Scenic Sunday Middleton Place Benches

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These two benches can be found in the lovely azalea- and camellia-filled gardens of the Middleton Place Plantation. Started in the mid 1700s, the well-planned gardens on the Ashley River, 16 miles northwest of Charleston on Highway 61, recall an extraordinary history of residents and events, from colonial times to the modern day. Very much worth a day’s visit.

Dogwoods in Bloom along a Reflection Pool

A Bench outside the Restaurant

 

Scenic Sunday: Living Beach

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You’ll be glad you did!

Beaches are beautiful places, that usually goes without saying, but when you sit on the beach, you aren’t alone, even if you see no other being in sight!

The beach is teeming with interstitial microorganisms, little microscopic creatures that call home the space found between sand particles. But you don’t need a microscope to see other inhabitants that often go unnoticed for there are many just below your feet and the waves!

This little fellow below is called the Sea Pansy, although to me it looks like just one petal from a pansy or more like a leaf.  Hard to believe, but it’s related to corals and anemones with its closest relative being the sea pen.  Like coral, it is a colony, a whole colony, of polyps. These creatures are bag-shaped generally with one end open and the other attached to a surface [think of an anemone, a single bag-shaped polyp attached to the surface at one end and open with tentacles at the other].

The Sea Pansy, being a whole community working together as one, has a number of different polyps doing different jobs.  The ‘stem’ or what anchors the Pansy down is actually one long polyp. Within the body are a bunch of little polyps with some that do resemble their larger cousin the anemone in shape, with tentacles that protrude from the face of the Pansy and filter particles of food. Unlike the garden variety, this Pansy doesn’t sit upright, but lies flat on the sand.

The *coolest* part is that these seemingly lifeless blobs of goo are bioluminescent! If you can find it at night, poke it! It will light up [kind of like a lightning bug]!! Look for these guys in the swash.

Another neat creature is the Commensal Crab. These small crabs, usually less than an inch or two, live commensally with other creatures. One well known crab is the Oyster Pea Crab; the smallest in this area is the Sand Dollar Crab. The names of these two indicate where these guys prefer to live.  There are also species that like to live with scallops, tube worms, etc. and all appear quite similar, so apologies for not knowing who this fellow is below! I think he’d rather not be on that shell anyway…gives you reason to pause before stepping on or driving over shells!

These are carapaces, the shell on the back of a crab. I would have liked to find the whole crab alive, but these fellows live offshore and are dubbed the swimming crabs because of their paddle-shaped back legs and their method of motion.

The one above is the Ocellated Lady Crab and the one below, as distinct as it is, I can’t find the name for, do you know???

I’m thinking some kind of box crab…

This neat thing is a Moon Snail sand collar, or an egg case.  There are little tiny eggs sandwiched between sand particles. When wet, the thing is gooey and flexible; when dry, it crumbles like dry sand.

Hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed researching it! Thank you for visiting!

Sources and Recommended Reading:

Ruppert, Edward E., and Richard S. Fox. Seashore Animals of the Southeast: a Guide to Common Shallow-water Invertebrates of the Southeastern Atlantic Coast. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina, 1988. Print.

Hayes, Miles O., and Jacqueline Michel. A Coast for All Seasons: a Naturalist’s Guide to the Coast of South Carolina. Columbia, S.C.: Pandion, 2008. Print.

Beach Scenic Sunday

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Wow, time flies! I missed Sepia Scenes this week and somehow it’s already Sunday!

Have you ever wondered what’s under your feet when you walk on the beach? Beside the sand, of course! I guess there is a whole mirco-world down there, just waiting for you to take a peek.  And there are the things you can see easily, as well, if you just dig some. Lots of beach worms are below your feet, as well as whelks and 5 hole key-holed urchins [live sanddollars!] and ghostshrimp and crabs.  When the weather warms and my fingers won’t freeze, I’ll start digging, but for right now, I’m going to settle with what’s above the sand.

