Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays


Thanks to Charlie Corbeil for letting me use his beautiful card to wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cabbages and Kings

Blog the Beach friend David blogs professionally for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. His recent post about the Festival included a photo of an Al Rao mural. Al turned my guest bedroom into a Florida Swamp about ten years ago, and his son Frank recently turned my living room floor into a Wetlands. The Festival is a major event in our area, attracting first-class speakers and lots of visitors. It's held at the end of January, a peak time for birdwatching. (This photo is of a portion of one of the walls in my Swamp. After ten years, I still love this room, and everybody that walks into it starts to smile - it's that kind of room.)

We had some wicked cold weather last week. Fortunately, it did not last long, but Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission folks report that over 250 sea turtles were rescued, most from our own Cape Canaveral area. They were parsed out to various rehab facilities (those facilities certainly got a lot of experience last year!), and most are expected to survive. Keith Winsten, Director of our wonderful Brevard Zoo, writes an excellent bi-weekly column for Florida Today, and his most recent one spoke to how critters adapt to cold weather. There's a link to the article in Referenced Links below.


Charlie and Charlotte Corbeil had yet another story in the Florida Wildlife magazine - Mating Displays of the Great Blue Heron, with lots of beautiful Charlie Corbeil photos. I received their e-Christmas card the other day, and Charlie has given me permission to use it. I'll post it this coming week - you'll love it. The 2011 Indian River Lagoon calendar includes one of his black-necked stilt photos and a great land crab pic. (This is one of Charlie's great blue heron pix from his silhouette series. I love his pictures, and I particularly appreciate his willingness to let me share them with you.)


Friend Wayne (Space Coast Wildflowers) came over last weekend to dry-run his beautiful Wildflowers of Wickham Park presentation that he'll be giving at the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) Conradina Chapter meeting on Monday, January 10 at the Melbourne Library on Fee Avenue, 6:00 to 8:00. It's terrific. Very organized and informative (as you might expect from a former system engineer with a really nice mind), and chock full of gorgeous pictures of the wildflowers he has found and identified during his trips to Wickham Park. If you live in Brevard County, make plans to attend.


Artist friend Vickie Henderson continues to lead the fight against hunting sandhill cranes in Tennessee. What a really dreadful idea! Follow the link in Reference Links below to her gorgeous site - her artwork is just amazing. Be sure to look at her art cards and prints. (This photo is of some "tourists" visiting our defunct golf course today. At least I am assuming these are northern sandhills.)



A few weeks ago, my dog and I found a little three-striped mud turtle wandering around our aforementioned defunct golf course. Since it was mowing day, I brought him inside, made a mud turtle habitat on the screened in porch, gave him some canned dog food, and kept him through the cold spell. I'm not fond of the water on the golf course that he came out of, so on a warm day last weekend, I took him to a nice calm water location and released him. The three-striped mud turtle is not a flashy critter, and they are a little shy, but he was a very pleasant fellow, attractive in his own way. I hope he got burrowed into the mud before the cold spell arrived.

I've gone on waaay too long - hope your week before Christmas is non-stressful :)


Reference Links
Keith Winsten: Animals adept at dealing with cold weather
Blog the Beach: Tenth Annual Birding and Wildlife Festival
Charlie Corbeil Photography
Space Coast Wildflowers

FNPS Conradina Chapter
Vickie Henderson Art

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Purses with a Purpose

Serene Harbor is a local domestic violence center that provides shelter and assistance for abused women. Frequently, these ladies show up with few possessions. A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Women's Business Center describing the Purses with a Purpose initiative wherein one fills a gently used purse with things these ladies might need - new personal grooming items, underwear, socks, etc. I have one old purse - the one I carry! But I knew Melea, my daughter-in-law has a lot of purses, so I forwarded the email to her, hoping for a purse I could fill. Well, Melea and her friend Marissa filled two beautiful purses to the brim, even including Christmas cards. Charlie brought them over this week, and I just finished delivering them to Lori Halbert, the mastermind and coordinator of this effort, now in its fifth year. I think this is a terrific idea, not just for the Christmas season - elements of reuse, practicality, and financial feasiblity. Good job!

