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Homeschool Ocean Nature Study and Marine Biology Resources

Looking for some help in starting a homeschool ocean nature study or marine biology with your children? Wanting to learn more about tide pools? Looking for help with homeschool lesson plans? Not sure what to do or where to get started?

A homeschool ocean nature study is a fun and exciting family activity. With resources for a marine biology, exploring tidal pools and more!

Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them.

Psalm 69:34

Ocean Nature Study, Ocean Life, Tide Pools, and Aquariums: A Great Marine Biology Unit Study

I’m going to pull together the ocean nature study resources and materials that I found planning our study of marine biology. My boys used these ideas while homeschooling high school but much of the information is absolutely appropriate for younger students. I invite you to read more about how families can learn about marine life together. Tricia has a resource on Homeschool Marine Biology for Multiple Ages.

With a little effort, you can make a homeschool ocean study a fun and exciting family activity.

I am a huge fan of interest driven learning for life. My boys have had an interest in the ocean since they were very little. Not only were they curious about the typical things like sharks and dolphins, but they also wanted to know more about the things that are often hidden from sight deep under the ocean’s surface. As a homeschooling family, we were able to create opportunities to follow their interests, to feed the curiosity that they had about ocean life.

In high school, we made a more formal study of marine biology. All of their previous experiences with ocean creatures in real life were connected together as we worked through this curriculum. They had memories of so many of the topics from personal and up close observations. There could have been no better way to learn these things.

“One is completely stunned by the incredible resourcefulness of the Creator.”

~Carolus Linnaeus, creator of the modern biology classification system

I love when we can combine our personal interests into our homeschooling plans. Our family thoroughly enjoyed our year focusing on an ocean nature study and marine biology because we made it fit our learning styles. It gave us a legitimate excuse to take trips to the ocean, combining school subjects and pleasure. Sometimes it felt like we were having too much fun to call it “school” but that is the freedom that homeschooling gives us.

A homeschool ocean nature study is a fun and exciting family activity. With resources for a marine biology, exploring tidal pools and more!

Homeschool Marine Biology Lesson Plan

Our family used a textbook as the spine for our ocean nature study and marine biology study. In addition, we used some more specific resources that fit the learning styles of our children including a scientific coloring book, field guides, and an additional activity book.

The books and resources we used are listed below. Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to products I have used, owned, and loved.

We used Exploring Creation with Marine Biology (Tricia’s review) as our basic textbook with our high school age boys. This text is a perfect fit for our family and we enjoyed the topics, the information, and the sequence of learning. Each week we learned something new and interesting that we could draw from on our field trips.

Note: If your children are younger, you could use Apologia’s Exploring Creation: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. (Tricia’s review)

As a supplement we used the Marine Biology Coloring Book for our notebooks. I have one visual spatial learner who learned so much from using this coloring book. It’s so much more than just a coloring book and has high school level information that supplements the text above. I highly recommend using it alongside any marine biology text you choose.

These Outdoor Hour Challenges are a nice complement to your Homeschool Ocean Nature Study:

Tide Pool Life Nature Journal Page Set

Tide pooling is a great family activity for your ocean nature study and can be incorporated into field trips and vacations!

Tide Pool Life Notebook Page Set is included with Homeschool Nature Study membership. This is a larger set (14 new pages) of notebooking pages for you to use to learn more about tide pool life. These pages will fit in nicely with lessons and research of note only tide pools, but also marine biology, invertebrates, the beach, and swimming things.

Handbook of Nature Study Seashore course

Seashore Homeschool Nature Study for Tidal Pools

There are pages for:

  • Barnacle
  • Chiton
  • Clam
  • Crab
  • Hermit Crab
  • Kelp
  • Limpet
  • Mussel
  • Sand Dollar
  • Sea Anemone
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Sea Slug
  • Sea Snail
  • and Sea Urchin

With a little preparation, exploring tide pools can be a great hook for additional ocean nature study. Once we observed something in its natural setting, our boys were eager to identify it and learn more.

