Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gopher Tortoise

During a trip to Sanibel Island , Florida in July I saw this gopher tortoise grazing along the grassy strip between the paved bike path and the road. Several people had stopped to observe him (her) and one person was attempting to use his bike as a barricade to keep it from wandering out into the road. I doubt it would have done that anyway, because it was clearly there to eat and there was no grass in the road. The interesting thing about this creature to me was it was biting off grass with a vengeance and the ripping grass blades made the same sound they do when a cow is grazing. It was completely unperturbed by the crowd that gathered around it. I suppose it was used to being on display.
Gopher tortoises eat grass, legumes, fruits and other assorted plant materials. The younger ones eat more legumes, probably to increase the protein needed for growth. A typical gopher tortoise needs about 4 acres of territory and may dig several burrows. The burrow may be as long as 48 feet and 3 feet deep. The burrow protects the tortoise from fire, heat , and cold, and predators. They share their burrows with up to 360 different animals (not all at once!). They spend most of their time in the burrow and are solitary except during mating season. They reach sexual maturity at 12-15 years and some reports claim they can live 100 years. (Others say 40 years.)

Rainbow in Back Yard

Late yesterday afternoon we had a rainbow in our back yard. This is a poor picture, but I hope you can make out the outline of it. It goes from the lowest leaves on the oak on the left, over the gazebo and seems to touch the oak in the foreground.
This is the second time I have seen a rainbow in the back yard. The other time it was brighter and in a slightly different place.
Amazing!A special gift, even as on the coast people are waiting for Hurricane Issac.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shell Flower Creations

While we were at Sanibel Island one day we went to the Community Center and found a group of people making crafts from shells. Some of the items were so exquisite that I would never even consider trying to make them myself (click here to get an idea). Bill Jordan is a real artist, with extreme patience.
 But I was able to make  a passable flower from periwinkle shells. It helped that they had oodles of shells in all colors already sorted to choose from. There are lots of these shells on Sanibel and almost any beach I ever visited but the key is having enough shells so you can choose the size and color you need to make a flower that looks at least somewhat like a flower. The shells need to be all about the same size and color (except for the ones that stand up in the center.)  The center yellow part is ground up shells colored yellow. The flowers are put together with hot glue (use a melt pot to keep from getting too much and having glue string everywhere.) It was fun and the people were all so helpful and interesting.

Here is a real expert working.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sanibel Island in July

Sanibel Island is a special place to me.  Sometimes I just have to relax and let the joy of it seep in.
 Below is a sample of the shells we found in July. There seemed to be an extra number of small beautiful shells. One day there were a lot of fighting conchs (the orange larger shell on the bottom left), but for the most part the shells were smaller, but maybe more interesting for being smaller. See that piece of Junonia on the left side just above the green thing and 2 cones? Hannah found several pieces, but a whole shell for her is still elusive.
If you want to see a whole Junonia, and learn more about it , you can look here.
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