Today was my day to monitor for Piping Plovers and other shorebirds at Silver Sands State Park, so I spent my morning wandering on the beach. No plovers showed up, but as always, there were plenty of other things to see.
There was this Greater Yellowlegs, for instance, a funky shorebird that I'd never seen before:
And this cute little Savannah Sparrow foraging in the grass:
I learned recently that the Savannah Sparrow is a state-listed species in Connecticut (it's of "special concern"), so I was glad to see this little guy hopping around. Plus, how about that cool yellow eyeshadow?
Speaking of yellow, I watched this male American Goldfinch singing boldly from a tree near one of the paths:
I thought this guy was pretty bright, but he paled (literally) in comparison to one of his fellows in the tree next door:
Not every bird I encountered had yellow on it, of course (although I was doing pretty well there, wasn't I). A Downy Woodpecker was drilling into some dried reeds in the marsh (not where I'd expect to see a woodpecker!), and producing a weird clacking sound as the stems knocked together:
I wonder what tasty morsels she was finding in there.
A few male Red-winged Blackbirds made it quite clear that the park's boardwalk is part of their territory:
These birds are extremely active now, with the males flying around everywhere, calling and flashing their brilliant red shoulder patches. And the boardwalk's posts do make a great place to show off.
OK, OK, we get the message!
It wasn't just birds who were active, either. I think it must have been rush hour for the colony of Fiddler Crabs below the boardwalk -- the crabs were wandering all over the mud, picking up food, and stealing each others burrows. (Usually when I see these little creatures, they're basically just sitting there.) Several male crabs were squaring off in pairs, for what looked like brief but intense contests of who-has-the-bigger-claw:
(I just noticed that the two male crabs in this picture have their large claws on opposing sides. I wonder why some crabs might have a large left claw, and others a large right one....)
There's always something interesting going on at the beach!