Friday, November 23, 2012

Sanibel Sightings: Recent Revelations of Sanibel Wild Life

In a fairly recent post we wrote about the great number of birds that reside on Sanibel or find it a beautiful and handy place to stay while on their migratory path. 
It is a joy to sight our fine feathered friends, and engaging enough not to look at the numerous creatures that inhabit Sanibel.
But there are so many, many critters that not only fly from perch to perch, but that walk, scamper, crawl, swim and slither through our tropical island.
In recent weeks, there have been some delightful discoveries.
One of these was the sighting of a coyote.  Although this beautiful creature had been sighted initially in January of 2011, the recent sighting was also a rarity. Coyotes are very shy, perhaps even more difficult to see than our bobcats. The name coyote is one of very few words that have come to us from the Aztec language. The Aztec name for this adaptive and intelligent member of the Canidae family was coyotl, meaning God's dog. We love every kind of dog on Sanibel!
Perhaps not as cuddly in appearance, the island watchers were also excited by the recent appearance of an Eastern Indigo snake.  The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation announced that its Pine Island Sound Eastern Indigo Snake Project has documented the first eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) from Captiva Island since 1988.

This rare Florida reptile was thought to be extirpated from Captiva Island. This snake was found at South Seas Resort by a contractor from RS Walsh landscaping, and a South Seas grounds employee on Sept. 20. The snake was safely released back on Captiva.
Though the rare Sanibel rice rat hadn't been seen in three years on the island, researchers there say they've just spotted the animal twice in two days! Each fall, the team at the Ding Darling uses traps in an effort to find the rat, which is native to and only found on Sanibel Island.
Wildlife biologist Tara Wertz, Ding Darling, says they helps to keep the environment balanced. She says the fact that two have been found is a good sign for wildlife on the island.
"We're all scratching our heads going, ‘OK, so many years and we haven't seen any. What's going on?'" she said. "Anything's exciting when you haven't seen it for a while."
She says the Sanibel rice rat is small, does not carry diseases and many people say it's cuter than other varieties of rats.
But if the striking indigo snake, coy coyote and little rice rat allude your sense of beauty, things are looking up these days, and so should you.
Doing their best imitation of falling autumn leaves, the Gulf Fritillary butterfly is visiting again. The Gulf Fritillary or Passion Butterfly, Agraulis vanillae, is a striking, bright orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae. These were formerly classified in a separate family, the Heliconiidae or longwing butterflies, and like other longwings this species does have long, rather narrow wings in comparison with other butterflies. It is not closely related to the true fritillaries. It is a medium to large butterfly, with a wingspan of 6–9.5 cm (2.4–3.7 in). Its underwings are buff, with large silvery spots. It takes its name from migrating flights of the butterflies sometimes seen over the Gulf of Mexico.
Any day in any season, Sanibel is a plethora of pleasant sightings!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why We Love "Winter" on Sanibel

Today is, November 16, just a few days before Thanksgiving.

Although the weather has been great til now, the gray skies and cool temperature (66 degrees on the Island), are harbingers of things to come.

This is a winter day, in our humble opinion, though most winter days are much sunnier and brighter and even a bit warmer.

But it's close enough to delight us with some of the pleasures on the road ahead.

For one, the cooler climes are cozier.  Visions of restaurants brimming with people, clattering with conversation, and sending wafts of indescribably tempting aromas come to mind.  Some of our favorite winter delights are the Lobster and Corn Chowder soup from Cips and the spicy Yucatan Shrimp from Doc Fords.  All those spices, all those flavors, all those delicious aromas.  Our stomach is growling at the mere thought.

And then there are the enticing smells coming from Bailey's Coffee Bar and Sanibel Beans.  Let's be honest.  A great cuppa is totally enhanced in winter weather, even the mild and moderate winter weather of Sanibel.  And the Island has several beckoning coffee shops with a wide array of coffees,cappuchinos, lattes, mochas at your disposal.

But let's not get too caught up with what's to eat and drink.

There are many other delights to be found on Sanibel as the both the temps and the sun go down.  As we have posted before, the cultural menu is as varied and inviting as the food menu.  Theatre, lectures, music and movies are among the selections all winter long.  You could, if you so chose to, do something different every night of the week, as there is coordination among the cultural venues to avoid too much competition on the same night.

Not a night person?

Then consider this.  If you find bicycling too demanding in the hot sun, you will love the gentle, cooler breezes here from December through April.  Sanibel's high season allows you and your family to bike the Island very easily, no sweat!  Tennis?  Again, the courts will not wear out your patience with the pounding heat.  You can stay and play all day!  Kayaking and canoeing?  It's just you and nature, but the biting bugs are not invited. 

Now, we don't want to over promise with all of this.  You can get some hot days in winter, you can find a bug or two during twilight hours, and with so many people vacationing on Sanibel in winter, you may have to schedule your tennis court time in advance.  Spontaneity works much better off season.

But we can pretty much guarantee that you will find at least some of these cooler weather opportunities very special, and very different than what the summer and even late Spring or early Fall months hold.  Oh, don't take our word for it.  Make your winter season plans now and see for yourselves!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Overloaded with Sanibel Shells? Some Ideas for you!

We see it time and again with our rental guests, our friends on Sanibel and some times, we too, err on the side of abundance.

The number and variety of beautiful, collectible sea shells on Sanibel begs each and every one of us to do the Sanibel stoop picking up the best of the best and taking them home.  Some of our guests, especially those who fly in, realize the error of their ways and either put the shells back or wrap them up carefully and ship them home.

But even at home, the question nags: What in the world am I going to do with all these shells?  Sure, you can fill up vases, use them as paper weights, clean and shellac the nicest ones to use with table settings, but let's be honest.  You have way more shells than that, don't you.  So the question still remains.

Well, we have the answer for you!

And more than provide the answer, we are going to provide special links where you can get more details.

In a word, it's CRAFT.

And the number of craft projects you can do with Island shells is almost as wide and varied as the shells themselves.

One of the nicest projects we have found on line is that of creating picture frames.  You really have to see it to believe it, in this instance, to get the full impact of what a sea shell frame can look like.  This illustration and tutorial on everything etsy shows you how to create a stunning look with a step by step description.  We are sure you will agree that the finished product would grace the living room, bedroom or den of any home:

With the holiday season coming up, those of you with a steady hand and lots of females on your gift giving list may want to consider making jewelry with some of your more delicate shells.  The biggest challenge with this craft is not breaking those beautiful fragile items in getting to the finished project.  But we think this tutorial will go a long way in helping you create some lovely designs for necklaces and other wearable art with shells:

OK, so now you have a lovely frame for your house, some really neat gifts to hand out, but you still have a few pretty pieces left over.  What about the kids?  This could be a fun project for them, and keep them busy on cold winter day as well.  Just think of the memories and dreams you can stimulate in having them create some little koala bear shells with those orphaned pieces:

Our words of parting advice?  Value your shells but think ahead to what you will do with them.  Shell collecting on Sanibel is one of the nicest ways to spend time here, however, not every shell needs to travel with you.  The beach will welcome them back!