Posted by: shariglass | March 30, 2010

Tigertail Beach

Today was one of those really awesome days when you think living in Florida might just be worth it (at least for a little while)!  The homeschool co-op that we belong to has been studying birds this past spring.  And as I’ve mentioned before, the kids have really gotten into birding.  Today we met several of the families from our co-op at Tigertail Beach in Marco Island (Marco is just south of Naples).

The day started out bright and early for us.  I got up at 5:45 and kids were up by 6:15 as we had to leave around 7 AM in order to make the hour+ drive South. (I don’t usually even get up until after 7!) After another day of rain yesterday, today dawned clear and bright and rather cool, with the highs only suppose to get around 70.

We were treated to a bird/nature walk along the lagoon of Tigertail beach by a volunteer naturalist from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.  We learned a little bit about Tigertail beach, how it had changed over the years and some things we might see.  Tigertail beach actually sits on a little lagoon, that you have to cross or go around in order to get to the Gulf.  We learned about some of the different plants in the area, including red, white and black mangroves.  We saw live lightening welk shells, and a couple other live shells as well.  The highlight for the younger boys had to be the worm egg sacs, that looked (and I assume felt) like slime balls.  The other big hit was the worm fecal casts (i.e. worm poop).  When we first got there the tide was very low, so we could see lots of good stuff!

The birds were great too.  We saw an osprey couple with a baby in the nest.  A snow egret, with his bright orange feet, joined our walk and followed right along with us.  There were lots of brown pelicans swooping over the water, diving for fish.  Black-bellied plover’s whose bellies were white – not black, the ever present sea gulls, and a group of white ibis.

After some hunting, our guide, and several of the boys found fiddler crabs.  Later on we found two rather large horseshoe crabs, and one baby horseshoe crab.

Our tour took us just along the edge of the lagoon, but the other side and the Gulf was calling.   So we hiked up our pants, and waded across.  Remember, the tide was out.  I don’t think the water ever got up to my knees.  It was chilly, but not freezing.  I must have looked quite the sight with camera over one shoulder, binoculars on the other, and Sarah in a front pack!   We all made it without anyone falling in (the sand was more like mud, and slippery, mushy, muck) and spent an enjoyable bit on the gulf.  It was a windy day, so there were some real waves for a change.  As we were sitting over there we suddenly realized the waves were starting to reach  considerably higher, and remembering we had to cross back over the lagoon, we decided to head back.

Sure enough the water had risen.  While definitely still crossable, we were going to get a little wetter!  By this time Sarah was sound asleep too, so I was carrying her, while several kind ladies carried the rest of my stuff.  We decided to hunt for a more shallow area to cross, and the only thing we found was a more mucky area to cross.  While I was waiting for Hannah at one point something moved under my foot.  That was NOT my favorite moment.   The water went a little above my knees this time, so it really wasn’t that bad!

All in all it was a grand adventure and educational too!  The kids are already asking when our next field trip will be!

Hannah, our resident photographer/videographer, was busy with her camera and took lots of clips while we were there.  When we got home she and Brian put them together into a video.  I think the titled it “Creatures at the beach”.  We hope you enjoy a little bit of our day!

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