Thursday, April 23, 2009

End of April

The high surf and onshore breeze is bringing a wealth of new beans to the shores of Matagorda. Who said Padre Island has the best beaning in Texas?

Firm sands along the lower strand line.

This sea heart ccould be easily missed from the covering of seaweed.

Here are the beans - 12 sea hearts, 14 sea coconuts (many left behind) 16 hamburgers, 4 sea purses, 6 starnut palms, 1 laurelwood, one tropical almond, one candlenut, 1 butternut and 1unidentified acorn-like nut.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Stormy Beaning

The weather this weekend was tricky to say the least. Friday was predicted to be unsettled and Saturday was supposed to be stormy. Both came true but the effects were not as bad in Matagorda as further inland.

Our beach adventure took place on Saturday morning and there didn't seem to be many folks on the beach when we arrived. The surf was up and we could see some fresh wrack as we headed in from the access road. We only went about 1/2 a mile and decided to get out and walk instead of driving too far down.

The black mangrove seeds have turned from the usual green to a glossy brown and keep your eyes guessing as they look promising when you first see them. These seeds sprout but don't grow this far north along the coast. Just a little to the south there are some nice mangrove flats that I'm itching to explore.

This shot shows the wrack line. The seaweed is the marker but there is plenty of flotsam mixed in as well. This part of the beach has been worked over with a motor grader during Spring Break & Easter but there has been enough of a tide earlier in the week to bring in some new treasures.

This young beachcomber stayed out in the sun a little too long. It may be time to take a break!

We found several beans but both of us had a similar experience of walking by a good bean and having the other pick it up later. Tracy picked up a nice starnut palm right near where I thought had searched with a fine toothed comb.

The shot above shows how close you can come and still miss seeing a good bean. I call this the "Bypassed Beach Burger". That's Tracy's footprint next to the bean.

I figure between the two of us we found most of what was there.

Here is the take for about 2 hours of searching. The outside ring is made up of sea coconuts after I hit them with the dremel and some sandpaper. There are three palms - the pointy one is a starnut and the other two above it are cohune palms. Tracy found a seaheart (in the middle) and surrounding it are several hamburger beans and one sea purse.

I also found another piece of what I think is a fossilized bone (left). It is identical to the one I found earlier except the shape is different. Both are porous and have bone-like characteristics. I'm going to keep looking and maybe one day I'll have enough collected to figure out what they came from.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bean Hunting

It's Easter weekend and the beach will likely be busy with traffic and people.

We decided to try our luck on Friday afternoon instead.

Tracy had the eye for the good beans.

She found a Mary's Bean, two hamburgers (one red & 1 brown) two starnut palms, some sea coconuts, a blisterpod, and a white walnut (butternut) along with some of the more common ones like black walnuts, pecan, and water hickorys.

I found one seaheart, some sea coconuts, and a few common beans but couldn't seem to get on the trail for the "shiny's".

Here is Tracy's crucifix bean (Mary's Bean).

The other side showing the oval attachment scar (hilum).

Here are the two Mary's beans together. Mine is on the left and a Tracy's on the right.

This side shows the distinctive marking from which the bean derives it's nickname.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Upper Strand

Spring Breakers have left the beach and the recent rains have leveled the driving surface making a smooth path for some bean and shell hunters.

After some quick and unsuccessful searching along the lower strand, I headed up to my usual spot behind the dunes. The sand has been blowing and the cattle have tromped through the wrack line but I managed to find a few keepers.

Two red hamburgers, one prickly palm, and a tiny water hickory were a fitting reward for a short search. As I was coming back to meet Tracy, I noticed some beans in the upper strand.

Here is a freshly stranded hamburger as seen from above.

This is a sea coconut in the upper strand. You can see the Jeep in the background and the surf to the left. This strand line is about 100 yards from the water and represents the latest high water mark. You can see some of the seaweed that came in with the high tide.

Here is the total take - quite a mixture of sea beans!

Tracy found these two sea hearts but she was looking hard for a hamburger!

The burgers: two reds from the dunes and four brown ones from the upper strand.

These are the locals - two black walnuts and several hickorys - even one with the husk intact.

We saw several sea coconuts besides these that were fresh but cracked. Most of these will polish up and retain their shape with out cracking out.

Three prickly palm the largest of which is the best one ever.

This variety includes a laurelwood, a blister pod and some small seeds.

This is the real find - a Mary's bean (Merremia discoidesperma).

Named after the Virgin Mary, it is also called the crucifixion bean because of a cross etched on one side of the seed. This is a first for me and one I have been looking for. In addition to being one of the most unique and unmistakable drift seeds, it also has the greatest documented drift range of any species on earth.(15,000 miles)

The white scale looks like an egg case. It comes from a little-known beach vine in the morning-glory family growing in a small area of Central America, parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Hispanola.
This is what it looks like after cleaning.

The seed has some vine-like wrappings that cause a cross shaped indentation to form as the seed develops. There is much folklore surrounding this bean.

I'll be searching the Upper Strand again soon!