Reference Links:
Serene Harbor
Women's Business Center

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Manatee mania!

A few weeks ago, co-workers from Ohio were in town for a meeting and wanted to view manatees. I was unable to find any for them then, so I'm delighted to have these photos to share with them. (Manatees are large aquatic mammals frequently referred to as sea cows. The link below in Reference Links will tell you all about them.)

We've had some record cold mornings this past week (30s and low 40s), and the manatees are coming into the canals from the river because the canal water is warmer. Wayne got these pix at a canal near his home in Satellite Beach.

I'm most appreciative of Wayne's photos - every very time I try to take a manatee photo, by the time I get my act together, the critter has ducked back under the water, and I have yet one more picture of water!


This photo reminds me of a bunch of kids in a swimming pool having a party!

(Photos by Wayne Matchett)

Reference Links:
Manatee Facts

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's a small world

Thanksgiving day morning, I received an email from the Copyright Editor of the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) requesting that I forward an attached copyright permission request to Margie Mitchell, whom faithful readers will recognize as the Beach Coordinator for the City of Cocoa Beach.
The SACE folks wanted permission to use Margie's picture of a purple sea snail published in this blog March 25, 2009. SACE had used the photo in their 2010 Year 12 examination paper for Specialist Mathmatics as the basis of this question - "As the purple sea snail (Janthina janthina) grows, the lateral dimensions of its shell can be modelled by the differential system" .... (followed by a bunch of stuff involving x's and y's that I will not even pretend to understand). The picture in the exam was provided with full credit to Margie and this blog. Now the exam will apparently be made available to the public, so copyright permission was being requested.
I loved the fact that the SACE went to such meticulous detail to do the right thing - certainly the likelihood of discovery had they simply used the photo with no attribution and no permission is slim. But their four-page permission form included illustration of how the photo was used in the exam and a replication of the applicable portion of the blog post and our Copyright Notice.
Margie, of course, immediately provided SACE with permission (by email rather than snail mail - tee hee). And we both marveled at the chances of somebody in Australia finding Margie's photo of a little purple critter posted 18 months ago and using it as the basis of a math question!
As Disney would say, it's a small, small world!
(Photo by Margie Mitchell)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Remembering John F. Kennedy, Jr.



Today marks the 47th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr., our 35th President.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Talented Friends

Faithful readers will recall my speaking of friend Vickie Henderson, she of the fabulous art who came to visit last January for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival and again in July to learn about sea turtles. When she came in June, she brought me some beautiful cards based on her field journal artwork, and now she sells them on her web site (see Reference Links below). Vickie lives in Tennessee, and a recent post on her Sketchbook blog tells about an article in the Tennessee Conservationist featuring her art and photographs. Beautiful stuff! You'll want to take the time to wander through this blog - some amazingly beautiful photos and sketches.

And speaking of the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival (January 26 - 31, 2011), friend David McCree is once again blogging professionally about it. His current post (see Reference Links below) is about a nature bloggers' luncheon at the Festival! What a cool idea. When you think about it, blogging has not been mainstream for very long - there were precursors in 1997-98, then the politicians picked up on it in the early 2000's, and it started becoming more popular with "the masses" in the 2004 timeframe. My first blog post was in May 2008, and I remember having to explain the term "blog" and the concept to folks. So the nature bloggers' lunch at the Festival should be interesting indeed.
I'm so glad my friends are doing wonderful things - I'm on the work/laundry/grocery shopping/work/pay bills/clean the bird cages cycle and have done nothing particularly noteworthy recently (except pick four ripe tomatoes today).

