Sepia Scenes Dogging Boats

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My camera was really dirty…multiple spots on the sensor and probably enough dirt and dust inside to make a sandcastle.  Unfortunately, I took it to Best Buy, who ships it off for cleaning, but at least it was ‘covered’.  About a week has passed, about another week to week and a half to go…I’m not sure I can make it!!!

Here are some semi-recent photos from around the lowcountry:

Click to Enlarge All Photos

Maybe one of the most news-covered cruise ships of all time, the Mercury finally made it out of Charleston Harbor today! This picture was taken around February 15th before it’s first voyage.  It went out three seperate times only to return with a legion of norovirus-striken vacationers. Here’s an article from today about the ship: Cruise Ship Finally Kicks Norovirus

This is one of the competitors of the Dock Dogs competition held during the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition held in Charleston in February.  Most of the dogs seem to love the jumping, but there were a couple that passed on the splash.  Dogs compete based on distance jumped, how fast they can make it to the other end of the pool, and height, with each category requiring a different jump. Below is the color version that I can resist posting.

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Scenic Sunday Fortified

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This is the place where I volunteer.  The three-deck ferry docked there is named the Spirit of Carolina usually runs off the Patriot’s Point side of the harbor.  The place is none other than Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the “Late Unpleasantness” [Civil War] were fired.  The fort was held for 34 hours by the Union until a fire broke out in the fort and caused Major Anderson to surrender due to too few men to fight the fire and work the cannons.

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Scenic Sunday Sunset

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Not to complain, because how can you complain while living on the coast, but I seem to never catch a good, cloud-infused sunset around here!  I’ve seen two, and both have been while I was in a car going somewhere.  I’m hoping since severe weather season started this month here in SC that there will a few more cumulus in the mix. 

Right now, the skies are filled with smoke from controlled burns. Here’s a smoky sunset for your enjoyment!

Sunset through the Grasses

Sun and Smoke

Sun lighting up the seedheads [needs to be enlarged; click on it!]

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Sepia Scenes: Salt Pruning and Shell-smashing Seagulls

Today’s post will be a potpourri of seaside related scenes with a tinge of sepia to give it that rustic look. :)

Salt Pruning

First off is the sodium-filled topic of salt pruning. 

Salt pruning occurs when ocean spray is blown onto the vegetation at the ocean side of the backbeach area.  The constant inundation of saline mist stungs the growth of the plants and makes them look like they’ve been pruned into wedge shapes, with the shorter side towards the ocean.  The photo above was taken from behind the wedges and the ocean isbehind the vegetation row. 

The above picture, and the one below, were taken at Fort Moultrie.

Shell-smashing Gulls

On to the gulls.  Although this behaviour is well-documented and nothing new to those who live on the coast, if you haven’t frequented beaches, you might find this behavior new and maybe a little surprising. 

Generally called shell cracking, many species of gulls engage in this behavoir, on both coasts and probably elsewhere around the world. 

The article, The Developement of Shell-cracking Behavior in Herring Gulls, [PDF] observes that first year gulls don’t have the hang of shell cracking and the technique, such as height the shell is dropped from and the surface on which it’s dropped are eventually learned and perfected so that the birds don’t have to make as many drops.

While watching the birds yesterday on the south end of Folly Beach, we saw some that just sat on the ground and dropped the shell from that height a couple times, and others that flew several dozens of feet into the air to drop their snacks.  The only problem with going so high and dropping seemed to be that other gulls had a better chance at getting a free meal.  Maybe that explains the reluctance at times to let the food fall? A couple of gulls were seen grabbing their food midair and re-releasing, sometimes repeating the process a couple times in one flight.  One herring gull, perhaps angry at a ‘flock-member’ dropped a shell right on the other gull’s back!

Trying to keep up with the falling morsel

Coming down to get the hard earned tidbit

Sometimes, it’s really hard to let your food get too far ahead of you

Falling with lunch

The gull’s food hit the water.  Wonder if that’s a harder surface than sand?

If you don’t stay with your food, it won’t stay with you

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Sepia Scenes of Snow in South Carolina!

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It snowed here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina–something that happens about once every ten years.  Though this wasn’t a record snowfall, it was enough to break plenty of branches. 

This is looking over a salt marsh towards the Ben Sawyer Bridge [under construction, hence all the lights].  I guess they worked on that bridge even while it snowed.

This is the old bridge that went to Sullivan’s Island.  Everything was plastered with snow and a little ice.  The wind didn’t help with long exposures, seemingly blowing only after I pressed the remote shutter release…

Palm trees don’t do well with snow. In fact, they look silly in the snow.  This was taken at 3:30 in the morning; luckily, no one was awake so there was no traffic and I could stand in the middle of the slushy road without worry.

