Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sanibel’s first snowy plover nest of the season staked

Sanibel’s first snowy plover nest of the season staked

A snowy plover chick and her eggs.

According to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), the first snowy plover nest of the season on Sanibel was staked on March 22 and, as of last Friday, there were two eggs. SCCF coordinates the monitoring of snowy plover nesting on the island.

Snowy plovers nest on the beach. SCCF stakes protective exclosures around snowy plover nests. People are requested not to enter the staked exclosures and keep dogs out as well. When snowy plovers are not moving, they are extremely well camouflaged. If a snowy plover is flushed from its nest, it takes very little time for the hot sun to damage the eggs.

The snowy plover is a state-listed, threatened species on Sanibel. The most recent estimate indicates that around 200 pairs of snowy plovers remain along the west coast of Florida, from the Panhandle through Cape Sable.

Snowy plover nesting season runs through August, and they can nest two or three times in one season.

For more information, visit SCCF's Web site at sccf.org/content/80/Snowy-Plover-Project.aspx.

SCCF is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed through environmental education, land acquisition, landscaping for wildlife, marine research, natural resource policy, sea turtle conservation and wildlife habitat management.

As part of the SCCF Marine Laboratory's work, real-time water quality data from the SCCF RECON (River, Estuary & Coastal Observing Network) sensors can be found online at www.recon.sccf.org. Community support through membership dues and tax-deductible contributions makes this work possible.

Historic Easter Sunrise Services moves to church campus

Historic Easter Sunrise Services moves to church campus

Due to the new plantings on the Sanibel Causeway, and the nesting season of the snowy plovers on the beaches of Sanibel, the Community Sunrise Service will be moved to the parking lot of Sanibel Community Church, located at 1740 Periwinkle Way.

On Easter Sunday, April 4 at 6:30 a.m., the morning air will be filled with songs of praise as hundreds gather to celebrate the risen Christ. There will be drama from local teens, as well as power songs from the men and women of Teen Challenge Rehabilitation Center.

Free hot chocolate and freshly ground organic coffee will be available for all. Everyone attending will receive a free audio New Testament. Children will receive the new audio "Kidz Bible."

Bring your lawn chair and bring a friend. For more information, call 472-2684 or visit us on the Web at www.sanibelchurch.com.

Maundy Thursday Service at SCC

On Thursday, April 1 at 8 p.m., the historic sanctuary on the campus of Sanibel Community Church will be transformed to an "upper room," where Christ will meet with His disciples to share in the new covenant meal.

With powerful music, insightful drama and a participation in the Lord's Supper, all will depart with a deeper appreciation of what Christ has done.

For more information, call 472-2684.

Easter Egg Hunt is Saturday

There will be games, fun food and lots of eggs to find! Join us at Sanibel Community Church on Saturday, April 3. All the fun and food begins at 11 a.m. We'll divide into age appropriate egg hunting groups beginning at 12:15 p.m.

Call 472-2684 for additional details.

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Adult classes offered this spring at Sanibel Sea School"

Adult classes offered this spring at Sanibel Sea School

Sustainable Seafood Seminar coming Monday

Seafood is a delicious source of lean protein, but current fishing practices are depleting the world's fish populations at an alarming rate. Join Sanibel Sea School to learn about environmental issues associated with consuming seafood and how you can choose seafood that is healthy for both you and the environment.

Whether you're a local or a visitor, come enjoy wine, learning and good company!

March 22 - Sweet Melissa's Caf - 6 p.m. - $50

Chef Melissa Talmage will prepare an exquisite meal centered on delicious sustainable seafood that is healthy for the planet. Admission includes wine. Register early!

For more information, call 472-8585. Sanibel Sea School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to marine conservation through experiential education
This spring, Sanibel Sea School is excited to offer a 12-week series of adult classes titled "The Twelve Big Questions."

On Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 4 p.m., we invite you to find answers to some very interesting marine questions. This week (Wednesday, March 24), we will collect algae from around the island and discuss some of the issues associated with algae in our oceans and on our beaches. We hope you'll join us for an afternoon of fun and learning with other island residents who are curious about the ocean!

March 24 - Algal Blooms: "What's all the fuss about a little algae?"

We will spend the first part of the afternoon collecting algae samples from Sanibel's beaches, and we will bring our samples back to the lab for identification. We will talk about microalgae, macroalgae, and harmful algal blooms. We'll also learn about factors that contribute to algal blooms and discuss the environmental, economic and social issues associated with algae in our oceans and on our beaches.

You can attend just one week or all 12. For more detailed course descriptions, visit sanibelseaschool.wordpress.com. Classes are $55 each, or $50 each for four or more. To register, e-mail Liz@sanibelseaschoool.org or call us at 472-8585.

Lily & Co. Easter egg hunt dangles 'lots of carats'

Lily & Co. Easter egg hunt dangles 'lots of carats'

Jeweler to hide $30,000 worth of diamonds, gems

Children are invited to find "lots of carats" during an Easter egg hunt at Lily & Co. Jewelers from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 3, store co-owners Dan Schuyler and Karen Bell announced on Monday.

There will be 1,200 candy-filled eggs hidden around the Lily & Co. property, with 50 of the eggs holding a certificate representing loose diamonds, gemstones and pearls valued at a total of $30,000.

