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Summer 2011 Page 21ISLAND FUN & REALTY

Each visit to Marco's beach is unique and every day is different. In fact, Marco's beach is really three different beaches joined into one. South beach with the rocks and sandy cove beyond, great for fi shing and sitting, the middle beach in front of the hotels and condos, great for walking, sitting and bathing and Tigertail with its unspoiled beauty and extraordinary wildlife.Weather permitting we try and walk on the beach most days and mix it up between all three areas. One evening in late May with a super low tide, we had one of our best walks on Tigertail, seeing things even we'd never seen before.What's that up ahead?Having just set foot off the walkway from the parking lot, we were watching herons and Ibis feeding in the shallow lagoon when we noticed something small and dark crossing the track ahead. We managed to in-tercept it after a quick sprint (by me not the animal) and later identifi ed it as a Florida box turtle. Very pretty bright yellow stripes on its shell. After a quick photoshoot, off it went towards the lagoon. Also on this stretch of path we saw hundreds of fi ddler crabs that heard or saw us ap-proaching and made a beeline for their tiny holes in the sand. They are so named because the movement of the small claw from the ground to mouth when feeding, resembles the motion of someone moving a bow across a fi ddle (the larger claw).I spy ospreyAs we reached the beach proper, we were lucky enough to come across an Osprey sitting on a beach sign, dining on a mullet. He was totally oblivious of us and allowed Debbie to take some great shots as he used his strong curved talons and beak to pull apart his dinner. Amazingly, he was still there fi nishing his meal on our return a couple of hours later.The lower the betterLow tide is a great time to walk on this particular part of Marco's beach as it is possible to see just how alive the beach is and what occupies all those shells washed up on the shore. It is nice to fi nd shells to collect and take home, but it's even cooler to see live, healthy creatures hanging out in their own little world. A really low tide exposes parts of the seashore we normally don't get to see. (Unusually low tides are marked in our tides chart on page 88.)Some of the other things we saw that night...The black skimmer (a species of special concern) is the only bird species in the USA that has a larger lower mandible (bill) than upper. They feed by grace-fully skimming their lower bill through water only a few inches deep where small fi sh are caught unaware. They can fi sh by feel during dawn, dusk and at night. Their chicks