Listed below are some of our many family tide pooling adventures.

Additional Homeschool Marine Biology Resources

I kept these resources on our nature shelf during our ocean nature study of marine biology. They were used often as we created nature journal pages after our beach and tide pool experiences.

Golden Guide Seashore Life

Seaside Naturalist

Seashore – Northern and Central California

101 Questions About the Seashore

marine biology aquarium field trips

Homeschool Nature Study Ocean Field Trips: Aquariums and Snorkeling

  • Oregon Coast Aquarium – We visited this museum just a few weeks ago and it was fantastic! The aquarium displays are gorgeous…a mixture of art and natural beauty. I printed out the field trip packet and we all completed the pages as we visited the aquarium.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium – This is the premier aquarium on the California coast. We love the setting and the layout of this aquarium. The “backstage” programs are well worth the effort of planning ahead.
  • Then we introduced the boys to snorkeling while on a trip to Hawaii. This added a new dimension to their personal experience with fish of the coral reef. It was exciting for them to swim with the fishes! Read about it here: Hawaiian Fish in My Nature Journal.

Hands On Homeschool Lessons for the Seashore

Our sister website, You ARE an ARTiST, has many ocean and seashore art lessons that go well with any marine biology study, including a whole section of sharks!

  • Starfish
  • Sand Castle
  • Sea Turtle
  • Crab
  • Clown Fish
  • Sand Bucket
  • Jellyfish
  • Night Shark
  • Undersea World

Our Homeschool Nature Study members enjoy a sand castle art lesson in their Seashore course!

More Homeschool Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenges for the Whole Family

You will find hundreds of homeschool nature studies plus all the Outdoor Hour Challenges in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. There are 25+ continuing courses with matching Outdoor Hour curriculum that will bring the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool! In addition, there is an interactive monthly calendar with daily nature study prompt – all at your fingertips!

Take advantage of the opportunity, especially in high school, to feed your child’s passions. We never regretted our decision to include a formal study of marine biology into our sons’ teen years.

You never know where your study will take you!

If you have any resources you have used in your study of marine biology, feel free to leave me a comment sharing the titles or ideas.

A homeschool ocean nature study is a fun and exciting family activity. With resources for a marine biology, exploring tidal pools and more!
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August Planning Page and Printables

August 2018 Nature Planning Page – Print Your Copy Here!

August 2018 Nature Planning Page

Download your copy here: August 2018 Nature Planning Page

Eagle Nature Study Notebook PageRattlesnake notebook page image

Seashore Observations Notebook Page Activity

In addition, I’ve created three new printables for you to use this month as well.

Seashore Observations: This is an exciting new printable activity that you can take with you to the beach. It helps your family through making some observations and then a scavenger hunt!

Rattlesnake Notebook Pages: This set of three notebooking pages will give you a spot in your nature journal to record what you learn and/or observe with rattlesnakes.

Eagle Notebook Page: Here’s another page in our on-going bird series for the eagle. We’ve seen so many eagles this summer that it just has to be featured on one of my nature journal pages. I invite you to do the research and then look for eagles soon!

Printables for Members Button

Print a complete list of printables available in the Ultimate and Journey level memberships by clicking the button above.


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Seashore Observations

Nature Book Club Seashore Observations and Printable

Handbook of Nature Study

Nature Book Club – July

Seashore Observations Using One Small Square

This is the perfect time to plan a trip to the ocean and take a nature walk with your children! As part of the latest edition of the Nature Book Club Link-Up, I’m sharing a terrific book and activity to inspire a closer look at the ocean, the beach, and tide pools!

The theme of the link-up for July is BEACH, SAND, AND SHELLS so after you read my entry, you can follow the links at the bottom of this post to see what my fellow club members are offering as part of this month’s nature study encouragement.

