Monday, June 29, 2009

A Coral Snake in Coosa County Alabama

There was an interesting article in the June 29 edition of the Birmingham News. A coral snake was captured and released in Coosa County, Alabama. They are rare in coastal Alabama and very rarely have been sighted this far north.

Coral snakes have the most toxic venom of any snake in North America. However, they are less likely to strike than pit vipers like rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins.

The saying is "red, then yellow, kill a fellow; red, then black, you're OK, Jack." I think I'd second guess myself with the rhyme. I'd just take a picture from a distance.

Here's a blog account of the story:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Where I've Been - Chart Your Travel Map

I have found an interesting site.

Here you can chart your travels, places you've lived, and places you want to go. Its even got a free picture and video positing section.

Here's my profile:

Here's my "Where I've Been Map."

Haven't listed all of the cities that I've visited. That will take quite awhile.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Find Lakes Anywhere in the United States

With this Google map application, find over 40,000 lake, reservoir and pond locations. Shows street and highway access, as well as satellite and aerial photo imagery. Zoom in and pan out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Never Before Caught a Stingray This Way

I've caught many stingrays on the Alabama Gulf Coast. If you're fishing the beaches and bays with natural baits its impossible not to catch them.

On our last trip to Gulf Shores, I hooked one. I knew it was a ray because my line suddenly went tight. I couldn't budge it. Like many do, this one had buried himself up in the sand. Even small ones are hard to drag out when they do this, and usually the fisherman has no choice but to cut the line, as I did.

I re-rigged and made a cast. I had a hit, but didn't hook the fish. While reeling in I noticed that I had hooked a line. I grabbed the line and pulled the stingray in by hand that I lost.

Notice the barb in the last picture. Even small stingrays like this one have prominent barbs that can be dangerous. Stingrays are gentile and non-aggressive, but they can be dangerous if you invade their space.

Read more about stingrays here

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kayaking - Bon Secour River, Alabama Gulf Coast

Our son Chris was going to be married in Old Pensacola. Family members were going to be driving and flying in from as far west as Colorado and as far south as Orlando for the wedding on May 30th. My wife and I wanted to do some things before the reunion got in full swing. One of those things on our list was some kayaking on the Bon Secour River. Until I struck up a friendship on Twitter with one of the owners of Beach'n'River, I had no idea that canoes and kayaks could be rented directly on the river. There are several places to rent in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, but that is "big water" and though you can get to the creeks and rivers from there, launching a kayak on the river gets you quickly to a part of the Alabama Gulf Coast that very few visitors have an opportunity to see.

Upon our arrival at Beach'n'River we were greeted by the owners, Jerry and Shelly. We had a nice conversation about the how they got into the business and why they enjoy it so much. Shelly showed us her herb garden and Jerry showed us his roosters.

Jerry and Shelly both told us the story behind their vacation rental home, while pointing to it across the creek. We didn't have time on this vacation to stay at the river home rental, but after spending some time on the river neither of us would mind spending a few busy days and quiet nights there.

Jerry helped me drag our kayaks a short distance down to the tributary that leads to the Bon Secour River. They told us a few things we might see on different routes. Then we took our shoes off and launched the kayaks. Almost anybody can enjoy kayaking. It only takes seconds to learn the basics and on Bon Secour River all you need to know is the basics. We immediately began seeing beautiful scenery, and after a few minutes I was taking photos. The water was shallow and crystal clear, so we could easily see the white sandy river bottom.

Soon we entered the deeper waters of the river and stopped for a few minutes to watch some kids who were climbing trees to swing into the water from dangling ropes.

We turned left and followed the river and almost immediate noticed a smell (a nice one). The bank was lined with blooming gardenias. Most likely they were remnants of homes from an earlier time.

We paddled for close tp thirty minutes down the river, and then we decided to turn around a paddle in the opposite direction towards Bon Secour Bay. Before we got close to the noise of the kids swinging into the water, I spotted a squirrel jumping from limb to limb to cross the creek and watched several turtles slide into the water.

We couldn't look in any direction without seeing beautiful scenery. Flowers, ferns, Southern magnolias, saw palmetto palms, wax myrtles, and yaupon hollies all under a canopy of live oaks was a common scene.

Much of the trip was through wilderness, but in other areas both mansions and rustic retreats were on the waterfront. This Southern mansion sets high and probably dry during even major hurricanes.

Kudzu covers the steep banks of the river and Spanish moss hangs from the trees on the mansion property. If you take a camera on your trip it is going to be impossible not to pause to snap some photos.

I was usually a few hundred feet in front of Kathy, but every once in awhile I would slow up and let her catch up with me so that we could float side-by-side for awhile.

Mallards were common on the river, but this group resting on a log made a particularly nice photo.

The closer to Bon Secour Bay, the more saltwater fish species mix with freshwater fish. It is possible to catch a largemouth bass on one cast and a redfish on the next. Other freshwater species in the river include, bass, bream, and alligator gar. Other saltwater species include flounder, speckled trout, white trout, and bluefish.

Blue herons are huge birds and are almost always on the river. Blue herons nest together, but away from the nest they are usually solitary birds.

We spotted this small bird on his nest. We thought we were would frighten her while moving closer for a picture, but she remained on the nest even while we were directly under it.

Huge elephant ears are common on the river.

As we got closer to the bay, the boats got bigger. It is possible to dock your boat and have lunch or dinner while kayaking. The Galley is located here and serves that purpose well.

We paddled for about thirty minutes longer. The skies were getting darker, and I knew Kathy wasn't going to paddle into the bay under dark skies and light rain. We turned around and the trip back was as enjoyable as the trip out. If we had have paddled into the bay, we could have more than likely had dolphins swimming very close to us. As close as we were to the water in our kayaks, that would have been a lot of fun.

Upon arriving at Beach'n'River, I pulled the kayaks out of the water. Soon Jerry and Shelly were at the creek bank, asking us if we had a good time. We had a great time. I can honestly recommend kayaking the Bon Secour River, and there is no better place to begin than at Beach'n'River.

For more information on kayaking the Bon Secour River:

Beach'n'River Canoe and Kayak Rentals