Friday, February 13, 2009

Exploring and Discovery begins

Thursday was a blur. The Bird Ramble was blast. I will write about that later.
Right now, it is what I did late Thursday and Friday morning that has me excited. I have begun to explore the connection between our coastal habitats and shorebirds. In November and December, there were several events that helped me to decide I could do this. Taking Trish Rugaber’s Botany for Artists workshop introduced me to the Digital Dissection Microscope. I found I could capture images to draw! Then I helped with a teachers workshop and while following along behind some Red Knots and digging around in the sand I discovered amphipods.

Several other trips out in the marsh peaked my curiosity's.

I do have help.
Georgia Graves is a gifted environmental educator. If you want to know how our beaches work take one of her workshops. I am thrilled to know that Georgia Graves who is going to help me explore. So yesterday about 4:30 in the afternoon we met at East Beach on St. Simons Island. I thought we would have to walk up to the birds to start looking. No, Georgia told me we could start anywhere on this sandy beach. We walk over to a ridge of sand and the dug our sieves down in and plopped it in the container. I had my sample.
Friday morning we met at Science Lab at Coastal Community College. Trish helped me set up. The time melted away as we found tiny creatures called amphipods and a couple of live coquina clams.

An amphipod as captured by the microscope

Same amphipod backlite
Gene Keferl, a birder and a retired professor, joined us for a little while. As we watch an amphipod, he told us the Sanderlings are actually eating these creatures. Following the birds you will see the bills just scrape the surface of the sand for a meal of amphipods. Amazing! It was eye opening. Just think, there is a whole world right under your feet.
A live coquina under the microscope. There is the transparent foot pushing the shell around in the water.

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