Here is the book I’m featuring: One Small Square – Seashore

You can look for it at your public library or it’s available from Amazon (note that I’m an Amazon affiliate and there are affiliate links in this entry).

july nature book club graphic

One Small Square – Seashore

I love every single book in the One Small Square series (by author Donald Silver). The illustrations alone make them an attractive and interesting series of books for children of all ages. The straightforward suggested observations are easy to follow and give you fantastic ideas of what to look for when you visit a particular habitat.

The seashore edition will not disappoint you with its colorful pictures of clearly labeled creatures and plants you may observe during a typical trip to the ocean.  The activities are simple and use common supplies like a magnifying glass, paper, pencil, hand trowel, etc.

Seashore Observations Notebook Page Activity

Seashore Observations Activity

Use my new Seashore Observations printable activity to inspire some enthusiasm for a beach nature study. You can print the page, fold it in half, and insert it in most nature journals. I would suggest printing it ahead of time and taking it along with a pencil or pen in your beach bag. Use the prompts to encourage observations and the grid as a scavenger hunt activity. Fill in the boxes with sketches and/or words of things of interest your child found on the beach.

Download a copy here: No longer available for free download.

Only available here in this blog entry until 7/31/18.<<<<<< Members have access to this printable in their library>>>>>>>>

Keep it fun!

You can read about some of our beach nature study adventures in these entries:

Also, if you’re a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you’ll want to check out these archived newsletters for additional beach nature study ideas.

  • June 2012 Ocean Beach
  • June 2017 Beach and Fish

Ultimate Naturalist Library September 2017 @handbookofnaturestudy

Here’s more information on becoming a member: Join Us!


nature book club main graphic

Note: This post is part of a monthly series of posts I’m writing as part of a fantastic group of nature loving women who I’m linking up with on the 20th of each month. There’s a topic of the month and we’ll all share a book and activity that goes along with that theme.  You can use the links at the bottom of this post to see all of our books/activities. Use the linky tool below to share your own nature walk related links this month too.

Check out these other links for more nature walk ideas from Nature Book Club Co-Hosts!


Past Month’s Themes:

Link Up Guidelines

    • Choose an engaging nature book, do a craft or activity, and add your post to our monthly link up.
    • The link up party goes live at 9:00 a.m. EST on the 20th of each month and stays open until the last day of the month. Hurry to add your links!
    • You can link up to 3 posts. Please do not link up advertising posts, advertise other link up parties, your store, or non-related blog posts. They will be removed.
    • By linking up with us, you agree for us to share your images and give you credit of course if we feature posts.

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Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter – May 2017 Beach and Fish

HNS Newsletter Cover May 2017

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter

May 2017 Beach and Fish


Please read the following explanation outlining how to get this month’s newsletter.

The newsletter link is not in this email but will come separately. Members should have received their link already.

If you don’t receive the separate email with the download link, you probably aren’t subscribed to the blog yet. This will take less than a minute to do if you follow the steps below.

If you are a subscriber and you haven’t received your newsletter email yet, check your SPAM inbox. Some subscribers have found the email buried in SPAM inbox.

Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now

If you need to subscribe:

  • You will need to go to the Handbook of Nature Study, look to the top right corner for the box to type in your preferred email address, and then confirm the email that comes to your email inbox.
  • Once you subscribe, you will receive a thank you email from me with the download link for the current month’s newsletter.

This month’s newsletter link will be available only during the month of May so be sure to download it before 5/31/17.

Remember! All of the archived and current newsletters are available as part of the Ultimate Naturalist Library…every level!

Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter March 2017

Contents of this edition of the newsletter include:

  • This month the theme of the newsletter goes along with the Ambleside Online theme of fish.  I expanded on that theme to include beach nature study ideas.
  • There is a Nature Study Planning Page for May with lots of great ideas related to the monthly theme.
  • Don’t miss reading this article by contributor Jamie Worley from See Jamie Blog
  • Printable: Fish Grid Study

Resources for your Nature Library: I have started to build a nature library store on Amazon that will feature by category my favorite nature study books and resources. Take a look and see if there is anything you would like to put on your wish list for your family’s nature study library: Handbook of Nature Study Nature Library Suggestions on Note this is my affiliate store to items I personally recommend and have read or seen in person.

Please note that Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level members have access to members only printables each month in addition to the newsletter printables. You will need to log into your account and then go to the “Other Releases” section.


Outdoor Hour Challenge Wildflower Set 1 Ebook

This new ebook is found in the Ultimate Naturalist and Journey level memberships.

Ultimate Naturalist Library Benefits by Level June 2016

As a special promo, you can use the discount code WILDFLOWER5 for $5 off the Ultimate Naturalist Membership.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Membership


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Snail Observations at the Tidepools

Snail Study at the Oregon Coast @handbookofnatuestudy

This month as I wrote the Handbook of Nature Study newsletter, I really didn’t think I would find any snails to observe up close. Some topics are like that and I don’t anticipate having the opportunity to see the month’s focus topic in person. But, many times I am proven wrong and all of my preparation for the study is rewarded with an awesome experience.

Oregon Coast Tidepool Snails

This happened while camping on the Oregon coast when we found lots and lots of black turban snails (Tegula funebralis)  to view up close and in detail.

Here is a short YouTube video that we uploaded showing the animal that lives inside the shell:Black Turban

Black Turban Snail Oregon Coast

This is the star of our nature study…the black turban which in real life looks quite blue or purple. We discovered the reason for this doing some research once we were able to get on the internet. Take a close look at who is living on the outer shell of this black turban! Amazing since the size of the snail shell is probably a little over an inch….it just looks bigger in my close up images. (click on the photo to really see it)

Oregon Coast tidepools and snails

They get pounded by the surf and it actually wears away the outer shell to expose the colorful layers underneath. This image shows just how plentiful they are on this part of the coast. This is only exposed at low tide so the black turban actually can capture some water inside its shell and then “plug” it up with the operculum to keep itself moist until the tide rises again and they are under water. Amazing creation!

oregon trip 2016 tidepools harris beach  (7)

If you look closely at the images, you may spy some limpets and barnacles on the rocks surrounding the snails and also on the snails outer shell! This was not apparent to use until we looked at the images and is quite common.

Want to learn more about the Oregon Tidepools? Here is a wonderful and helpful link: Oregon Tidepools.

Just a sidenote: I found a wonderful page on the Monterey Bay Aquarium that features many invertebrates that you might like to share with your children. So many of these don’t look like they should be invertebrates so it may spark some interest in the topic for your family. Plus, it is a beautiful page! Invertebrates – Animal Guide

mollusk nature journal pageHere is my very sloppy journal page for our discovery…it is more about the learning than the journal at this point in my life. I hope it inspires you to create something after your snail study!

Handbook of Nature Study Subscribe Now

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Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter August 2016 Cover image











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Channel Islands National Park – Tips and Images


This month I will be sharing another of the Western United States’ National Parks. The Channel Islands National Park is one many are not aware of and no little about its beauties.

Channel Islands National Park – link to the official website. There are many things to do if you visit this national park like hiking, camping, kayaking, whale watching, diving, and learning more about the plants and animals that make their home here.

Our family visited in 2008 as part of a trip to the coast of California. We stayed a couple nights in Santa Barbara and then went down to Ventura where we could catch a ferry boat to the Channel Islands. On the mainland in Ventura, California there is a Visitor’s Center that has telescopes where you can look out over to the islands but not much else.

For the rest of the entry…click back to an archived entry to see super images and lots of details.

