a beach stroll with a surprise

Sunday afternoon, we timed it perfectly between rain squalls. china_beach-5710

We walked 1.5 miles each way before the next rain squall arrived. Again it was perfect weather for a beach walk.

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A mile and a half of beach all to ourselves with only a set of tracks left by a pair of horses on this lonely stretch.

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On the way back, Eric stopped me because he noticed something in the horse tracks…

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Not being entirely sure and not wanting to spook the creatures, I snapped off a couple of shots from a distance.

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When they didn’t seem at all bothered, I moved in a bit closer and used a piece of driftwood to brace the camera.

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This is the best I could do since it was getting rather dark with the clouds rolling in. Turns out these are Snowy Plovers, a protected species. They are so tiny and cute. Apparently they had decided that the horse tracks were the perfect spot to snuggle in for the night.

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength. 
Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

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44 thoughts on “a beach stroll with a surprise

  1. Gunta, where’s the “love” button? Wow, you drew me right in and gave me a terrific surprise. They’re gorgeous little creatures, doing what comes naturally – adapting to the environment.

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  2. Gunta you would not believe how many miles of sand I have hiked, how many years I have tried, to see the snowy plover. They are nearly impossible to find anymore, as so many beaches, as you noted, are taken over by people and dogs. The protected beaches are such an important tool for their survival. This photo is incredible, it took my breath away. Great post!

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    • Eric is my fabulous bird spotter. I doubt I would have noticed the plovers, or perhaps even disturbed them if it hadn’t been for him. We had been on a mission to see if the recent storms had blown out a sand bar at New River to allow the salmon up river to their spawning ground. The sand bar was still definitely there. I suspect those miles of beach were so deserted because we had to get our feet wet to cross a creek to get to the beach. (Another sand bar creating a lagoon?) It doesn’t hurt that miles of that beach are bordered by cranberry farms rather than motels. From March 15 to Sept 15 the volunteers stationed at the parking lot/trailhead to the beach don’t even allow people down to the beach where they have the nests fenced off to protect the breeding pairs. They do have telescopes set up for folks to look. But most of all I think it was the horse tracks that the tiny creatures had settled in that made them easier to spot. That was pure serendipity!

      It makes me very happy that you enjoyed the post!

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      • Oh, I was so thrilled, Gunta, that I showed it to Athena. We double-checked the field guide, too, and confirmed that they were the snowy, and they were. This was not only an amazing find (go Eric), and photo series (go Gunta) but absolutely heartwarming to know of this place in the world where the snowies are loved, protected, and thriving. Thanks for your great comment and background here, too, Gunta. 😀

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    • Having run into these darling little “peeps”, I started reading up on them a bit and discovered that they’re a threatened species. The beach where we found them is protected from March through September. Apparently they are adapted to using even human footprints to nest in. They are vulnerable to natural predators such as falcons, owls, raccoons, and coyotes. Add humans and their dune buggies and dogs, etc to that and the poor things almost don’t stand a chance.

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    • I likely would have missed them if Eric hadn’t spotted them and kept me from accidentally chasing them off. This beach is a protected area from March through September when the Plovers are nesting in the sand. Volunteers even set up to keep predators away from the nesting sites. It was utterly amazing to get so close to these darling little birds without (apparently) disturbing them.

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  3. What a fantastic sight! Before I read your words, I saw things in the horse hoofs and wondered what they were. How funny and adorable! So great to capture them on camera, Gunta.

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