Beach Watching

Before I start: Big hey to Lindi, and tell your mom to send me your address!

I don’t head over to the beach every day, not even every other day, but I try to get there at least once a week. It’s my reward for living here. :) And for working, and for getting out and exercising. And every time I go to the beach, there’s something new to see.

Some days, it’s the cool patterns the waves make as they pull back from the shore when there are little shells and stones in the sand. Some days, it’s all the open-but-complete scallop-type shells scattered in just one spot on the beach. Last week, the beach was pretty much swept clean. All the seaweed that had been littering the sand was gone, no shells, no rocks, just sand.

This week, the seaweed was back, except it was a different kind of seaweed. The other stuff I think was sargasso–no roots, crinkly leaves, and tiny grape-looking…grape things. The stuff this week had roots and thick fleshy stems. I think the stems had arrow-head-shaped leaves on the ends–some of the stems still had leaves on them. But mostly, there were just roots and stems and some places where the stems thickened into bulby-looking things. A few of the stems were still green, but mostly, they were brown.

And there were rocks on the beach. Very few shells, but lots and lots of rocks of all sorts, including some concrete chunks. There’s a concrete driveway/ramp I walk by between a couple of the jetties that’s been undermined a pretty good distance beneath, so maybe the concrete came from there, but who knows? (these jetties are built about every 100 yards, made of huge chunks of pink granite, to break up the waves) Not me. This just seems to be rock week. I haven’t seen any more of those pink barnacle shells since Humberto roared by, but we’re not even getting many mussel/scallop shells now.

And of course, there are the birds. It’s amazing what some of these poor birds survive. Last week, there was a sandpiper (at least I think that’s what they were–they were as tall as stilts, or maybe a little taller, and speckled brown with a brown beak instead of being black and white with orange beaks–I left my bird ID book back in the panhandle…) that walked with a funny, kicking-out gait on one side. It had a little trouble keeping up with the other sandpipers, and flew a lot more when trying to get away from me as I walked down the beach. (They always seem to run ahead of me down the beach, instead of going to one side or the other.) I finally decided that it had broken that left leg some time or other, and it hadn’t healed right, so he had an odd kick in its gait.

Earlier this week, I saw a couple of one-legged seagulls. Actually, they had two legs, but their feet were messed up. One was missing a foot completely. I know it didn’t just have one leg tucked up under it, but was actually missing a foot because it was standing there with two legs dangling down. One leg just stopped before it got to the foot part. And when it walked, it would put its poor little stump down on the sand. (Mostly, it flew, but apparently I didn’t disturb it that much.) The other handicapped seagull had both legs too, but one of its feet had been mangled someway. Or maybe it had the seagull version of a club foot. Instead of the webbed triangle shape of its other foot, the bad foot was a kind of wad of web at the end of its leg. Poor baby. But they both looked fat and sassy. They still had their wings, after all.

Today, the footless seagulls were apparently out shopping for breakfast elsewhere, because all the seagulls I saw had both feet. Today, I saw a snowy egret fishing on the beach. The egrets usually fish over on the bayside of the island, because the water’s quieter there, and further inland, it’s shallower. I thought at first that this one was a bit nervous of the waves, but as I watched, it stood right at the edge of the water, intent on the incoming wave, until it pounced. I wasn’t sure it caught anything until I saw it swallow the tiny fish. So apparently egrets will fish in the surf too. It was so cool to watch.

(The picture is of an egret I saw over at Pier 21, near the “pirate ship”. It was fishing off the chain–I didn’t get a picture after it spread its wings for balance…but that was cool too.)

I have noticed that the younger gulls will fly away from me before the older ones will. Most of the mature gulls just saunter off while the youngsters are flapping out to sea. How can I tell they’re young, you ask? (I know you’re not asking, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) Because young laughing gulls have brownish feathers and adults have gray ones. The adults lose their black courting caps in the winter when their heads all go more-or-less white, but they’ll grow their black heads again in the spring when they have to look spiffy for the opposite sex. Yeah, I’m a geek. My sister got me into bird-watching, and I’m still stuck.

So, back into the writing. Gonna get my 25 pages done on Thunder and start working on…something else. Not sure what yet. Read my first book this month–a Roberta Gellis I’d been looking for, Enchanted Fire, about Orpheus and Eurydice. I have all her other Greek god myth books, but this one… Have it now. Enjoyed it a lot.

Thanks so much for keeping me updated about where you find my books. Y’all are the best.

3 Responses to Beach Watching

  1. What, everybody doesn’t know how to tell a young gull from an adult one?


  2. LOL, Catie! I don’t know if this is true for ALL gulls, but it is for the laughing gulls. (They really do sound like they’re laughing when they call.)

    Herring gulls, like you have on the Auld Sod, always have white heads… in case you really wanted to know…

  3. gulls freak me out just a little … not really sure why

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