I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Birds Are Back!

Hi! I am so thrilled!
The shorebirds returned on Saturday---

...a whole week early, as St-Patrick's Day is their estimated day of arrival.

I think my pleasure comes from a childhood filled with nature walks and birdwatching. My mom was not one to have us sit inside after school; she got us out for long walks filled with observation , fresh air and learning. She always watched for, and carefully noted , the first robin each spring [hence one of my nicknames...]; and we watched the brown frozen garden daily for the first daffodil shoots, for the first snowdrops and crocus. And her pleasure never waned, she was as pleased by a late January witch hazel bloom at age, well, whatever---as she'd been when she was a twenty-something stay at home mom.

So....Friday when I went for my walk---not a single bird, not even a gull or two. Then Saturday:

The Oyster Catchers were flying in, in pairs and small groups of three or five.

I love these birds, they are so big and cute, with their black and white tuxedo-like plumage and the comic counterpoint of long orange bills and big pink legs.

The same pairs apparently come each year. The nests are always within a few feet of the previous years' locations...

And also on Saturday, in the high beach near the dunes were telltale little scurry-scurry footprints of the piping plovers. They too return each year and nest in exactly the same spot.

By Sunday the plovers were feeding on the beach. They are not as shy as the oyster catchers who take a few weeks to remember me and my camera. The plovers I think rely on their natural camouflage. Yes, he is here...can you find him?

A closer look, both pix he is exactly in the center of the photo. The plovers are tiny, sparrow-sized...grey and white and chubby, with big black eyes and black neck ring. They are invisible until they run---their mad dashes are an out of synch motion that attracts one's eyes.

Sadly, again, their early arrival is clashing with the sand movers. I feel so sad, because here is already a try-out nest, doomed to be plowed under early today.

 and another...

I marked the nests with a driftwood fence, but I couldn't find the wildlife officers to alert them. perhaps the  huge earthmover avoided the nesting area? I doubt it, but cannot quite see this section of the beach from my windows.

The oyster catchers too were nest hunting in the lower dune areas. Here are footprints, along with those of some chasing animal! The birds's footprints are at the bottom, the line at the top is something following---a fox or feral cat? A Chihuahua? Can't tell for sure....

And ironically, fallen here before the plows...

the carefully posted signs from last year, all about the plowers.

Too bad. Each year there are fewer. Once upon a time we'd have as many as 16 plover nests, last year only three pairs stayed and raised chicks. I noted at least five nests that the sand plows destroyed in early pre-egg laying stage.

But these birds are survivors. As are we all...



~~~~gone to the beach

at the end of my hike,
an early spring fog bank rolls in, oddly from the north...

self porttrait with washed ashore clamshells