January Days 1/14/2015

Winters here in Florida are much like winters in south Georgia.  We have 2 or 3 cold, wet, cloudy/foggy days, followed by 2 or 3 warm and sunny days.  The main difference is the wind – which pretty much blows constantly.  THAT part reminds me of October on Mackinac Island!

So, while I’ve never liked to walk around in the rain and cold (although we do it twice a day to get Bear and Maddie out of the house – regardless of the weather), when the sun does come out, Ted and I head for the beach!

I've never been much on naming birds, but I'm already getting interested in the shore birds - maybe because I see them everyday, and usually I can get pretty close to them).  Here's where my readers can help out.  The closest thing I can find to this little sweetie in my bird book is a Wilson's Plover (an immature one).

I’ve never been much on naming birds, but I’m already getting interested in the shore birds – maybe because I see them everyday, and usually I can get pretty close to them). Here’s where my readers can help out. The closest thing I can find to this little sweetie in my bird book is a Wilson’s Plover (an immature one).  Anyone know for sure?

Same bird, different angle.

Same bird, different angle.

I've already fallen in love with these beauties - they're Royal Terns.

I’ve already fallen in love with these beauties – they’re Royal Terns.  I love that they look like they have a receding hairline, but I’ve read as summer approaches, the black feathers will cover their entire foreheads.

We came upon this huge flock of gulls and terns and couldn't help but notice the "big daddy" gull in the middle.

We came upon this huge flock of gulls and terns and couldn’t help but notice the “big daddy” gull in the middle.

When Ted scattered them, we could really see how big his wing span was compared to the other birds.

When Ted scattered them, we could really see how big his wing span was compared to the other birds!

As we walked further north, we spotted this gentleman standing just where the waves were coming in.  I wondered what he might be doing, and Ted said, "I think he's catching sand fleas."  Sand fleas?  "Why would you want to catch a flea - sand or otherwise?"  Ted found that very funny.

As we walked further north, we spotted this gentleman standing just where the waves were coming in. I wondered what he might be doing, and Ted said, “I think he’s catching sand fleas.” Sand fleas? “Why would you want to catch a flea – sand or otherwise?” Ted found that very funny.

Well, you know me - I had to see this up close, and thank goodness the fisherman was glad to show me his catch.  These are Sand Fleas!

Well, you know me – I had to see this up close, and thank goodness the fisherman was glad to show me his catch. These are Sand Fleas!

He had a pail full of them to use as bait.  See, you learn something every day!

He had a pail full of them to use as bait. See, you learn something every day!

Here's something else I've learned since moving south.  Every few weeks the landscaper comes through our neighborhood and cuts back the dead fronds from these palm trees.  If they don't do that, the dead and decaying fronds mat together and become nests for rats and snakes!  Now that is something I'd have rather never learned . . . . sure am glad they're making sure they keep them cut back!

Here’s something else I’ve learned since moving south. Every few weeks the landscaper comes through our neighborhood and cuts back the dead fronds from these palm trees. If they don’t do that, the dead and decaying fronds mat together and become nests for rats and snakes! Now that is something I’d have rather never learned . . . . s0 glad they’re making sure they keep them cut back!

I guess this makes it official.  Ted and I both got our Florida's drivers licenses the other day, and Ted got his tag.  I've got to go back after mine because we went in Ted's truck, and they have to visually SEE my VIN number to sell me a tag.

I guess this makes it official. Ted and I both got our Florida’s drivers licenses the other day, and Ted got his tag. I’ve got to go back after mine because we went in Ted’s truck, and they have to visually SEE the VIN number in my vehicle to sell me a tag.  Ted chose the “Panther tag” since we’ve got one in the neighborhood.  I’m thinking about going with a “Save the Manatees” tag.

In keeping with my renewed interest in birds, I couldn't help bringing home this sandpiper sculpture they'd just taken out of the box at one of my new favorite shops - Hammock Gardens.  Because of the color I needed to hang it on a dark wall, so I chose the blue wall in the powder room.  Love it!

In keeping with my renewed interest in birds, I couldn’t help bringing home this sandpiper sculpture they’d just taken out of the box at one of my new favorite shops – Hammock Gardens. Because of the color I needed to hang it on a dark wall, so I chose the blue wall in the powder room. Love it!