Children ages one to seven will be able to hunt for the eggs from 2 to 2:30 p.m. An Easter costume contest with prizes for the best costume will happen between 2:30 and 3 p.m., and open hunting season for 7 to 12 year olds on the remaining eggs will occur from 3 to 4 p.m.

Additional activities include refreshments provided by Bailey's General Store and piece by famed designer Marya Dabrowski will be raffled off to benefit Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) of Sanibel. All are encouraged to bring a non-perishable item to benefit the families assisted by F.I.S.H of Sanibel.

"We're also expecting a visit from a furry friend," said Schuyler. "Not just our usual canine's, but a hippity, hoppity kind of guy with long ears and a cotton tail."

Lily & Co. store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information about Lily & Co., call 472-2888 or visit www.lilyjewelers.com.

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sanibel pair publishes new book detailing everything Disney World has to offer

Sanibel residents and co-authors Mike and Julie Neal.

WDW insider tips from Mike and Julie Neal

Get to a park before it opens. The first two hours are precious, with short lines nearly everywhere.

Make your dining reservations early, a few days or more if possible. You can make reservations online at disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.

Use the free Fastpass automated reservation system. It can save literally hours of time waiting in line. And Disney doesn't advertise it, but the end time for using your Fastpass is the end of the day, not the time of the hour window printed on your Fastpass.

Don't try to do everything. It's impossible. Relax and have fun!

After literally hundreds of trips and thousands of photographs, island residents Mike and Julie Neal know Walt Disney World inside and out.

In fact, they probably have more experience from their frequent visits to the Orlando theme park complex in researching the latest edition of their book, entitled "The Complete Walt Disney World 2010," than most of the cast members and Imagineers that work there!

Released earlier this year to book stores worldwide, the Neal's newest edition follows a successful run of guidebooks detailing the nearly 700 rides, attractions, restaurants, shops and hotels in an around the most visited park on the planet.

But what's the biggest difference between publishing a new book and publishing a new edition?

"The obvious answer is the amount of time it takes," Julie Neal said. "The first edition of the Disney book, which came out in 2007, took us a full five years to finish. Each new edition takes between four and six months to publish, although we do research and photography year-round. One of the best things about producing a yearly guidebook is that we can listen to feedback and make the book better each year."

However, coming up with a few new ideas for every book and keeping track with all of the changes that happen at Walt Disney World is not without its challenges.

"With Walt Disney World as our subject, keeping up with the myriad changes is a constant issue," she added. "We also have a hard time hitting our publishing deadline; we always want more time to tweak our writing or add another photo."

For the most part, Julie writes the text of the books while Mike is responsible for the photography. And with more than 550 full-color images included within the latest version of their guidebook, that keeps the Neals in the Orlando area almost as long as the time they spend on Sanibel.

As they have done in past editions, "The Complete Walt Disney World 2010" provides up-to-date information on new and refurbished attractions at the parks, Downtown Disney shopping area and partner hotels, which seem to change with every visit they make.

"One big change is the new emphasis on interactive experiences for guests," said Julie. "Disney is focusing more and more on having guests be a part of the show, such as in the street party attractions like Block Party Bash at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! in Magic Kingdom. In both cases, guests are encouraged to join the characters and cast members in the street to dance."

Another example Neal noted is the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at Epcot, where guests use a cell-phone-like "Kimmunicator" to trigger hidden effects in a secret-agent scavenger hunt.

"Another change is the spotlight on Disney characters, with more and more opportunities for guests to meet their favorites and get autographs and photos," she added. "One of the newest characters, Tinker Bell, has her own meet-and-greet spot called Pixie Hollow, with wait times usually exceeding an hour."

So, what makes Walt Disney World such a great destination for residents of Sanibel and Captiva?

"Walt Disney World is perfect for island residents because it is so different from here," said Neal. "It's like a combination of the two places adds up to the ultimate experience. Islanders can go to Disney for a dose of the world's biggest and best choreographed fun, and then come back home to our peace and quiet. It's really the best of both worlds."

But having visited Walt Disney World several hundred times per year (including more than 1,400 visits total), Julie explained that the theme parks offer her something new nearly each time she has passed through the opening gates.

"I wondered if I would grow tired or bored with going to Walt Disney World after so many trips, but instead familiarity has made me appreciate the place more," she said. "It's like an old friend. And I keep discovering new little gems I hadn't noticed before."

For example, Neal explained, on Soarin' in Epcot, guests can faintly hear a voice that sounds like it's coming from another guest yelling out "Catch anything?" to a fisherman onscreen. Another example: On Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom, painted on the exit ramp's moving walkway, "shoeprints" that indicate where to step consist of a normal right shoe and a peg-leg left mark.

As for her favorite attractions at "The House of Mouse," Neal offered some definitive picks.

"At Magic Kingdom, I love PhilharMagic, which is Disney's best 3-D movie celebrating the best Disney songs. At Epcot is Soarin,' which replicates the sensation of flying. Disney's Hollywood Studios has the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which always succeeds at being Disney's creepiest and most thrilling ride. And at Animal Kingdom - my favorite park - I love the animal trails and the Festival of the Lion King, Disney's best live show."

And if Walt Disney World weren't the happiest place on Earth, the Neals wouldn't keep on going and going and going.

"The Complete Walt Disney World 2010" ($24.95 MSRP) is available for purchase online at Amazon.com as well as at island and area book stores.