Ooops – Johnny was late . . .
We’ve seen few shore birds from August until now – in fact, on most weekly walks we see only one or two. last week we did see – quite unusual in my experience – an even dozen Horned Grebes off the southwest beach and a couple more today -as well as White-winged Scooters.
But I felt really lucky when we spotted this flock of Dunlins at the waters edge more than 100 feet away. They kept putting on a heck of a flying display, but I didn’t have my Rebel and long lens, so I didn’t try to photograph it. It was the usual incredible flock flight where everyone wheels and turns in the low-morning sunlight presenting just a dazzling performance of aerobatics and formation flying. “Eat your heart out, Blue Angels,” was Don’s comment – plus a query about how the heck do they communicate with one another?
They flew for an unusually long time, eventually landing – well several times – back on the beach in front of us. though we were along way off I wondered if we were disturbing them because every time they landed they would be facing us – all of them. Don wondered out loud how close we could get, so I started walking forward with my small Casio camera. And that was the second thing that made my day! They didn’t move. They seemed absolutely oblivious to me. I swear I could have walked up and touched them if I didn’t mind getting my feet wet. I did mind, so I stopped maybe 10 feet away and we just communed. I looked at some of the individuals using the 15X50IS Canon’s I had just bought on the used market. Incredible. I stood there for along time – and so did they. Oh individuals moved, but for the most part they seemed to be taking notes, or meditating, or maybe getting a briefing for the next flight. In a funny way they felt like a single organism – and maybe they are in some sense – and for a few precious moments I felt like I had a bit part in their little drama. Then they flew off and didn’t return.
Oh – if you’re wondering how Gooseberry did during Sandy, it was the usual – lots of rocks on the causeway which right now you can’t drive over – and what I call the “butterfly trail” at the south end is now covered on its east side by tons of rocks washed up from the beach making it uncomfortable to walk. In other words, not much damage – it’s a rugged little island with some seriously high ground that the storms don’t touch.