Saturday, October 22, 2016

Back in Destin Again

How surprised I was when Dick said were in Destin as recently as 2013. We have traveled to so many places since then, it seems like a much longer time. As we drove around today, many places looked familiar.

Monarch butterflies are still on their way to Mexico, but most of the bright orange butterflies are Gulf fritillaries and some of my favorites. Starting in late summer and continuing through fall, huge numbers of adults migrate southward into peninsular Florida. Adults overwinter in frost-free portions of their range. The Gulf fritillary produces multiple generations each year. Adults may be found in all months of the year throughout much of Florida. Females lay the small yellow eggs singly on or near leaves, stems or tendrils of purple passionflower which the larvae devour upon hatching.

Forster's Tern
Laughing Gull Winter Plumage

Royal Tern
Ruddy Turnstone
Sandwich Tern
The sun was blindingly bright, making it hard to adjust to squinting in the light to looking through a small view scope on the camera, even when shaded by my hat. We saw the gulls and terns I normally expect this time of year in Florida, but no Willets and no Ring-billed Gulls. Hmmm. The Sandwich Terns have obviously been eating mustard with their sandwiches again!

Several Great Blue Herons waded in the clear shallow water below the Ft. Walton Pier. One caught several fish, but moved too quickly for me to catch at it with the camera. Raptors have 14 neck bones, and I wondered how many neck vertebra herons have to stretch and coil their necks. Hidden by skin and neck feathers, the extra bones double back on themselves, giving the resting neck its characteristic “S” shape. They are also the force behind the lethal bill. As expected, the neck bones begin at the back of the great blue’s skull. A short way down the neck, a remarkable thing happens. The neck vertebrae switch places with the trachea and esophagus. The neck bones are now in the front and the vulnerable food and wind pipes are behind them. As the neck gets closer to the body, its internal arrangement returns to a normal configuration with the bones in the back. Couldn't find anything confirming how many bones they have though.

For $2.00 you can walk out on the pier. Only the Yankees, I told Dick, would sit in swim suits on a windy chilly day such as this morning. The local fisher people on the pier were dressed in warm jackets and hats. The local birds know to hang around and someone will throw a fish on the deck eventually. Of course, the pigeons don't care much for fish.

From the pier we saw shapes in the water, and tried to determine what they were. Fish? Jelly fish? Trash? One round dark spot appeared to be swimming, and eventually stuck its head into the air - a turtle! Several other long dark spots swimming along surfaced and we got our first view of dolphins, without paying someone to go out in a boat to look for them!
Pyramid of Giza on the beach
 One beach goer was either a good artist or an Egyptian architect. We found him working on the great pyramid of Giza right here in Ft. Walton Beach.

I'm sure some wave theory in physics explains the water wave and the waves in the sand as well. A website from Scientific American says, "The most accepted explanation is that the flow of the overlying fluid (water or air) interacts with the moving sediment grains in a manner that results in a stable shape, or bedform. The specific shape therefore depends on the density and viscosity of the fluid, its speed above the sand and the nature of the sediment (that is, its characteristic size, shape and density)." I'm just as happy to appreciate them without having to explain how they are formed. Of course, they didn't mention footprints of people walking back to the boardwalk.!

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