Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Exquisite Vessel

The purpose of our overnight trip to St. Augustine was to see the two tall ships that are at dock near the Bridge of Lions. B had seen tall ships when he was in the Navy in San Francisco, but I had only seen pictures of them. I wanted to see them live and "in person."

Here they are as we saw them the first evening.

The larger one is a replica of a Spanish galleon and the smaller one is a replica of Magellan's ship that circumnavigated the earth. Both were made in the same shipyard as the originals. Think about that. These ships originally sailed in the 1500s. 

Both are available for tour. B and I toured only the galleon but our friend toured them both. He reported that the galleon was much more refined.

The main mast on the galleon above is said to be ten stories high. 

There are five decks and we were on each. On a lower deck, we watched a video that showed the making of this ship. 

Here is the lantern.

Here is a closer look at the ornate lantern.

Here is the ship's bell.

I loved the detail in the captain's quarters.

Florida maps were still evolving.

The ship is well armed with many iron cannons.

And here is how you board from the water. Watch your step: the little trap door is for a cannon.

We gladly took a ramp from the dock and thoroughly enjoyed our tour.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mystery Flowers

We found this lovely flower blooming at Vilano amidst some sedges in the beach sand by the boardwalk. There were several of them. We have not identified them and if someone sees them and can, it would be most appreciated. Note the calico buds beside the blooming plant.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Attempted Murder of a Star

When we were walking down to the beach at Vilano, a trio of teens was coming back up. We overheard them talking about finding a starfish.

On our return to the car, we stopped off at the bathroom and discovered this small collection of shells and a sea star, also called a starfish. There was no one around.

Its tube feet were still moving, indicating it was alive and might possibly survive its relocation and abandonment. 

B made the long walk back and carried it to the sea. 

I can count on one hand the sea stars I have seen in all my decades in Florida. It is sad to me that the teens knew it was alive and yet left it to die. On the other hand, I will kill a roach in my house with no remorse. Is it a fine line for me to judge them?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Skimming the Surface

Last weekend, we made an over-night trip to St. Augustine. In the morning after breakfast, we walked the beach at Vilano. A very large colony of seabirds was onshore. The morning sun backlit them and shown through their beaks dramatically. At first, I thought they were terns because of the red on their beaks.

There were only a few terns, such as the one below, which I think is a Royal Tern. It "terns" out, most were black skimmers.

In the picture of the yawning bird below, you can see how much longer the lower bill of the skimmer is than the top. This allows them to fly just above the surface of the water and skim for small fish and crustaceans. Interestingly, I read that the bills are of equal length as hatchlings but grow disproportionately as juveniles. 

We were careful to keep our distance and walked up on the wide shore so as not to disturb them. We were down the beach a ways when we heard their wings. A mother thought nothing of letting her two children run at them. You can see that the gulls were less impressed. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Truck Decal Seen in a Parking Lot

It's clever, but the message is lost on me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Not sure that fence is going to be effective, though.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Female Anhinga: All Dressed Up

I always think these pretty birds look like they are wearing suede.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The X and the Y

B pointed out that it looks like this female grackle had crossed her legs. Perhaps she was in a long bathroom line? It is an illusion, but that is the X part of the picture. Now you have to find the Y all on your own.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Great Bill on a Great Egret

As the sun was sinking in the evening sky, this egret was backlit, showing off a colorful beak.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An Osprey's Christmas Dinner

We stopped out at Fort Island out from Crystal River for a picnic  on our trip home on Christmas Day. It was a beautiful day and we took a short walk around. Our son located a geocache while we watched this osprey fly from pole to pole with a fish in tow.

 I was surprised to see it take off with only one foot holding the fish.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hawk in the Cherry Tree

The yard was full of sparrows and cardinals and squirrels-- and then they just vanished. They had seen this big hawk coming in to check out the possibilities of some fast food on a cool day --and declined to be on the menu.

I'm pretty sure it is a red-tail.