Thursday, July 12, 2012

Egrets, Gulls, Crabs, and More

Yesterday's visit to Silver Sands State Park was great fun (as usual), and I ended up seeing lots of interesting creatures. The day started off with a surprise when I walked onto the boardwalk over the marsh and there were Snowy Egrets everywhere!

OK, so that's not the most number of Snowy Egrets anyone's ever seen, I'm sure, but I counted 18 birds in this one area, which is pretty significant compared to the two or three I usually see here. So many egrets!

Not only were there lots of Snowy Egrets, but they were extraordinarily active, too -- strutting around with their fancy crests raised and making their weird honking calls:

A few tussles even broke out while I was watching, with pairs of egrets dancing around and flying at each other:

I normally think of these birds as fairly calm (maybe even serene), so it was really interesting to see them showing off so much. I wonder if these are families of egrets that have come over from their nesting areas on nearby Charles Island.... I don't think I can know for sure, but it seems possible!

Down at the shore, on the tip of the half-submerged sandbar to Charles Island, a female Red-breasted Merganser was preening -- that's quite a beak you have, girl!

Also in attendance was a sleek Common Tern, its red-orange beak and legs practically glowing in the morning sun:

At another part of the shore, I watched some serious drama unfold when a Herring Gull pulled a large crab out of the shallow water (the crab is doing a pretty good rock impression at the gull's feet in this next picture):

The crab put up a valiant fight...

But the gull had the clear advantage with its sharp beak, and the crab didn't really stand a chance.

Poor crab, but that's just how things go.
"What, you got a problem? It's a predator-prey thing -- deal with it."

And there were interesting creatures away from the beach, too. The milkweed plants have practically all finished flowering by now, but that doesn't mean they're not still providing food for animals. This impressive mass of Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars (Euchaetes egle) was working hard to completely devour one milkweed plant (note the already-skeletonized leaves!):

Such fancy caterpillars, with those crazy tufts of hair! They're quite pretty individually:

And I kind of love the effect of all that fuzzy orange, black, and white when they're all together:

All in all, another fun day at the beach!

No comments:

Post a Comment