JULY MARCHES ON....The rain determined plans for the early part of the week, but those that hung in there were rewarded by a perfect day on Thursday. We had an early morning beach hunt under sunny skies. Though the tide wasn't one of those really low ones, we were able to find most everything under the sun. Of course some animals were hiding out under the moist sand, including some crabs and small snails. Hermit Crabs were abundant and one of our best hunters found a small lobster under a rock. We examined this crustacean and found it complete with all appendages. We watched it walk back to sea, and thanked it for giving us a chance to know these animals better in their growing stages.

Sanddollar Beach was explored the following day under bright sunny skies and calm waters. Probably the most dramatic finds were the long, slithery worms. We were trying to dig out Razor Clams, but came up with these Clam Worms instead. They were highly mobile, equipped with appendages called parapodia all along their bodies. They are capable swimmers and diggers into sand and mud. They are beautifully colored and described as "opalescent green and coppery-brown or red" in color. These animals are dug for bait and may be 8 inches or longer. Kids had no problem handling them, but they do have jaws which they use for food scavenging.

I mentioned the Painted Turtle in my last report that had been hit by a car, breaking its shell. I kept it for a few days to see if it would survive. I kept it well watered and fed it food including hamburger (uncooked) and worms. Finally, I decided I would let nature take its course and return it to the Lily Pond. We let it go and it walked to the water's edge and headed into his water home. Later, I found it had crawled out of the water and was basking in the sun. Hopefully, the injury will heal and the turtle can go on being a turtle.

My last animal adventure involved a bird roadkill. I was heading over to the campground when I spotted a bird in the road. I pulled over and went to see what it was. It was a small hawk that must have been hit by a car. It isn't often you get to see these birds up close so I showed it to interested campers. We determined it to be a Shark-shinned Hawk, one you might have seen diving for the birds at your feeder. They have long, barred, tails and yellow legs. The back is slate gray in color, but the underside is light with rust colored spots. This is one of the Accipiter hawks with characteristic long tails and short wings. They are fast flyers and feed on sparrows and warblers, as well as small rodents and insects.

7/15/09 Ronnie on the move.....