Reference Links:
Vickie's Sketchbook (The TN Conservationist Magazine article is in her November 13 post)
Vickie Henderson Art target="_blank" (Vickie's other blog - her art prints and cards are available on this one)
Blog the Beach (David's post about the networking luncheon at the Wildlife Festival)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tomatoes

Yesterday, I ate the first tomatoes from my Fall planting. Yummy! The unusually cold nights we've had over the past few weeks really sweetened them up.






A mere 10 weeks ago, Kari Ruder (Naturewise and The Green Marketplace in Cocoa) brought me four heirloom cherry tomato plants in little cups, along with some really smelly fertilizer. I put two plants in each of the two grow boxes I keep in my courtyard, and voila - thanks to Mother Nature and Kari's strong stock (and that fertilizer), I have eight foot tall plants with scads of tomatoes.

I love the grow box approach - once you get it set up, it's just a matter of keeping the reservoir full of water. The screen behind the plants is to cut down the reflection from the building - one year, my plants got fried.
Just look at these little beauties!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010

I'm looking forward to hosting my Fifth Annual Veteran's Day lunch tomorrow. Attendees will be co-worker veteran friends, and it's always a privilege to honor their former military service. We hold this luncheon at Loreen's Cafe, which is decorated year-around with flags, red, white, and blue, and anything and everything patriotic! (Eagle photo by Jim Angy, illustration by Matt MacQueen)

Tomorrow, we'll honor the warfighter, past and present. To all, thank you for your service.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Discovery Delayed

The Halloween card lingered on here while I prepared to post news of the final launch of the Shuttle Discovery, STS 133. The launch was originally scheduled for last Monday, but a series of technical glitches delayed it on a day-by-day basis. Finally, the window of opportunity closed, and the launch is now scheduled for November 30 at the earliest. Meanwhile, e-friend Becka, she of the fabric art genius, has created a beautiful shuttle-related counted thread embroidery piece that you space buffs will covet. Be sure to read her description of what prompted her design (see Reference Links below). Given that I can't hem a dishtowel, I'm in total awe of her talents!

Other e-friends, Cactus Jack Splash, Mushboy, and DOR, have submitted their photos to NASA's Fly Your Face in Space program. so they are eagerly awaiting the launch (see Reference Links below). After the launch, they can retrieve a Flight Certificate - a commemorative certificate signed by the Mission Commander.

Reference Links:
Becka's Project Journal (shuttle counted thread embroidery piece)
The Journeys of Cactus Jack Splash (their photos in space)
NASA (STS-133 Mission)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boo!


Thanks to Charlie Corbeil for this Halloween greeting - perfect as always!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A visit from my granddog

Charlie and Melea came to visit last weekend and brought Cardosa, the puppy they are raising for Canine Companions for Independence® (CCI). What a delightful dog! He patiently waited out the hysterics of Sugar, my Italian Greyhound, and within five minutes, they were friends. Even Miss Kitty was not dreadfully offended. He met several of the neighbors during a walk, and they were likewise charmed with his poise and demeanor - this is a real sweetie pie!

CCI provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities. Cardosa will remain with Charlie and Melea until he is 18 months old, going to obedience class, getting socialized, etc. Then he'll go to CCI "college" with his perment master.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

15th Annual Sea-Bean Symposium

Mark your calendars for October 22 and 23 - the 15th annual sea-bean symposium. For those of you new to this blog, you may well ask, what is a sea-bean? As we explain in our Florida Beach Basics DVD, sea-beans are nuts and seeds from trees and vines that grow along water that flows into the ocean. These nuts and seeds fall into the water and reach the ocean currents, where they can float for several years before washing ashore, hopefully on our beaches. (Photo of a coral bean in pod by Jim Angy.)

Brevard County beaches are prime spots for finding sea beans, particularly when we've had a lot of wave action - which we have had and are expecting to have this weekend.

The Symposium is held at the Cocoa Beach Library and features exhibits. speakers, and a bean-a-thon. Every year, it attracts more attendees, and it's always standing room only for the speakers.

