Share a smile by Barbara Edwards

I’m on St George Island in the Gulf, a lovely place on the great migratorySt George island 2014 005 bird route. I wake every morning to a hundred different bird calls and wish I knew more about the birds making them.
There is a section of the dunes where the ‘bird’ people rope off the already forbidden area. Birds nest on the ground here.

St George island 2014 002
bird crossing sign

This is already a 15 mile per hour area, but who wouldn’t want to be extra cautious–

These flightless birds are on the endangered list and need protection to survive.

Despite the lower than average temperatures and 20 to 30 mile per hour winds over the past month. the blue herons have set-up  housekeeping in the fresh-water ponds.

I counted six nests this morning. I think it must be a record of some kind. The birds fly to the slash pine area, pluck up dry twigs and build their nest. They are so graceful I could watch for hours.St George island 2014 020





A squirrel drove me nuts by Barbara Edwards

Re-enactment camping

I love camping and have since the first time I went as a Girl Scout. There’s a freedom to being in in the outdoors that can’t be matched. I’ve camped in a hurricane while hiking the Appalachian Trail, been snowed in by a blizzard in Connecticut and dry camped in National Parks. Every experience was special and lead to more stories than I have time to tell.

I have a routine. We set-up the camper, then make the campsite comfortable. A screened room sometimes is necessary to escape the bugs. Definitely need folding chairs and fire Imagewood to enjoy the evenings under the stars.

So we come to this story. Next it’s time to arrange the picnic table so it’s easy to use. I have a plastic tablecloth that covers the entire surface. It’s easy to keep clean and I clip the corners down to beat the wind. This time I noticed the clips must have slipped because the corner had been torn ragged. I adjusted them and told my husband we’d need to buy a replacement.

The next morning the other corners were shredded. We exchanged puzzled glances. Maybe the raccoons? The dog would have barked, wouldn’t she?Image

We watched for a week as pieces of the tablecloth disappeared. It looked really the worst for wear, but I wasn’t ready to get another until I knew what was happening.

I noticed a squirrel sitting on a nearby pole late this afternoon. He eyed my table with longing, looked around then hopped over.

Within seconds he’d flipped the cloth up and was removing the soft flannel lining with his teeth. I’m using the universal ‘he’ since I don’t know if this was the mommy squirrel or the Imagedaddy. My husband grabbed the camera and took pictures through the screen door.

Looks like I’m not getting another tablecloth until the squirrel nesting season ends.


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Back on Saint George Island by Barbara Edwards

Blue HeronAlthough we are also  back, I mean the Blue Herons are here. Their rookery was destroyed by last summer’s storms and I’ve been waiting to see if they would rebuild.  The Rangers told me the fresh-water ponds were low because it hadn’t rained for six months. Until we arrived that it. Two inches of rain fell as a precursor to the snow storm up North.

This morning I saw a Blue Heron carrying  a large twig in its beak. It circled gracefully before landing on a branch high in a tree. I could barely make out the pile of branches it was forming into a nest. Nice to know nature has a way of overcoming problems. I’ve counted six birds early in the morning when I walk Dixie.

I also learned the reason they encourage cleaning up after your dog is because the smell will frighten away the wild birds. I’m glad I was already being a good camper.

The island is on the migratory route for hundreds of species of birds and sometimes the noise from them is deafening. I’m not a bird expert but I love to see them.  A number of campers are also birdwatchers. I have the Audubon Bird Book so when I get a good look I can identify them.

I did recognize a Bald Eagle circling overhead. He’s nesting on the other side of the bay.

Last fall the Rangers finally had a chance to do a controlled burn out here. The brush was so thick it was a definite fire hazard, but everything has to be right. I wondered if the blackened tree trunk and scorched ground would recover. Controlled burn on Saint George Island

To my delight, ferns and other plants have poked green up along the paths.

The birds have found scorched pine cones to pick at and lots of bugs. Did you know many pines need to have the cones burned before they will sprout?

The biggest change is along the beach. Although the hurricane was considered mild it did a tremendous amount of change. In places the beach  is narrower. The dunes closest to the water were resculpted or removed.  The area where I saw the turtle eggs is almost flat.

The dunes were scraped free of vegetation on the windward side and some dunes IMG_0003further from the beach are higher.

Not too many shells are washed up whole since the bottom has changed, but I love to walk the beach. The water is warm enough to wade. The wind blows the sand and whips a foamy froth on the waves. The sun feels like a blessing. My writing is going well as I relax into that wonderful Southern mode.

I’m so glad to be back.

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