Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gulf Islands National Seashore

This national seashore was established by congress in 1971, to protect the natural environment as well as historical structures and archaeological sites.  Beautiful beyond belief, the sugar white sands and turquoise seas of these barrier islands stretch 160 miles from Cat Island Mississippi to Okaloosa area, east of Fort Walton Beach Florida. I visited this wonder in the Pensacola, Florida area last March, so these are early spring impressions.

The white sands were once granite
 in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Seaside..these vistas stretch for miles!

Sea Oats (Uniola paniculata)

Punctuated by shorebirds searching for a snack



Or Brown Pelicans flying by, like visions from a prehistoric past..

On the bay.

Bay side

A brief glimpse of dolphins in the bay.

In the island's interiors, marshes collect rainwater and support many plants and animals.

Springtime nesting in the marsh..Great Blue Heron.

Oops! Pardon me..

Island interior, slash pines, live oaks and snags.

A magnificent Live Oak (Quercus viginiana)

Guarding this 1942 Battery

Birds love perching on the snags..this is the "snag gallery"

Listen to the Mockingbird..

White Winged Dove

See my nicitating membrane?

Osprey in the evening..

I was lucky enough to find a Marsh Interpretive trail
..saving me hours of trying to ID plants.

Florida Rosemary (Ceritiola ericoides)

Aromatic, but not culinary.
Seeds germinate after the plant dies,
 to reduce water competition.

Conradina canescens, mint family.

Ilex vomitoria

Historically used to induce vomiting.

Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera).
The berries are food for birds,
 and provided wax for colonists candles.

Tail end of Armadillo. I saw several rooting for food..

Sawtooth Blackberry (Rubus argutus)

Or Florida Blackberry..see my sawtooth leaves?

Inkberry ( Ilex glabra)
Berries are food sources for birds and many other animals.

The flowers of Fetterbush, (Lyonia lucida) or Lantern Bush
provide nectar for birds.

Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) is really a sedge. Covering extensive areas, It provides food shelter and nesting sites.

Slash Pine (Pinus elliotti) surprisingly, not salt tolerant.
Historically, these pines were "slashed" to provide turpentine.

Sunset in the marsh.

Fort Pickens , one of three forts on these islands,
was completed in 1834, to protect Pensacola Bay.

Sunset at Fort Pickens, a favorite place for locals.
A wedding party was there that night.
The more clearly we can focus on the wonders around us, the less time we will have for destruction~Rachel Carson