Over the next few weeks leading up to the event, I'll post more information about the speakers and events, but I wanted to get on your calendars with this.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The NFL Kicks Off - In Iraq and Afghanistan


(This is a reprint of last year's post about the first NFL game of the season. We weren't in Afghanistan then. Once again, I'll think of our warfighters as I watch the game, and hope that they are safely gathered around their TV sets watching it too.)

Tonight, finally, the NFL kicks off its season. The first game of the season brings memories of 2003, the year the Iraq war started in earnest. I was working for Harris Corporation, a major defense communications equipment manufacturer. In April of that year, a friend on the manufacturing floor called one day and said it was time we did something to support the troops and I should organize something. So after we put up some posters and had a few meetings, we packed about 60 shoeboxes and sent them to a contact in Iraq. Bear in mind, this was just a couple of months after everything over there started, so the infrastructure for our warfighters was pretty slim. The response from the troops that received our shoeboxes was heartwarming, so we did a 4th of July mailing and pretty much adopted a Signal Battalion in Camp Adder and a Signal Brigade in Mosul. By this time, we were getting some fairly regular correspondence, and it became apparent that a lot of the soldiers really missed their sporting events, so we started planning for the start of football season. We shipped over 350 pounds of chips, peanuts, salsa, nacho cheese sauce, door prizes, disposables, and instructions (for example: Put cheese in disposable pan, cover with plastic wrap, and set on top of humvee hood to heat). The party took place September 7, when the troops watched the first NFL games, with a delay of about 8 hours because of time differences.

Door prizes (the football team cheerleader posters were a big hit!)

Local businesses supported the effort whole-heartedly. Texas Roadhouse donated 100 pounds of peanuts in the shell. Publix kicked in 64 pounds of salsa. Sodexho provided chips for 350, enough jalapeno slices for an entire Army, and disposables. Carroll Distributing provided customized 3 ft x 6 ft Budweiser banners. The Tampa Bay Bucs, Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars each sent posters and team memorabilia. Harris provided 10-ft long banners for each location proclaiming “The NFL Kicks Off In Iraq”, and Harris employees brought in football magazines. Cash donations filled in the holes – nacho cheese sauce, four footballs, ESPN stadium music, and tickets for door prizes. And Harris picked up the shipping costs, which made everything possible.

These soldiers were two of the party committee that set everything up - including spelling out NFL with cups of peanuts. So young, so lovely, so handsome.

The parties were a huge success. We got reports that a great time was had by all – lots of cheering and lots of eating - and that the troops were genuinely delighted that people they don’t know would throw them a party. The goal was to give troops a touch of home, and in the Battalion CSM's words, “Mission Accomplished”! The Brigade in Mosul reported a “blowout” party, even though the satellite card for their TV did not arrive, so they had no football.

We continued our support with Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day parties, with a final banner welcoming the troops home. It's hard to believe that seven years have passed.

So tomorrow I'll get back to talking about beach things, but tonight I'm going to watch football and think of our warfighters around the world and hope they are getting a chance to watch it too. HOO-AH!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I treasure good customer service

A couple of weeks ago, I witnessed some dreadful customer service (with my "hair on fire", I tracked down a manager and told him exactly how poor it was) and experienced some excellent customer service (spent a considerable amount of time writing a commendation letter to Verizon). Decided there had to be a better way, so I whipped up these little cards. They are the size of business cards, and you can write the person's name in the blank spot on the back and sign your name (or not). I don't give them out for an expected level of service, so I've only handed out four cards thus far. (I ordered a thousand because of the price break. May take a while to distribute that many. If you want some, let me know.) The smiles on the faces of the recipients of the four cards made the whole thing worth it. When I hand somebody a card, I suggest they give it to their supervisor to put in their personnel folder.
Front:

Back:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Surf's up, Dude!