I would have loved to get into downtown Charleston for some snow pictures, but there’s a large bridge in the way.

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Endless Edisto Beach State Park

Lots to Do, Lots to See, So Little Time!

Sunset on Edisto Island

Wow, there is literally something to do for everyone on Edisto Island [pronounced ED’i-stoe, not that I’m successful at saying it that way]! From fishing to biking, hiking, birdwatching, camping, shell hunting, seasonal hunting, to planation touring and sea turtle watching, there’s something for everyone at any time of year. 

The name Edisto started with the Edistow tribe of native americans that were the first recorded to inhabit the island.  The island is now home to many rental beach houses, restaurants and shops, a serpentarium, museums, planations, Edisto Beach State Park, and Botany Bay Planation Wildlife Management Area.

View of the Salt Marsh near the Campground

Getting There

Edisto Island is about an hour southwest of Charleston.  It took us about an hour and forty minutes on Highway 17 because of traffic and two accidents, but it’s an hour conceivably.  The drive is beautiful in that classic old southern road lined with live oak and spanish moss–just gorgeous, but be careful on State Highway 174; there is a lip on both sides that will pull your tires and there is no shoulder.  The live oaks hang over the road, which could be a little scary for anyone hauling a rig or in a motorhome.

A Large Oak

Some Islandlife Highlights

There is the Edisto Beach Loggerhead Turtle Project that relies on volunteers to monitor and locate sea turtle nests.  Stay off any dunes marked as turtle nesting grounds and report any sea turtle you see to the appropriate number [look for posts in that area saying what numbers to call].  We’re excited to sign up for the night Loggerhead Sea Turtle Walks in the summer, held by the State Park.  Should be a fun time!

The Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society holds annual tours in October of the privately owned, hard to find planations that remain from the ‘sea island cotton’ boom back in the 1700 and 1800s.  These plantations aren’t visible from the road and aren’t open to the public other than during the tour.

The State Park

It takes a little bit of map gazing before you get the lay out of the park.  If you are a little lost, head to the Environment Education Center first.  The very helpful staff, who happen to wear uniforms very similiar to those of the national park rangers, will be there to answer your questions [9am to 4pm in the offseason].  The Education Center is full of nicely done exhibits [though some were out of working order], a touch tank, live sea creatures in tanks and a short little film about the ecologically important ACE basin.  The Education Center is a green building, and it’s also painted green, with each green feature numbered. 

There is a ton of camping available [91 sites, I believe], but I’m sure it fills fast!  You can have a marsh view, a sand dune view, a beach site, or be in some palmettos [by the way, some of the tallest in the state are found there!].

Hiking

Walking about the Trail

For a description of the trails, plus directions and camping reservation info, click Here.

My husband and I took all the trails, and although relatively small, there is plenty of walking to do and plenty to look at!  The shell midden called Spanish Mount, was neat to see, being 4000 years old and held up by the decking!  We saw at least three different types of woodpeckers, a hermit thrush, bluebirds, ibises and chickadees.  I’ve been on the lookout for anoles, but haven’t spotted any yet, though I did find some small skinks in the pine straw along the trails.  Once it warms up, I’m sure you’ll be able to spot more wildlife, including a few alligators! 

Whelks from the Midden

Two Overwintering Bluebirds

A Hermit Thrush

Two Fiddler Crabs, One Male, One Female

My husband took a nice video of the Fiddler crabs; I might try to get that on here soon.  It is interesting to watch the foraging difference between the male and female.  The female Fiddler is at an obvious advantage because she can pick through the sediment with both little claws.  The male, on the other hand [or claw], can’t do so because of the one enlarged claw that serves for defending territory and jousting. 

Shelling

Whelk on the Beach

Good heavens I have never seen so many shells in my life! What the stars are in the sky, the shells are on the beach, it seems.  It was heaven for my husband, who is a 5 year old shell stomper in disguise, and it was heaven for me, since finding a nice whelk that was over 5 inches was pretty simple there!  We found 4!  Plan your visit right after high tide for good shells, but there will always be shells there.  And if you could, throw back the live ones! It’s hard to stay off the beach if you don’t have any legs.  I’d love to know why there are indeed so many, but a little more research is required on my part.  I’ll let you know!

A Live Knobbed Whelk

Shell-covered Beach

For more information, visit the Edisto Chamber of Commerce website, full of usefull information that helped fill this blog!

Another great resource: www.edistoisland.com From Fishing to Reality to Weddings, the site offers lots of information!

Watching a Beautiful Sunset