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Erin

I coddiwomple through life, guided by my love of nature and insatiable curiosity.

In Honor of…

National Squirrel Appreciation Day I present some of my favorite photos of these furry bundles of energy.

I have a few shots that deserve extra special attention, like this series I snapped in 2010 of a Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel squeezing into his hole in the high country of New Mexico (someone had been preparing for a long winter):

Or this one in Portland, Oregon back in 2012 who was clearly laughing at my attempt to photograph it:

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And my all time favorite, from Rocky Mountain National Park in 2010:

Crazy Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis)

Love them or despise them, you have to admit, they are characters!

High Flyers

As per usual, I spent a few hours on the beach yesterday afternoon. The beach was crowded with people attending the Treasure Island Kite Festival. It was a perfect day for it – warm, sunny, and breezy. The festival continues today and while the breeze is still present the temperatures have dropped and the sun is obscured by clouds which are due to drop rain any minute now.

While I enjoy the pretty colors and interesting designs, I confess I’ve never really been all that into kites. That said, I was mesmerized by the synchronized kite flying team.

Crooked One-eye

Came across these Atlantic Horseshoe Crab (Limulus polyphemus) exuviae (exoskeletal molts) after a big storm two weeks ago. Contrary to what the common name would have you believe, they are not crustaceans. They are more closely related to spiders than crabs.

In a great example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” horseshoe crabs haven’t changed much in the past 450 million years. Often referred to as a living fossil, the casual observer wouldn’t notice any difference between a modern one and it’s ancient relative.

Not surprisingly for a species with such a long record, they are key elements of their ecosystem: they are known as “walking museums” since their carapaces can host a range of organisms (algae, mollusks, barnacles, etc), their multitudes of eggs feed hordes of birds during spring migration, and the adults are a favored food of the threatened Loggerhead Sea Turtle.

Lastly, a bit about the scientific name (because I’m geeky like that – you’re welcome). Limulus is Latin for askew (though I can’t determine how it describes them) while Polyphemus is one of the Greek Cyclopes in Homer’s Odyssey (based on a mistaken belief that they only had on eye).

 

 

 

Serendipitous

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Pin Found in Corpus Christi, Texas September 2019

I stopped one afternoon this past summer to photograph a cool mural in Corpus Christi. The azure, geometrical depiction of waves was the lone bright spot in the entire run-down area. In other words, I wouldn’t have stopped there, alone, at night (if you know what I mean).

I walked around the derelict parking lot for about ten minutes snapping the pictures I wanted. On the return trip to my car I espied a small pink object. Ever curious, I reached over and picked it up. The message on the front of the pin brought a smile to my face. Why, yes, I do sometimes feel like I’m capable of magic (or at least capable of experiencing magical moments).

The pin may be a little rough around the edges, yet it retains a positive outlook. This pin and I have much in common!

Groin Groan

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Spotted at Johns Pass, Treasure Island, Florida January 2020

I snapped this photo because the usage of the word groin struck me as odd. Previously, I was only familiar with it anatomically. Turns out groin* has another, rather specialized meaning: beach training structure designed to interrupt the flow of sand. Don’t you just love the idea of training a beach? Sit. Stay. Good beach. As if!

It strikes me as odd, with all the traveling I’ve done and my two plus years of living coastally that this is the first time I’ve encountered this term. After doing my research, I still have a problem with this sign. Technically, a groin is shorter than a jetty and is constructed in a series to protect beachside property from erosion, while a jetty is built to protect a coastal inlet or channel.

Since this structure is on the south side of Johns Pass, helping to keep access to Boca Ciega Bay open to water traffic, it is therefore, a jetty and not a groin. Nevertheless, this sign gave me an opportunity to learn something new.

*Of course, the rest of the world uses a different spelling (which lessens confusion): groyne, from Latin for snout.