Channel Islands National Park

You can read more in this series of posts to learn more about specific national parks:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Redwoods National Park

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Oregon Camping – Beaches, Tall Trees, and Tidepools

We all were aching to get on the road and start our week long camping trip in Oregon. Part of the joy of driving to Oregon are the views along the Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast. Amazing! The photo above is between Arcata and Crescent City along a stretch of the coast that at this time of year is ablaze with lupine…the fragrance is divine as you walk through the vegetation to the sandy beach.

When the boys get out onto to the sand for the first time it is pure joy! They stretch their legs after a long car ride and enjoy the Northern California wide open sandy beaches. We walked a long way, looking for beach treasures as we went. Then it was back into the car for the last leg of the trip over the California/Oregon border and up to Brookings and our beloved Harris Beach.

Yes! This is our campsite this year which overlooks the Pacific Ocean…looking westward and perfect for watching the sun go down each day. We were surprised at how light it was late into the evening…sunset was about 9 PM each day but it was light much longer than that.

Two of the days we were there we were able to take advantage of the negative tide and do some serious tidepooling.

Lots and lots of anemones to be seen…large and small!

Look carefully in this image and you can see the sea star’s “feet” that are clinging to the rocks at low tide. There were so many sea stars of many colors, sizes, and types. I love being able to see up close all the things we learned about from books.

I brought along a Stomp Rocket for the family to use on the beach. This was a fabulous idea and the boys (and mom and dad) each had turns stomping the rocket and watching it propel off down the beach.

We spent many, many hours walking the beaches and collecting colorful rocks…sometimes my pockets were all filled to capacity. I enjoyed sorting my rocks by colors on the picnic table at the campsite. I left them out each night and in the morning the dew would make them shiny and shimmery again.

These were my favorites…the red, green, and gray ones.

I also like this colorful kind which sort of looks like wood. I have a couple more rock related entries to share with you next month as part of my nature study goals and collecting various kinds of rocks. This was a great way to keep nature study at the forefront of our a good goal.

Mr. A was my fellow photographer at the tidepools. He was willing to really get out where he might slip and get wet to capture some great images of his own. He uses his cell phone camera and they turn our really great.

Here is a shot of my other photography buddy…Mr. D. He is more of an artist with his camera and takes his time to get just the right shot with the right setting. His images are amazing. This was also the very first time that our Kona dog has gone camping with us. She settled right in and had a great time. The wonderful thing about Oregon is that dogs are allowed on the trails as long as they are on a leash. She was able to take every hike with us…love Oregon!

We spent two different days in the redwoods hiking in the quiet stillness. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and it was so very refreshing. I already miss it. I am checking off another new hike on my 2013 Nature Study Goals, two down and two to go!

Can you just imagine how far you can walk on this Oregon beach? It was a windy day but it wasn’t cold so we took advantage of the open space and just roamed for a very long time. (I collected a few rocks too.)

Hello Mr. Snail!

Oh wow! These ferns were amazing! I loved seeing the black stems and the graceful way the fronds grow.

Aren’t they just incredibly pretty? I knew that our California Maidenhair fern had a black stem so I though maybe they were related. I looked it up when we got home and sure enough! This is the Northern Maidenhair fern.

On our last day we visited Crissey Field State Park which has a wonderful visitors center. We spent some time viewing all the nature displays and gathered some pamphlets for future use. We had a picnic lunch and then adventured out to the beach which is so very beautiful. Driftwood, dune plants and flowers, and a nice sandy beach are just what we needed to end our trip on a high note.

We were so happy that our trip turned out with gorgeous sunny skies for the majority of the week. We were able to do a lot of hiking, a lot of exploring, and enjoyed each other’s company while visiting the Southern Oregon Coast.

Until next time….

Have you seen the new product over at If you own a Lifetime Membership over on Debra’s website, you can log into your account on and download your set right now. If you aren’t already a member over there, you can purchase the set separately or I would highly recommend a Lifetime Membership so you can access all of the 1000’s of notebooking pages she has to offer. ($4.95 for the set or get started with your membership with $10!)

