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Posts Tagged ‘starfish’

sprucecones

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky
~ Jimi Hendrix

purple starfishWith less than three weeks left to go before Midsummer’s Eve, spring is in full swing.  The days aren’t as warm as we’d like yet, but summer is on the doorstep.  The color purple caught my eye today on spruce cones along the Salt Marsh Trail.  It won’t be long before their light purple color will darken and eventually change to brown.  Right now, their hue contrasts nicely with the fresh light green of the new growth.  

Starfish can often be spotted from the first couple of bridges along the trail.  Today I was able to catch a glimpse of one with its arms stretched out evenly  in the water.  Live, local starfish have a purple cast that’s barely discernible on sun-dried specimens found along the seashore. 

violets

Following the lead of wild ones in the grass, the deeper purple tame violets have emerged in the flower bed.  Their brilliant color will fade with the summer’s heat. 

lupinsPurple lupins are a common sight along the side of the road and in gardens in Nova Scotia.   Though they’re also found in shades of pink and white, the purple ones seem to dominate.

Purple is a color associated with spirituality, mystery and royalty.  During different periods in history, its use in clothing has been restricted to either nobility or an elite class of individuals.  It can be created by a variety of methods using lichens, the roots of madder plants or murex shells, with the latter producing the most brilliant hue.  In painting, it was a favorite of Vincent Van Gogh who often juxtaposed it with yellow for maximum effect.

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Echinoderms
Echinoderms

The following article was written for the December 2008 issue of The Beacon:

 

At this time of year, it seems that stars are beginning to show up everywhere. They’re seen in ice crystals, holiday decorations, wrapping paper, nativity scenes, Christmas treetops and the sparkling eyes of children.  In local wildlife, the star shape can also be found on our beaches in the forms of Echinoderms, sea creatures that are distinguished by a 5-part radial symmetry:

 

A live Sea Urchin is covered with spines which hide the star shape that is only revealed upon its death, at which time the spines become dry and fall off.  These urchins are greatly enjoyed by seagulls at low tide.  Although they’re commonly found on the shore, I’ve also found urchin shells in the woods where they’ve been dropped from the sky by gulls hoping to crack them open on rocks.

 

Starfish are known for their amazing ability to grow back an appendage should it be lost.  There is an eye spot at the tip of each arm so that the Starfish can see ahead regardless of which arm is leading its direction.  The mouth is located beneath its central disc.  A carnivore, the Starfish will use its strong arms to open mussel or clam shells.  Once the shell is opened, the starfish pushes its stomach through its mouth right into the bivalve it is eating.

 

The Sand Dollars found on our local beaches are of the Sea Biscuit variety.  While living, they are covered with thousands of soft brown hairs.  These hairs fall off and the shell is bleached white by the sun once the Sand Dollar dies and is washed ashore.  Although the top of the Sand Dollar has a flower shape on it that looks like a Christmas Poinsettia, a look at its underside will reveal a delicate yet distinct 5-point star shape.

 

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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Just a few minutes’ drive from Flandrum Hill, the Salt Marsh Trail off Bissett Road offers a splendid opportunity to walk through a salt marsh and observe its inhabitants up close.  In the past month, I’ve seen three porcupines sleeping in an apple tree right next to the trail, hundreds of migrating Canada Geese,  a dozen Great Blue Herons standing together in the water at low tide, the largest starfish I’ve seen yet in the wild, and four (yes four) Bald Eagles at once, hunting in close proximity of each other.

The trail begins in a woodland setting and after a ten minute walk, opens up to the marsh.  The panoramic views alone, especially at sunrise, are well worth the trip. 

At this time of year, the marsh grass turns a brilliant gold which contrasts sharply with the steel grey water on overcast days.   The ebb and flow of the tides can be observed with both your eyes and ears as you walk over the wooden bridges.  The sound of your feet on the wood planks adds much to the experience.

The trail is built along an abandoned railway track and crosses the marsh with a series of bridges that allow hikers and bikers to stand right in the middle of this delicate ecosystem without disturbing it.  

The Salt Marsh Trail connects to Lawrencetown Beach via the Atlantic View Trail, and to Shearwater via the Shearwater Flyer Trail.

For all posts about the Salt Marsh Trail see:

https://flandrumhill.wordpress.com/category/the-salt-marsh-trail/

Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell

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