All the others had actually seen the sun rise that morning at about 5:40 a.m. AT THE BEACH and they have pictures to prove it! Took the wind right out of my sails. Some had been counting birds for hours by that time. Now, who in their right mind gets up early enough to drive 30 miles and pay a $4 toll (one way) and STILL get to the beach in time to take pictures of a sunrise at 5:40 a.m.?????? I told them we were all totally nuts to be out there in that heat anyway, and they truly agreed. By the time we decided to call it a day around 10:45 a.m., it was about 92 degrees and, I swear, the humidity had to be 75% giving us a heat index of well over 100. It was brutal. Frankly, I think that wasn't the only time somebody had been out in the hot sun too long!!!! Brains got fried somewhere along the way, don't you think? Oh well, I guess we all have our foibles, and yes, I've done equally insane things before and hopefully will do them again. :)
Shore and water birds are a big mystery to me. I am a total neophyte when it comes to their identification and I got busy trying to see all the ones that were being pointed out and didn't take pictures much at all. The only bird I got was a juvenile great blue (I think) and he obliged by just standing still for a while.
You should see the pictures the other two girls took, though. WOW doesn't even begin to cover it. I've got to hang out more with those two and maybe they can teach me a trick or ten!!
We did see thousands of black terns on the island, however. They've finished their breeding and are gathering along the coast before making the long overwater journey to their winter grounds. Some do stay here along the coast all winter. There seemed to be lots of brown pelicans, too. We saw a Great Ibis, great blue heron, green heron, tri-color heron and a reddish heron. Saw an osprey in the distance. The first belted kingfisher of the season was spotted sailing by. We have them regularly in the winter but I hadn't seen one since spring. Oh, and the black bellied plovers were beautiful. I may have seen them before, but it didn't register in my pea brain.
When we got over to Opal Beach on the sound side, we were at first appalled to see little round balls floating on the water and washed up in a line along the shore. After picking some of them up, we immediately thought "oil". The BP crews were actually working along the gulf side beach very near to where we were. Our leader and I jumped in the car and sped back to the staging area and were lucky enough to find a supervisor with time to come check the siting. Good thing. Turns out that the little round balls were some kind of vegetation. They've been seeing them for weeks. We were SO GLAD!!! Oil has not been spotted in the sound this far from the gulf outlets and it would have been a tragic occurrence had it indeed been tar balls.
You can see why we all had our hearts in our throats when we first saw this stuff!!
I found out from one of the girls that our county offers a master naturalist certification and I'm going to pursue that. I'd done some checking but the sources I'd seen did not list our county. Glad I was wrong on that one.
During the summer, I spend way too much time inside. Here in Florida it gets very hot and humid and it totally does me in. Folks who work out in it say that it gets easier, and you get somewhat used to it, but I don't believe it. I think they do it because they have to and, given a choice, they'd be inside with me!! That's exactly why we normally take off for the summer and miss all this lovely weather. I'd much rather head out in the cold than try to brave this heat. Okay, I'll hush up my whining -- at least for the moment.
Now, a bit of good news. One of Hubby's medical issues can be dealt with surgically and is scheduled for mid-September. Once the healing has taken place, his quality of life should improve tremendously and, hence, mine by extension. Today was a very good day after hearing that news. I'm not ready to give up my wandering about the country, and perhaps the globe, but it couldn't happen until this issue was addressed.
Y'all take care.