Marine Invertebrates Notebooking Pages

Please note I am an affiliate for and have used the notebooking pages with my family for years!

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Our Oregon Coast Wildflower and Weed Grid

This is the Oregon Coast Edition of the Wildflower and Weed Grid Study! I had a fun-filled week of hiking and beach-combing in Oregon and we had our eyes out for as many wildflowers as we could possible find. It wasn’t hard because each trail had an abundance of wildflowers for us to enjoy.

I tried to capture as man of them as I could to share with you in this post.

Blue Oregon Iris – These are a frequent flower along the trail.

Sea pinks along the shore…blowing in the wind, casting cool shadows.

Our campsite was filled with clover and daisies. Imagine…daisies so plentiful they seem like weeds!

Cow parsnip lines the roads and pops up along the shore. Some of these plants are super tall and the flower heads are enormous.

Inside Out Flower was found in the shady spots and it is one of my favorites from this trip. I decided to include a special page in my nature journal for it (see below).

We found patches of lupine along the Humbug Mountain Trail. This trail was a new one for us and what a view! It was a lot of fun to adventure up and we look forward to taking this trail again.

The Monkey flower was amazing! There were areas along the moist gully that just screamed yellow from this pretty flower.

A familiar sight along any redwood forest trail this time of year is the rhododendron….this one was a pale pink. This was spotted along the Shrader Old Growth Trail. This is a fun hike out of Gold Beach and worth the long dusty dirt road to get there. We had the trail all to ourselves on this morning. There is nothing like being out in the wilderness hiking along hearing the birds and nothing else.

One day we visited Crissey Field State Park which has an awesome visitor’s center and several trails. The beach there is wide and open which invites you to walk a long way next to the shore. This Sea Verbena was growing along the sandy dunes. My boys were entranced by all the driftwood and they spent about an hour just hunting among the piles for interesting shapes. Boys.

These are pretty little Seaside daisies….another one I really like and will be adding to my nature journal. I think the delicate fringe-like petals are the best part of this flower.

Smith’s Fairybells…another shade loving plant we saw a lot of as we hiked.

It always makes me happy to see where flowers naturally grow to make pretty color combinations. These sweet peas and daisies were found right along the edge of the bank in our campground.

Seaside Tansy…the interesting part of this plant are the fern-like leaves. They also grow right along the dry cliffside going down to the beaches.

This Tiger Lily was actually in Del Norte County, California. The drive up Hwy 101 takes you through Redwoods National Park where the Tiger Lilies are blooming profusely along the road. I had to stop and capture one for you! Gorgeous!

We found Wild Bleeding Hearts too! We have these planted in our garden here at home but it was fun to see them growing in their natural environment.

Aren’t these lovely? Western Azaleas grow in Harris Beach State Park and we always look forward to seeing their happy blossoms.

We saw many Wild Cucumbers blooming but this one had its fruit already formed. Isn’t it interesting? It is in the gourd family and you can see why when you see the fruits.

Here are the flowers from the Wild Cucumber.

I know this is a non-native invasive plant but we saw it on many of the trails. Wild Radish comes in a variety of colors…white, soft pink, light lavender.

This is my first unidentified wildflower…if anyone knows what it is you can leave me a comment.
EDIT: I think this is Yellow Parentucellia...figwort family. Range: Western Washington to NW California.

This is my second unidentified wildflower…yellow ones stump me for some reason.

This we saw in a pond at Lagoon Creek which is technically in California. Yellow Pond Lilies were blooming all over the pond.

So there you have all the interesting images that I could pull from my camera. We did see quite a few more and if you look closely at my Wildflower Grid nature journal page you will see them listed.

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Florida Nature Study – Exploring a New Habitat

Spending part of my time in Florida immersed in nature study was a highlight of my recent traveling adventure. I prepared ahead of time by purchasing a wonderful book focusing on the Florida Gulf Coast. Wow! There was a lot to be excited about! My trip was specifically to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and then a few days in Naples, Florida. Getting the opportunity to explore a new to me habitat is thrilling!