A LITTLE MACKINAC

The Lady on the Hill slumbers away in the snow.  (Photo: Patrick Conlon)

The Lady on the Hill slumbers away in the snow. (Photo: Patrick Conlon)

While we’re talking about the Grand Hotel, you might want to click below to learn about the winter construction going on there.  It seems they are working on adding suites at the Cupola level (WOW!) and doing some reconfiguring of the Tea Garden.  http://www.grandhotel.com/winter-construction-update  Good stuff!

This is what the island looked like from above today - pretty darn icy! (Photo: Bryce Tracy)

This is what the island looked like from above today – pretty darn icy! (Photo: Bryce Tracy)

RUBY JANE

Since moving to Florida we’ve become much closer not only to our perfect grandchildren – Jordan and Matthew – but also our granddog, Ruby (better known as Ruby Jane to her closest fans).

Jordan and Matthew celebrating Ruby's 2nd birthday in December.

Jordan and Matthew – celebrating Ruby’s 2nd birthday in December.

Ruby is a Boykin Spaniel, and birds are her passion.  We first met Ruby when she was a puppy and belonged to Matt’s (our son-in-law) parents, Jack and Carolyn, who live about half-way between our house and Julie and Matt’s.  They purchased Ruby from a breeder in Alaska, with the express purpose of turning her into a duck hunting dog.  Ruby arrived full of enough energy to power the lights in New York, LA, and Atlanta – all at once.  After a year, Jack and Carolyn knew they just couldn’t keep up with this little dynamo and agreed to let Matt, Julie, Jordan and Matthew adopt her (with full visiting rights, of course).

With lots of training (Ruby has been known to literally jump up and pick a low-flying bird right out of the air), she went on her first “real” hunt a weekend or so ago.

At first, she was a little taken aback when all the guns started firing at once.  She's sitting here with John, Matt's brother - who is a dog trainer.

At first, she was a little taken aback when all the guns started firing at once. She’s sitting here with John, Matt’s brother – who is a dog trainer.

The next morning John brought in his own dog, Nitschki, to mentor Ruby.

The next morning John brought in his own dog, Nitschki, to mentor Ruby.

And - after watching Nitschki retrieve duck after duck . . .

And – after watching Nitschki retrieve duck after duck . . .

. . . little Ruby Jane brought in her first duck!

. . . little Ruby brought in her first duck!  This photo was featured on Instagram’s #Boykinsofig!

Matt said you could just see the light go on in her eyes when she figured out exactly what her job was.  She was excited!

Way to go Ruby Jane!

Hope everyone is staying warm and dry and well!  See y’all back here on Sunday!

God bless.

11 thoughts on “January Days 1/14/2015

  1. Love all the birds, especially the Royal Terns. They are beautiful. It’s very interesting learning about Florida life. I will never experience it in person, so who better to tell me about it thanYou! Thank you! I love the sandpiper sculpture. Looks great with that wall color.

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  2. Love the bird pics. What kind of fish goes for sand fleas?

    Ruby is a beautiful dog! I find my dogs are much happier when I work them and they have a job. Is John hunting with a bow? I’m an archery instructor with our homeschool group, and I’ve gotten bit by the archery bug (thank goodness it’s not a sand flea!). I didn’t know you could hunt ducks with a bow. I’ll have to challenge my husband next time he goes hunting. 🙂

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    • MJ, I did some sand flea research and found they are loved especially by pompano, redfish and sheepshead.
      I talked to Matt and discovered that bow hunting duck is quite popular. That was Matt’s cousin in the pic, and he also quail hunts with a bow. He’s gotten lots of quail that way, but is still trying for his first duck. It has to take a heck of a lot of skill!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Arch loves to fish for redfish. (I love to eat them!) He knew what the sand fleas were (must be a fisherman thing).

        And he busted out laughing when I told him he should try quail and duck hunting with a bow! He said it’s hard enough to hit them with a shotgun shell!

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  3. As always love reading your blog. i have never seen Sand Fleas until now. They r so big! Love your Bird Sculpture, great place for it too! Give Ted my love! Oh Bear and Mattie too.

    Liked by 1 person

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