S is for Shorebirds

Shorebirds are celebrated all over the world each year in September. World Shorebird Day was actually September 6th this year (2016) but we will celebrate today, too.

Have you ever taken the time to just sit on the shore and watch the birds?  Put the phone away, stop talking to the person you’re with, put down that book…just watch the birds.  They are amazing. The run so fast, they peck at the micro organisms on the sand that they eat, they fly and dive after fish. And the gulls…they’ll pester you to death, nagging you for a piece of your popcorn, chips, sandwich, candy, anything… I once pretended to eat something. I held out my left hand and used my right to pretend to take something and put it to my mouth. I did this a few times and had a flock of seagulls suddenly standing at my feet.

Shorebirds are really essential to our ecosystem. When birds start falling from the sky, something is wrong for all of us. When shorebirds die from something in the water, we need to be attentive.  If these birds cannot nest and bring forth young ones to carry on, our ecosystem can get out of balance.  What shorebirds eat keeps the balance of organisms in the water and in the sand.  For example, if there are no Red knots to feed on horseshoe crab eggs, there will be too many horseshoe crabs. Shorebirds dine on fish, crabs, sea worms, plankton, shell fish and more. This food chain keeps the balance.

Check out a map of the migratory flyways and pay attention to the months the birds are migrating. The Gulf Coast gets a great variety of birds coming and going. For some shorebirds the Gulf Coast is the southern end of their migration; for others it’s the northern end.  Try to get involved in a local volunteer activity relating to shorebirds when  you visit the beaches or if you live there year-round. Audubon has a presence in most coastal areas or contact the local Extension office.101_1414_00

Visit my webpage, Save-the-Chicks.com, for information about shorebird nesting and make a pledge to Save the Chicks.

Another great site: Migratory Shorebird Project

S is for Shorebird.

 

 

S is for Sunset

While I adore a beautiful sunrise, there is nothing like a sunset at the beach, especially in September. Why? Because of the shift of the sun, the growing length of shadows and the crisper air.

Another great reason I love sunsets is the green flash. According to Wikipedia: “Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two.”

Have  you ever seen a green flash?  I have…I’ve seen many and it’s so cool, and not just in September. As you sit there on the beach with family or friends, the sun sets and you anticipate this little green (and I mean little) light at the tail end of the sun sinking beneath the horizon. If it doesn’t happen, you can hear the folks around you moaning. Of course, it is a bit disappointing but the sunset is beautiful regardless.

Enjoy these photos of sunsets off the coast of west Florida.

 

S is for sunset.

S is for Sunglasses

You can never have too many pairs of sunglasses. Especially if you are me. I usually carry a small cross-body purse/wallet and wear my shades but occasionally throw everything in a tote, including my sunglasses and my keys. Uh oh!  All of my sunglasses are so scratched up.

September is a fantastic month to stock up on sunglasses. Usually not a winter accessory, sunglasses are on clearance in September. I have been shopping the sales and collecting what I can that looks good for my face shape.

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My newest shades

I don’t understand why sunglasses are difficult to find during the winter months. Except for sunglasses-specialty shops, sunglasses just don’t show up in many stores across the US in the fall and winter.  The sun still shines during the cold months, doesn’t it?  I thought so.  People still need eye protection during these months regardless of the angle of the sun. I think as a fashion accessory sunglasses should be available year-round; but retailers continue to clear them out of inventory during September to make way for hats, scarves and mittens.

Regardless…protect your eyes all year long. Stock up on sunglasses right now while they are on clearance in most parts of the country.

S is for sunglasses.

S is for Saltwater Taffy

Oh, when I was a kid my family would spend weekends and sometimes week-long vacations in Ocean City, MD. After a fun day at the beach, we’d have a seafood dinner and then walk the Boardwalk. We’d shop, play skeeball and that game where you squirt water into a clown’s mouth to blow up a balloon. Then we’d make spin art and ride some rides.

We never left to go back home without a box of Salt Water Taffy.

Going “downey a-shun”, as they say in Baltimore, is never complete without salt water taffy. The assortment of flavors meant arguments on the way home between me and my brothers as we  positioned ourselves for our favorite.  I liked the minty green-and-white striped taffy.  The Licorice flavor was great, too. Mom and Dad also had their favorites but, like most parents, they waited until we had our picks and then took from what was left. And there was always that one flavor no one wanted. I can’t remember what it was; just remember it sat until we decided to throw it out.

Then, we were off to another weekend at the beach.