Since my time was limited but I did have a sweet ride in my friend Tricia’s sponsored car from Kia Optima Hybrid, I wanted to have a general plan for our time outdoors. I narrowed it down to a couple of possibilities and we decided that we would visit Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. We started off in the nature center browsing the exhibits and then I asked at the information desk what they suggested we do to make the best use of our two hours that we had available.

They handed us a map and directed us to take the wildlife drive that wound its way through the refuge and would take about an hour and a half. They also suggested that we drive over to the Bailey Tract and look for gators there.

Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

We followed their advice and thoroughly enjoyed our time driving along the one lane road through Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There were many birds right by the side of the road so we could stop and observe or take photos as much as we wanted. What made it really nice was the fact that the Kia Optima Hybrid is super quiet while running on the battery. We did not scare away the wildlife turning the car on and off….it was awesome.

We saw a mama raccoon and her *four* babies as they walked along the road and then across right in front of us. The whole drive was full of wonderful discoveries like the Roseate Spoonbill and the Anhinga who was sunning himself. What a great time we had and so many memories were made in a short period of time! I was so glad I had taken the time to prepare a little before leaving home.

Alligator and other Reptiles at Bailey Tract

Tricia and I were hoping to see a Florida gator on this trip and we were not disappointed. Along the way we also were treated to many butterflies and a few lizards. I can’t tell you how much fun we had hiking out to look for the alligators. We found one lying in the sun, half in the water and with one eye open. Another item to check off my life list!

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are known for their fantastic shell beaches. As a native California girl, I have spent my fair share of time at the beach looking for shells, but shelling on these Florida islands is much easier and more rewarding. Tricia and I spent one afternoon walking in the sand, wading in the water, and collecting a few beautiful shells in the Florida sunshine.

Our view from our hotel room was out onto the marina and we saw dolphins a couple of times over the weekend. Two times I saw osprey with fish in their talons flying over the marina. There were nesting platforms along the back side of the beach and one morning I saw some osprey on the their nest. What a great sight!

The Beach at Captiva Island and an Osprey Nest

There were shore birds, skimmers, gulls, sand pipers, pelicans, and plovers. It was a bird fest for this nature loving gal.

Pine Flatwoods at Corkscrew Swamp

Tricia left for home and I met another longtime friend at the second location I was able to explore. I stayed in Naples, Florida and was able to visit Corkscrew Swamp Sactuary. There are miles of boardwalks to investigate as they make their way through a variety of habitats. Slash pine and baldcypress were the main trees but there were some palms and saw palmetto too. The sound of birds singing and the cries of Red-shouldered hawks overhead were the soundtrack for the morning. We also learned to identify the Gray catbird by its call.

Epiphytes or Air Plants

We hiked the complete trail loop and took our time as we stopped to use binoculars and video to try to identify the various birds. There were naturalists out on the trail as well and they were super helpful in giving us information and help when we couldn’t identify a bird. This place was awesome and another place I highly recommend if you ever visit the gulf coast of Florida.

I was overwhelmed by all the things to take in…from the overall impression of the new to me habitat to the calls of some really big birds like the Great Blue Heron and the Anhinga. We saw more gators, squirrels, and more new birds to add to my life list like the Great crested flycatcher, the Pileated woodpecker, and the Carolina wren…all very exciting! I was able to use my iPhone to identify or confirm our sightings and then use the notes section on the phone to keep track of their names. Sometimes technology has its place in nature study and this was one time I was super glad to have it along.

Anhinga and Great Egret

One last stop on my whirlwind nature study adventure…the mangroves at Clam Pass Beach Park. My friend who lives in Naples was able to fit that into our day right at sunset. We walked part of the trail and then rode the shuttle the rest of the way…finding the sun just starting to set and people gathering to try to observe the infamous “green flash” at sunset. We soaked in the mangroves and I saw my first ever Blue jay (we have Scrub jays and Steller’s jays here in California).

