Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Big Lagoon State Park

We just got back from a few rainy days of tent camping at Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola Florida. We teamed up with four other families and hung out and explored the area a little. The storms were pretty horrible; one family abandoned their camp at 2 AM and sought refuge at a hotel. Our tent held up well, but at the height of the rain, water was being forced through the canvas and leaks formed at the seems.

After setting up camp and giving everybody time to arrive and do the same, we took a walk out to the lagoon along one of the many trails. Right off the trail was an osprey nest in the top of a dead pine tree. The male and female were taking turns nest-watching and gathering food.

Along the shore of the lagoon several creatures were going about their business.

Blue crab

Clam shell covered with barnacles, an oyster and many calcareous worm tubes

Hermit crab

Orange milkwort and grasshopper nymph

On the following day we met with Mom from nearby Mobile for a meal together and then had a few hours at the Gulf Islands National Seashore to enjoy the beach. It was overcast, then rainy again. I greatly underestimated my UV exposure and got a little pink on the shoulders. 

Poorman's Patch

Laughing gulls

Goose barnacle

Hot beach babe

Giant sand flea

Beach monkey-cat

Ben got a little crazy with the digging all the way to China. He had been using goggles to keep his hair back, but the hair would not be contained.

I don't know what to call this. One of the kids had this technique for making sand castle walls that was pretty cool.


After sunset and another break in the rain we took a little night hike towards the observation tower at Big Lagoon. We were surprised to find many creatures including shrimp with reflective eyes that prowled the shallows, sandhoppers and ants crawling over piles of cast-off worm tubes and one of more dangerous creatures in the water...

Portuguese man o' war among the plumed worm tubes

Kurt shows how to hold a crab without being pinched

Southern toad (ID by Dr David Steen)

Squareback marsh crab

Beach wolf spider (ID by Catherine Scott)

On Monday we hid from the rain at the Naval Aviation Museum. I won't post all the pictures here, because airplane pictures rank right up there with pictures of fish... but here are some the various aircraft fuselage art and a few highlights from the museum. 

Could have used some of that G.I. foot powder this trip...

That evening the rain stopped again and we headed over to the pavilion near the overlook and the osprey nest. We built a fire in the pavilion fireplace and roasted marshmallows.



The rare and illusive Florida swamp vampire wombat

The rain held off the rest of the night, but radar and the forecast indicated that the next day  would be a torrent so we planned to hit the beach again and get what time we could in the sand and surf before heading home a day early. The sky was a diffused grey the whole morning with no distinct sun overhead. Again, I probably got a little too much sun...

Shark tooth, about 1/4" long

Mole crab

Coquina clams

Great blue heron

The drive home...

All the picture from the trip are here: