shaped bills. I took so many pictures, the battery on my camera went dead - which means I didn't get any pictures of the white pelicans.

Thank you Beth and Warren for taking us! I will definitely go back!