Bald Cypress at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Florida

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to include some nature study and hiking into my trip to Florida. What a rich experience I had between the wildlife refuge, the beach time, and the time spent wandering the Florida swamps and mangroves.

I have already recorded my time in my nature journal….I did a quick sketch of the view from our window while in Florida and then finished it up at home with watercolors and details from my notes. I have the memories all tucked away in my heart and in a few good photos.

Would like to see some of Tricia’s Florida nature study images? Pop over to read her entry on her blog: Hodgepodge. While you are over there…check out her review of the Kia Optima Hybrid!

Kia Optima Hybrid Review

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Southern Oregon Beaches – Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand

Our recent trip to Oregon let us sample the different kinds of beaches there are along this section of the Pacific Coast. The coast of Southern Oregon has become our summer getaway of choice. We enjoy the break from the hot temperatures at home and we cooled off with the misty foggy days of the Oregon summer.

Would you like to see some of the beaches we visited along with some of the treasures we found to observe and record in our nature journals?

McVay Rock tidepools and rocks (6)

Let’s start off with the most southerly location we visited, a little gem of a beach with lots and lots of agates and pebbles, McVay Rock. This has become one of my favorite rock beaches and it has tidepools too! The boys enjoyed searching for the most colorful or interesting rocks. This was a great location to start our Outdoor Hour Challenge on Rocks. Although we didn’t examine any granite, we took advantage of the time to closely examine some other rocks.

Whaleshead Beach (16)

On the other side of Brookings, Oregon we spent some time exploring Whaleshead Beach. The sun was out and we walked the sand, climbed over rocks, and watched the sea birds flying.

Whaleshead Beach (13)
There were colorful flowers and grasses growing along the rocky cliffs. It hardly seems possible that this dudleya can grow right on the rocks but it does.

Pistol River (8)
This is a close-up of another beach we visited at the Pistol River in Oregon. It was early morning and we had the beach to ourselves. We had to walk over sand dunes and then over a flat area to get to the shore. There were lots and lots of empty shells…the birds must feast here when the time is right.

Pistol River (2)
Here is a view down the beach with the shorebirds in the distance poking their beaks in for a morning meal. We have friends that come here to go clamming but we were just on a refreshing beach walk as we traveled up the coast.

Bullards Beach Sunset Kite
Here is another beach we camped at on our trip, Bullards Beach near Bandon, Oregon. This image is in the evening and if you look closely you can see horses in the distance and a family having a bonfire up sheltered in the pile of driftwood.

Bullards Beach (11)
Here is another section of the beach early in the morning. Look at all that driftwood!

Bullards Beach lighthouse
This is the lighthouse at Bullards Beach and you can see the sandy dunes and grasses that border the actual shore. Behind the lighthouse is the Pistol River outlet which is where all the driftwood comes from during certain parts of the year.

Cape Arago (3)
Farther up the coast, we visited Cape Arago and Simpson Reef. It was a wet day but we braved the rain to observe the sea life down on the rocky islands. I had my binoculars and we were able to see sea lions resting on the rocks and in the water.

Rock and Shell Nature Journal (3)
Rocks and shells are rather difficult to draw in my nature journal. It is an exercise in slowing down and really looking at the object before you put your pencil or pen to the page.

Rock Shell Collection
We had a great time looking for rocks on this trip. Not much granite to look at but we did see many things to capture our interest and to look up in our field guides.

Just looking at these photos makes me want to turn around and go back to Oregon.

You can find other rock related challenges here on the Handbook of Nature Study blog.
Quartz Study
Sand and Soil
Salt Study

If you are interested in more of our Oregon Coast adventures, here are some links.

Oregon Coast Trail

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