Folly Beach is a good place to collect fossilized shark teeth! Here’s an odd fact: fossils will stick to your tongue, rocks will not. Best way to get a laugh out of a group of kids is to demonstrate this!

More Folly Beach

Maybe a periscope worm tube? No one was home since it was detached from the sand.

HUGE horseshoe crab! Probably was a female by the sheer size of it.  I don’t have small feet, by the way, those are size 8 shoes!

Someone is home in this whelk, so back to the ocean it went. Maybe it was trying to deposit the 50 beach cents at the bank?

A nice place to sit on the Isle of Palms and it seems the mockingbird agrees! The mockingbirds seem a little quiet and lethargic this time of year.

By the way, if you ever want a really good, in-depth book on South Carolina’s coast, try “A Coast for All Seasons: A Naturalist’s Guide to the Coast of South Carolina” by Hayes and Michel.

Scenic Sunday IOP Style

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Hello All!  Missed last week, catching up this week. 

Have you ever seen those black and white oval place stickers, the ones with abbreviations for famous, or not so famous, places?  I guess they started out as “International Country Codes”, like ES for Spain, etc, but they’ve of course spread all over the United States. 

Famous ones like OBX for the Outer Banks and HHI for Hilton Head Island can be seen on the backs of many cars, but around here I’ve seen IOP.  IOP? I thought? ‘International Oceanic Paradise’ is the best I could come up with at first.  I was off.  Isle of Palms sounds like a road name, but it’s an actual island with palms strategically planted along all the roadsides.  It’s considered the “college” beach hotspot, so we’ve been trying to get our time in on it now before Spring Break comes around. 

Here are some scenic IOP sights for you, without all the party goers!

Someone’s lost feather.  I hope they aren’t missing it too much!

An osprey looking for fish…or his feather!

Love, in Isle of Palms Fashion [aka what my bored husband does while I take a picture of a seagull]

The ‘Magic Hour’ of Light on the Sand

Sunset on the south end of IOP

Thanks for visiting and thanks for the fantastic comments you all left previously! I need to be better about responding to those.

Daniel Island

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I think the Lowcountry of South Carolina is probably one of the greatest places for anything Halloween in the country.  Really old live oaks decorated with ghostly spanish moss loom over centuries old cemetaries. 

This was down a little trail on Daniel Island.  The monument is dedicated to one person, but there are others around.

Moved because of the Expressway

I think it’s amazing to see what would have been a very expensive gravemarker for the day [nicely carved marble] sitting in the middle of the woods, on the ground, with no visitors.  Well, I’m sure someone visits, but it’s funny to think of all the time, effort, thought, and skill put into gravestones.  I feel like they are undervalued or overlooked often.  It’s a good place to pause and think about your life, your impending death, and what this person’s life might have been like.  A good mediation on predecesors.

Not sure I would have wanted to live on this big island by myself like some of these folks did.  I think I’d be lonely.

Even this little guy is a little spooky!  :)

Thanks for visiting!

Scenic Sunday Hunting Island

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Hunting Island State Park is about 13 miles east of Beaufort, SC and has the only lighthouse in the state open to the public [which I didn't know, so I didn't go in, oops!].

We strolled down the trail and found this fellow having his lunch.

We also walked along the marshwalk.  On the state park’s website, they say that the Vietnam swamp scenes in Forrest Gump were filmed near by. 

We also walked down the fishing pier.  There are interpretive signs along the way that relate interesting facts about the ecosystem that surrounds you.  At the end of the pier we spotted this bufflehead with his mate.  She was taking her time, so she didn’t make it in this picture.

Hunting Island is a beautiful barrier island that has lush forests, and during the warm months, offers a good chance to see alligators [not unlike the rest of South Carolina!].  But because it’s a barrier island, it won’t remain unchanged, and the next large hurricane could wipe it clean.

This is on the north end of the island, where erosion typically occurs on barrier islands.

Alright, that was a lot of pictures!  Thanks for making it through and visiting!