By tomorrow, Hurricane Earl will be about 350 miles off our coast as he chugs towards North Carolina's Outer Banks as a Category 3 or 4. That's bringing huge waves and fierce rip currents to Brevard's beaches. Margie, our intrepid Cocoa Beach patrol person, sent the above picture and reports that large flotsam is coming in - one of her pix showed big wooden pallets that she'd collected from the beach. Estimates are for 13 foot waves tomorrow. This past weekend, lifeguards were kept busy rescuing folks caught in the rip tides - one person drowned. We'll hope more common sense is applied this coming weekend.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Wetlands Floor

Miss Kitty is wondering where her favorite chair that USED to be in this spot went to.

When last we spoke, my living room was empty and the floor had been stripped down to the concrete. Friend Matt came over Monday night and pulled out those nasty carpet tack strips (ouch). Frank Rao, muralist extraordinaire, arrived bright and early Tuesday morning. We vacuumed one more time to be sure all the dust was up, he fixed some of the more obvious floor flaws, I penned up the cat and the dog in my bedroom (much to the dog's disgust), and we were off to the races!
For a person like myself that thinks in terms of words, not pictures, knowing that the end result would be wonderful is a matter of trust (and having other mural and faux painting work done in my house by Frank and his father, Al).
After Frank applied a base coat, we identified "big picture - this is water, this is marsh" stuff, and he started blocking in colors.


Once the floor was taking shape, Frank started bringing the art up the walls. What fun! (Thanks to prodigiously talented friends like Charlie Corbeil, Jim Angy, Matt MacQueen, and Wayne Matchett, I had some wonderful reference photos for Frank. I pulled them into a PowerPoint presentation on my laptop that Frank could move around with him.) His first scene was a wetlands view behind the 20 foot curly willow tree that stands in one corner. After I saw that, I was hooked into more wall art, so I now have an anhinga in nuptial plumage drying his wings by the dining room table area, a great blue heron with his neck curled around a light switch by the sliding glass door, a pig frog by the guest bathroom, and a dragonfly in another corner. (We sea-bean symposium folks think that Cathie Katz comes back to us as a dragonfly, so of course there had to be a tribute dragonfly.) An alligator on the floor will peer at guests sitting on the couch. Grasses coming up the walls tie the whole thing together. (Ignore the African art - it will get moved into the Safari Room.)


Yesterday, the final clear sealer coat went on - we're done! Well, at least with the art. Furniture can go back in place mid-week, after everything cures for the appropriate amount of time. (Frank worked extra hard to come up with products that were pet-friendly in terms of limited outgassing - we kept a lot of fans going, and it was not smelly at all.) Rope lights will go along the baseboards. Artificial water lilies will be scattered on the floor. A frog statue that I've had for years will now sit on a lily pad. I gracefully turned down a friend's offer for a canoe that could be used as a couch - we certainly don't want to go over the top here :)

DONE! Matt came over yesterday and shot a short video - when that gets edited, I'll post it and you'll get a better idea of the finished product - a thing of beauty! Frank's new web site is in work - when that is up and running next week, I'll provide you with a link to it so you can see some of his other creations. Meanwhile, if you need a mural or faux art, Frank is your man!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ode to a good son

If you're lucky, your child grows up to be a happy, productive, competent person. My son Charlie is all of these things, and more. In addition, he supports my quirky ideas with minimal flack. Case in point is this last week, when he came over for a couple of days to prep my living room so that Frank Rao can paint a wetlands mural on the floor (this will be so cool). In addition to moving furniture and removing and disposing of carpet, he put in a new shower head, installed a lattice barrier along the balcony railing so the cat and dog won't jump through, cleaned the gutters, detected a backed-up overflow drain in my garage A/C and fixed that, cleaned the refrigerator coils, rescreened the screen door and put in a "butt panel", and installed a screen over my neighbor's A/C grate because she was worried about the leaves getting in the unit. Whenever we go through these "honey do" events, I continue to be impressed and delighted with the wide variety of things Charlie does well and his calm, practical approach to solving problems. The photo is a couple of years old, but a favorite of mine - shows Charlie and his wife Melea, with their rescue greyhound, Cheyenne. I got lucky with Melea, too - she and Charlie have been married for nearly 20 years. She's charming and intelligent and the perfect daughter-in-law. She's training to walk 60 miles in the Susan B. Koman 3-Day Walk for the Cure in October (20 miles a day). We'll talk more about that later, but anybody willing to train outside in August in Florida has my admiration!

