Sunday, December 23, 2012

Birding & Wildlife Festival, 1/23 - 1/28/13

Hard to believe that this is the 16th annual Birding and Wildlife Festival - Jim Angy, Matt MacQueen, and I participated in the first one, hosting a table displaying our wildlife photo albums on CD.  As you might expect, the first Festival had light attendance - in the 500s.  Now, it is a world-class event, drawing vendors and participants from all over the world, with thousands of visitors over the five days (January 23 - 28, 2013).  The web site is complete and informative, so I won't go into much detail, except to urge you to attend.  There are field trips (including a pelagic birding boat trip), instructional programs, the Raptor Project (you have to see this to believe it - all these huge Raptors displayed on the stage, almost within touching distance, and posing as if they were fashion models!), art show, vendors - and the list goes  on.   There are some free events, but many have fees attached and require pre-registration - the web site has all the details.  (Photo, "Feeding Frenzy", Wayne Matchett)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans Day 2012


Photo copyright Jim Angy

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hank for Senate

Had lunch yesterday with friend Marilyn, and she introduced me to Hank for Senate.  Before you curl your lip and exit this post, please understand that Hank is a Maine Coon Cat.  As one who frequently tells co-workers that her African Grey could conduct a better meeting than some of them, you won't be surprised at my whole-hearted endorsement of Hank.

The web site for Hank for Senate is a beauty - stunning pictures, very clever writing. And if you've ever had a cat, you can well appreciate how much time and skill went in to getting the lovely photographs.  You can order bumper stickers, yard signs, etc - and the best part is that proceeds go to help animal rescue efforts. 

So for a little light-hearted break from this season's vitriolic campaigns, visit Hank for Senate.
(Photo copied from Hank's site)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, 1930 - 2012

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82.

The TV reception was flickery, but what a thrill to watch that first step and hear the words - "That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," - July 20, 1969. 


Photo courtesy of NASA; visit

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A good Saturday

What a pleasant Saturday - learned new things and ate yummy food with good friends.  Every Saturday should be this good!

David McRee recently updated his FREE downloadable ebook, Beach Survival Guide.  This little gem provides easy-to-understand information on how to be safe from sharks,jellyfish, stingrays, ripcurrents (and more).  He's developed a most informative, interesting presentation that he gave at the Cocoa Beach Library today.  Margie Mitchell and I were in attendance, and afterward David, his wife Sue, Margie, and I had a delightful long lunch at Slow and Low, a favorite bbq place in Cocoa Beach.   David will be participating in the annual Sea Bean Symposium in October, and I hope he will give the same presentation then, as it was just full of good information about beach awareness. 

You can download the ebook from either his blog or his web site

Monday, July 23, 2012

R.I.P. Sally Ride

Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, died today at age 61 of pancreatic cancer.  Dr. Ride joined the astronaut program in 1978 and flew on shuttle missions in 1983 and 1984.  She retired from NASA in 1987 and joined the faculty of University of California San Diego as a physics professor and director of the California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, a private company dedicated to encouraging boys and girls pursue careers in science.  She served on numerous boards and received numerous awards, but what I remember  most is when her missions blasted off, all I could think of was "Ride, Sally - Ride!"  She was a pioneer in many areas.  RIP

(Picture courtesy of NASA; Sally Ride in 1984)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Got Fish?

Tropical Storm Debbie dropped some much needed rain on us here in Brevard County (east coast of Florida), but she hit the west coast and the Panhandle area much harder.  Suzi Fox, Director of the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, reported major sea turtle nest losses, although we're hoping that perhaps the nests were intact but the marking sticks were washed away.  (Be sure to check out their new web site - attractive and informative.)  Locally, our sea turtle nests fared well, and friends report a great year thus far in terms of quantity and choice of nesting spots. 

In the Panhandle, pelican parents fled for their lives, leaving the little ones behind.  Rescue organizations there have farmed out the babies to various rehab facilities across the state.  Margie Mitchell, a volunteer at the local Florida Wildlife Hospital, sent this picture of the pelicans they received.  The babies are in an inside cage in this photo, but the next day, they were moved to the outdoor shorebird cage, and she sent a charming video.  As you can see in the video, these little kids have voracious appetites, so I'm going to send out an appeal to all the fishermen I know to BRING FISH!

David McRee, aka BeachHunter, has done some good blog posts on TS Debbie aftermath.  David recently updated his excellent FREE Beach Survival e-book, and you can download it from his Blog the Beach site.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy World Sea Turtle Day

Today is World Sea Turtle Day, named in honor of the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr who was the father of modern sea turtle biology.  Locally, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society and the Sea Turtle Conservancy are hosting events.  This is my favorite photo of Archie Carr - he and some of his students attaching balloons to sea turtles so they could track their ocean travels (photo courtesy of Sea Turtle Conservancy).  See my 2009 post about this at

The Sea Turtle Conservancy newsletter provided this excellent background information:

"A renowned herpetologist, naturalist and professor of zoology at the University of Florida, Dr. Carr is perhaps best known to the public as the author of eloquent books about sea turtles and the tropics. For those familiar with sea turtle research and conservation, Dr. Carr is revered for his scientific contributions and vision. He was passionate about sea turtles, and his enthusiasm was contagious. Born in 1909, Dr. Carr spent his career in the Americas where sea turtles were intensely exploited for much of the 20th Century, just as they were in other areas of the world.  Dr. Carr left a remarkable legacy of science and conservation, including a program that has safeguarded an imperiled assemblage of nesting green sea turtles in Tortuguero along the wild Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.  Dr. Carr would be enormously pleased by the ongoing success of green turtles in Tortuguero and closer to home in Florida, where formerly depleted populations of green turtles are nesting in greater numbers each year. He would be excited too by the powerful conservation ethic for sea turtles emerging in much of the world. After decades of conservation, the remarkable resurgence of the Kemp's ridley in the Gulf of Mexico and the hawksbill in the Caribbean, two species in a perilous state at the time of his passing in 1987, are cause for celebration. As envisioned by Dr. Carr, good will and good science are the foundation for preventing the extinction of sea turtles in our modern world, but efforts must be concerted and they must be long-term."

Happy Birthday, Dr. Carr!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Checking In

Friend Wayne gently reminded me that it was probably time for a blog post, and he is right - I missed posting about the inaugural launch of Dragon and nearly missed paying tribute to Memorial Day.  And my last post (October! - where does the time go?) invited you to come to Florida to escape the winter weather.  Well, we had a particularly hot "winter" this year, skipped spring and jumped right into summer, and are currently on the southern edge of a tropical storm.  So ...

Last Tuesday, SpaceX, a private company, launched a spaceship named Dragon to the International Space Station that successfully docked there, becoming the first non-government ship to do so.  It is indeed a paradigm shift.  This was not just to see if it could be done - at stake is a billion dollar contract to ferry supplies to the Space Station.  John Kelley, Space writer for local newspaper Florida Today, noted:  The old way of developing space vehicles is dead. With fewer people, less time and a fraction of the money that the government would have spent, Elon Musk and his company, Space Exploration Technologies, designed and built a new spaceship, launched it on the company’s own Falcon 9 rocket and flew the craft to the International Space Station. Dragon’s arrival at the orbiting lab on Friday was not only historic, but also game-changing.

The photo (courtesy of NASA) shows Dragon as it nears capture by the ISS robotic arm. 

 Most of the residents in my little development fly the American flag on a daily basis.  Tomorrow, we will remember the men and women who died serving in the United States Armed Forces. Accordingly, the flag should be flown at half staff until noon.  At noon, it is to be raised to full staff to demonstrate that their sacrifice was not in vain.