BACK TO THE BEACH

I made my first trip to the beach for the year and found things in good shape and headed for better.  I was pleased and impressed to find many stores open but there are more to come.  Even the Ferris Wheel was dressed up for the weekend.  Beach Haven favorites and stand-bys such as Buckalews and Uncle Will’s and Hands and Fred’s Diner are open for business.  There are, however, still many signs of damage and sadness as people work to restore their summer and even year-round homes.  My friend, Nick, continues to restore the boat landing at the end of my street where there is still evidence of damage but signs of life coming back.

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These tulips had about five feet of salt water above them during Sandy.  Yet, here they are.  Nick also has most of the Purple Martin houses re-erected.

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At the beach the artificial dunes created post-Sandy presently block the entrance from the street ends and give one the feeling of being on the edge of a great desert.

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Clearly, however, people are crossing the desert and the dune, and wandering around

Where'd everybody go?

Where’d everybody go?

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The erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy has exposed a number of groins and jetties from past years.

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It’s a good feeling to see people back enjoying what the beach has to offer.

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FLORIDA … IT’S FOR DA BOIDS

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Feeling cold and crotchety in mid-February I decided I should take the cure in Florida.  My friend was amenable so off we went, first to her family condo at Delray Beach.  The sun was shining and it was warm and we enjoyed a pleasant few days there.  We justified the cocktail hours with a little work, redoing a stepping stone path from the lanaii to the lawn with its sunset bench by the lake.

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One of the highlights of the area is the Wakodahatchee Wetlands.  This excellent project of Palm Beach County’s Utilities Department is a fifty acre meadow traversed by three quarters of a mile of boardwalks through and around marshes and ponds and thickets of nesting and resting bird life.  We visited it last year (see Wakodahatchee Wetlands) and it was great even without my long lens.  This year I brought the lens (100-400mm) and I was pleased with the results.

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There is the usual array of Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, and Anhingas.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Anhinga

Anhinga

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A fun capture for me was this Red-winged Blackbird.  I’ve heard them in the fragmites and other shore foliage all my life, and watched them flit between hiding places, never pausing long enough to be captured.  This one did, and I was pleased to find the splashes of yellow under the red.

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From Delray Beach we headed across Alligator Alley to another favorite place…Sanibel Island.  After a few days on the beach there I began to think that maybe I could get into this Florida-in-February thing.  It is a quiet, laid back life pretty much focusing, for us, on the beach, the wildlife refuge, the competitive shelling, and looking for the green flash.  The opening scene above was taken early in the morning on our adjacent beach.  Here’s another scene illustrating what’s referred to as the “Sanibel Stoop.”

The Sanibel Stoop

The Sanibel Stoop

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As the above scene and the one below suggest, the weather wasn’t splendid every day but it didn’t get in our way.  One morning started this way but eventually cleared enough for a float-boat ride with a naturalist through the mangrove thickets of Tarpon Bay.

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We also went through the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge three times including once with a guide which was worthwhile.  And, we toured the excellent educational visitor’s center.  On the refuge trail I managed to capture something new for me: juvenile ibises, long legged, long billed wading birds. 

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On our last day on our way off the island we took one final swing through the refuge.  I was thrilled to capture this Yellow Crowned Night Heron.  They don’t come easy; they’re named Night Heron for a reason.  This one, however, was locked in on something, never flinching as I got close enough for the capture.  The feather detail and colors are beautiful and the yellow stripe and its head spike-feathers are high-five sporty.——————————————————————————————–

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Waiting for the green flash.  An evening ritual.

Waiting for the green flash. An evening ritual.

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For more scenes from the trip please click here.

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