Hi! Be advised, this is one of my very Nature Girl-Nerd posts, lol.
Well, it seems Ratty has moved!
Ratty is a marsh muskrat or possibly a nutria. I'm a little ambivalent about his presence in my dunes...Ratty is kind of like if your kid is the fat obnoxious bully on the middle school playground---It's your ugly pimply kid so you love him anyway. (Just for the record, my kids are always gorgeous and well-behaved! Really!) Point is, muskrats are indigenous herbivores: they are hardworking and shy; they do not carry germs or bite people; their diet is vegetarian, grassy roots mostly, including the invasive water hyacinth. BUT they look like huge fat subway rats, Norway rats I think? Bigger than a tomcat, eeew.
But Ratty is unique and interesting and I enjoy his presence since he washed ashore last year.
Imagine my pleasure when I found his new burrow and many footprints in the outer swale closest to the beach!
And these tiny bird footprints, below,--so very many!---are from the sanderlings, our ubiquitous little Arctic nesting sandpiper.
They gather here in flocks numbering in the thousands, fattening up for their final trip to the tundra north in May. This week's very high tides must have forced them up onto the higher sand here to sleep. Usually they remain as close to the water as psssible. The photo shows the large flock in flight, also my first pix shows more.
If a beachcomber is patient, observing footprints in the sand can tell them a lot! I've discovered tiny newborn turtles, spade-foot toads, rabbits and raccoons....If you don't have sand, watch the muddy spots in your yard. Or next winter, keep your eye out for tracks in the snow. If you have a science-minded child around, they can have fun identifying animal tracks using a simple nature guide, like those from Acorn Naturalists.
enjoy your world!
~~~~~~~gone to the beach