Amongst their many skills and interests, Charlie and Melea are long-time volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), and a few weeks ago they received a new CCI puppy they have nicknamed Tank. For those of you unfamiliar with CCI, it is an organization that provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities. Charlie and Melea will care for, train, and socialize Tank for 18 months, after which time he will go off to "college" to work with his permanent owner.
A week from now, my living room floor will be a thing of beauty, and there will be pictures, of course. Meanwhile, here's to good kids everywhere!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drunk as a ...

Friend Ann, Sea Turtle Preservation Society volunteer extraordinaire, spends a lot of time on the beach during sea turtle nesting and hatching season, but this was a first for her. She described her experience thusly:

"This morning after survey when we were dumping our trash, we heard a hiss from the trash can. When Alex looked in the can, she saw this opposum staring at her. He was quite upset to have styrofoam thrown on him. We decided to tilt the can and let him out. First, lots of cans and bottles and alcohol-smelling liquid fell out, and then out came the possom, soaking wet and reeking of beer.


He staggered over to the sea grapes and eventually climbed up on a limb. At first we thought he was sick or injured, but he seemed to recover pretty quickly. "

Well, the title would have rhymed better if it had been a skunk, but we certainly thank Ann for saving the inebriated possum and sending us the photos!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

WWII Anniversary

Today marks the 65th anniversary of V-J Day - Victory over Japan, the end of WW II. This iconic photo speaks to the jublient crowds that rushed into New York's Times Square to celebrate after President Harry S. Truman announced the victory. (Photo by Victor Jorgensen, The Associated Press File, snagged from the Orlando Sentinel.) Friend Robin Chapman has an excellent post about V-J Day in her Robin Chapman News blog, as well as a guest post by historian Steve Thompson. When you finish with those two posts, be sure to wander around her blog a little - as a former TV news anchor, Robin has a real way with words!

As always, a grateful salute to all our warfighters, past and present.

Reference Links:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More cabbages and kings

"The time has come,' the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and kings -- And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings." (The Walrus an the Carpenter, Lewis Carroll)

It's a lovely, rainy Sunday afternoon (and we really need the rain) - a perfect time to catch up a little.

I often use Charlie Corbeil's beautiful photos on here. Many of those photos come from the Viera Wetlands, where Charlie can be found every morning and every evening, taking pictures and checking up on things. A couple of years ago, I introduced Charlie to a friend who at the time was the editor of Viera Voice, a local monthly newspaper. Thereafter, every issue had one of Charlie's photos in it. Recently, Viera Voice took it to the next level and produced a charming video featuring Charlie in the Wetlands. It's on YouTube, and the link is in Reference Links below. I was amazed at how "un-nervous" Charlie was - and his love of the area and the inhabitants comes through loud and clear! (The photo is one I took of Charlie and the Viera Wetlands sign featuring one of his photos.)

David McRee did a terrific post about Blair Witherington on his Blog the Beach site (link is likewise in Reference Links below). As faithful readers know, Blair and Dawn have spent their summer out on boats in the Gulf rescuing oiled sea turtles. I recently sent a card featuring one of Jim Angy's sea turtle hatchling photos to Fed Ex, with a note thanking them for their generous donation of resources to transport the coolers full of eggs from the Gulf Coast to Kennedy Space Center (see last couple of posts for a description of this monumental task). There's a link below to a Fed Ex site that describes the logistics involved in the transport - a very impressive effort. And the good part is, according to a recent story in Florida Today, it's working! The story reports that since 11 July, some 2,600 hatchlings have been released from KSC beaches. The eggs are hatching at an 80 percent to 95 percent rate, better than in the wild. An added bonus is the lack of artificial lighting on the beaches where the hatchlings are being released, so there's less disorientation.

