Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lonely Beaches and Enormous Birds of Prey

We hit two state parks yesterday. Big Lagoon and Perdido Key. These parks are, by road, about five miles apart. As the crow flies, they're much closer. We hit Big Lagoon first and had a cookout. The weather was overcast and a little cool (low 70s). We hiked around the park and enjoyed our grilled hot dogs. Then I went for another short hike and we packed up and headed off to Perdido Key State Park.

I'm not sure what this was. A piece of a truly huge sand dollar? Or part of the carapace of a sea turtle? It was nice to look at--the amazing traceries of lines and holes.

I was crouched down to take a closeup of a wildflower as I was hiking through Big Lagoon park. As I was taking a photo of the flower I heard the really disturbing sound of very large wings flapping as something came to rest behind me. So I stood up and looked into the dead pine in the trail in front of me. On the top of the snag was an enormous osprey. It was checking me out. Probably because I had hiked very close to the tree that held its nest.

This is the nest tree. Keep in mind that the nest is so large that I could probably have lay prone on the top of it and been invisible to anyone standing at the foot of the tree. Ospreys make truly huge nests.

It's true! We had several miles of pure sugar-white sand beach all to ourselves for several hours!

When I was a kid I first visited this area with my dad and my cousin Gene Hodges. The first thing that I realized as I ran down to the emerald water (so different from the brown, detritus-clouded ocean water of my native Atlantic coast) was that the sand sang as you ran along. The grains are obviously of a different nature than the sand where I grew up and they literally squeak as your feet hit the beach.

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