What’s your favorite salt water taffy memory?

S is for salt water taffy.

S is for Suntan

Warm sunshine feels great on my skin. I love to sit and soak it up, get a little sun-kissed color.

My health practitioner recommends 20 minutes of daily, unblocked sunshine especially in the winter months. We tend to spend too much time indoors these days: air conditioning feels better than sweat, our technology binds us indoors, most people work indoors, school just started and on and on and on.  Sunshine is our natural source for Vitamin D. It doesn’t have to break down from a pill form to then spread through our bodies for health benefits. It gets absorbed right into our skin, the largest organ of our body. And, it is said that Vitamin D boosts our immune system and our spirits.

Most people like a healthy sun-kissed glow but if you over-do it you’ll end up looking like a lobster. Take care to get enough sun, but not too much.

There are other ways to get a sun-tanned look. Spray on tans, tans in a bottle, bronzers. There are still people that like tanning beds, even though they come with health warnings. You decide how you want to get your tan…I’ll just sit out, take a walk, garden, or beach comb for 20 minutes a day to keep my glow and get my Vitamin D.

S is for suntan.

 

S is for Sail, Sailboat and Sailor

When I was younger all I wanted was a sailboat. Ok, I wanted a horse, too, but never got one. My older brother had some interest in sailing, too, so a few years after I graduated from college, he and I took some sailing lessons then pooled our money (he had more) and bought a little sail boat.  It was a little fiberglass boat with teak accessories. It came on a trailer that we hitched to his car since I had a whimpy little car not suitable for hauling boats.

My brother always loved to work on things so he quickly got to work restoring the teak, scraping barnacles, patching dings, painting the hull and whatever else needed to be done. When we could get together I’d meet him after  work for a little sailing around Middle River in Baltimore and then head home.

It was great fun until we realized our schedules were so different and we couldn’t get together often.  We sold the little boat.

I was then on call with friends who had sailboats when they needed extra crew for races on the Chesapeake Bay. My cousin taught me how to sail a Catamaran so I could fill in for his teammate that couldn’t make a big race in Ocean City, MD.

One day I’ll have another little boat that I’ll share with my husband. We’ll scoot around the Intercoastal or around some tropical island. For now I’m just dreaming.

Sand Castle Friday #20

Sand Castle competitions have turned into Sand Sculpture competitions. I guess people feel they can be more creative by sculpting anything they can think of out of sand.

As we approach the Fall and Snowbird weather, beach towns will be hosting sand sculpting competitions. Beaches are less crowded than during the peak summer seasons so sculptors can spread out and create without infringing on someone’s beach blanket space. I hope  you can find some to enjoy.

Here’s a photo I took several years ago on Siesta Key of a sculpture I really like. Its a sculpture of people building a sand castle.  Or, they could be hugging it.

Sand Castle Love!

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Happy Sand Castle Friday!

S is for Scuba

I’ve never been scuba diving although I know plenty of people who have. I live underwater through them.

There is so much to see under water: reefs, fish, marine life, topography, marine plants.

There are plenty of places around the world to go on a scuba adventure. But if you don’t know how, can’t afford the classes and equipment rentals or just feel uncomfortable under water, try snorkeling.

S is for scuba…and snorkeling, too.

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photo credit: Solomon Islands – cavern diving via photopin (license)

S is for Seashell

Oh, the beloved seashell.

Inside lives a sea critter

for a short time

before leaving it

into the wild sea

to get picked up by another

or moved by the currents

and tossed by the waves

to end up in someones hand

and displayed on a shelf

to evoke a fond memory

of a day

at the beach.

Seashell, by Eileen Saunders (c) 2016

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photo (c) 2016 Eileen Saunders

How many seashells do I have in my collection? Thousands I suppose. I’ve given them to people as gifts, sold groups of them to crafters, made decorative items with them and display them in jars in my house. I found the book Florida’s Living Beaches: A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber by Blair and Dawn Witherington and challenged myself to find one of every shell listed in the book. I lost count but my check marks reveal that I may be missing about 20 from my collection.

I am now downsizing my collection, keeping at least 2 of each kind. My kids call this the Ark Collection. I still have jars on display with a variety of shells that won’t go into the Ark. What is left will go into my Etsy store for crafters to purchase and donated to some schools for science classes.  But I can no longer store in boxes what needs to be enjoyed by others.  I have jars of memories to look at.

P.S. I highly recommend the Witherington’s collection of books on living beaches and seashells.

S is for Sea Shell.