I was so touched when co-workers in another state recently made a donation in my name to the Audubon Nature Institute Sea Turtle and Marine Mammal Response Fund for "rescuing, rehabilitating and successfully releasing stranded and injured sea turtles and marine mammals." The Beatles said it well - we get by with a little help from our friends.

Friend Marilyn and I attended the third annual Tour de Turtle release at the Barrier Island Center last Sunday. This event is sponsored by the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC), formerly the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (CCC). The last two releases were over an hour after the advertised time of 8:00 a.m., so one had to hang around on a hot beach while the resin affixing the transmitter cured. So I suggested to Marilyn that we plan to arrive about 9:00. Well, wouldn't you know - as we pulled in, cars were pulling out. A quick-curing epoxy was used in place of the resin, and Hope (so named in a contest) swam out shortly after 8:00. The good news is that there was a record crowd of spectators (over 600), and we bought cool t-shirts. And ate a good breakfast at Friendly Toast on the way home. Check the STC link below for Hope's progress.

Reference Links:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Catching Up

Artist Vickie Henderson visited me a couple of weeks ago, and I was again reminded of the many natural wonders Brevard County has to offer. Thanks to friends Jim Angy, Wayne Matchett, Charlie Corbeil, Vince Lamb, and Dave Hotchberg (STPS), Vickie saw everything from beach sunrises to wildflowers to deer to sea turtles laying eggs. She took at least a million photos (never go on a nature walk with two photographers - every two steps, it's "oh look at this", and it's 95 degrees in the shade!). She brought some beautiful greeting cards featuring her field journal sketches of limpkins and scrub jays - just gorgeous. (I'll let you know when she figures out how to commercially produce and market them.) This was her first adventure with sea turtles, and I'm eager to see the artistic results! (Wayne took this photo of Vickie while they were investigating wildflowers at Wickham Park. See Related Links for his post about the trip.)

Dawn and Blair Witherington are again out on a boat involved in oiled sea turtle rescue - this time near Destin, Florida. Dawn's last email said that the rough weather was keeping them in port for the day, but they hoped to get back out soon. I've talked often and lovingly of Witherington's current book, Florida's Living Beaches, but Blair's earlier book, Sea Turtles: An Extraordinary Natural History of Some Uncommon Turtles, is perhaps more apropos at the moment.
In my last post, I provided a link to an article from the LA Times that spoke of burning the turtles along with the sargassum. Four non-profit agencies have sued to prevent that from continuing.

This photo of sea turtle eggs in a nest is one of Jim Angy's. The eggs are about the size of pingpong balls, with a leathery shell. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is implementing a plan to excavate Gulf Coast sea turtle nests that are 49 days old (about 11 days prior to typical hatching), carefully put the eggs in specially constructed coolers lined with sand to simulate a nest, and haul the coolers via climate-controlled FedEx trucks to the facility at Kennedy Space Center that was used during the cold stun event. When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles will be released into the (hopefully and blessedly) oil-free ocean here in Brevard. A sea turtle nest will have about 100 eggs in it; there are typically about 700 nests in the affected area. That's 70,000 eggs! Along with everything else associated with this oil gusher, this is the first time anything like this has been attempted, and my hat is off to the folks at FWC who have put this plan together so quickly. Nobody loves the idea of moving eggs, but if they don't, all those babies are doomed as soon as they hit the water. I'll keep you posted. (Photo by Jim Angy)

Reference Links:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oil Spill Burn Box

As those who know them might expect, Dawn and Blair Witherington have been actively involved in sea turtle rescue necessitated by the Deep Horizon gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. Working from a boat with five others, Dawn described it simply as "horrible." She's back home, but Blair is still out there. The day after Dawn returned to Brevard, a reporter from the LA Times accompanied the rescuers on the boat and filed this story. Dawn says it describes everything perfectly. The story is called Death by Fire in the Gulf and starts out with "So-called burn boxes are torching oil from the water's surface at the sacrifice of turtles, crabs, sea slugs and other sea life."

I hate the effects of this gusher on the marinelife, but even more so, I'm so sorry that folks like Blair and Dawn, whose life purpose is to preserve and protect these critters and educate others about them, are being subjected to these horrors. This is a nature lover's war, and the scars will linger a long time. But Dawn shared her perspective thusly. She says there is a term for not being able to help - "compassion fatigue." She said that she was depressed before they went out there, and that while the whole thing was disturbing, being able to save turtles helped her mood a lot.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Here's looking at you, kids!

I don't think visually, so when an image lingers in my mind, it's a strong one. That's the way I felt about Charlie Corbeil's photo of these Great Horned Owl chicks. After a day of seeing them in my head, I asked Charlie for permission to share the photo and for some details.
If he is in town, Charlie is at Viera Wetlands every morning and every evening, and this was his first sighting of a Great Horned Owl there. He tells me that the soft, light feathers on their foreheads identifies them as chicks. He says they were quite large, and he figures they flew from their nest tree to this palm tree. He first saw them last weekend while he was walking the roadway early in the morning . (Click on the photo to enlarge so you can spot the third chick.) They were still in the same position, same tree that afternoon, but gone the next morning, confirming his suspicion that they fledged their nest and were trying out their wings. He didn't ever see any adult Owl supervision.
I love this photo - thanks, Charlie! (See a link to his web site in Reference Links below.)
If you have not visited Wayne's Space Coast Wildflowers blog lately, be sure to do so - he added three new posts yesterday about beach wildflowers. Somehow, many of us think of the beach as a stretch of bare sand, but it's ever so much more.

Reference Links:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Your Face in Space

Cactus Jack and Caroline, this is for you!

NASA is encouraging people to send electronic images of their faces to fly into orbit aboard one of the two final remaining space shuttle missions.

To put your face in space, follow these directions:

1. Go to http://faceinspace.nasa.gov/
2. Upload your image or type in your name to be flown aboard a space shuttle.
3. Print and save the confirmation page.
4. After the mission, return to the website and print your "flight certificate."

You can read the whole story as it appeared in our local Florida Today newspaper here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

If you love wildflowers ...

I'm delighted to announce a new blog that features the wildflowers of Brevard County, Florida. Long-time friend Wayne Matchett has gathered his hundreds of wildflower photos into one location - the result is Space Coast Wildflowers, and it's a dandy reference. Wayne has gone to considerable effort to provide locations, closeup and context photos, common and scientific names, reference material, and labels. (As you wildflower aficianados know, a closeup photo of a wildflower can make a tiny flower look really big, so having the context photos really gives you a sense of scale.) As the site's title notes, this is a growing collection. As I write this, Wayne and his wife are braving the heat and humidity to hunt for wildflowers in St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park.

My Eco blog has "field trip reports" on some of the locations Wayne has identified in his posts, but not all - he really gets around! At some point, we plan to collaborate on a four-fold reference brochure.

Wayne's contact information is on his site - if you have questions, corrections, or comments, he'll be pleased to hear from you.

On a separate note, today is the 66th anniversary of D-Day and the invasion that turned the tide of World War II. When I bought my Buddy Poppy for Memorial Day and thanked the elderly Veteran for his service, he said "Oh, that was a long time ago." I suspect he was a Korean War Vet. It's hard to believe the WW II vets are in their late 80s and 90s now. The Orlando Sentinel carried this story about the invasion and its terrible toll on the troops. As always, our thanks for Warfighters past and present.