Thursday, April 3, 2014

Beach Season Begins

I was happy to return to Silver Sands State Park this morning for the start of a new season. As I have for the past two summers, I'll be monitoring this beach again for Piping Plovers and other potential nesting shorebirds this year. This will actually be my last summer in Connecticut -- big changes are coming in the next few months -- and I plan to take full advantage of my proximity to the Long Island Sound while I still can.

Today was a perfect beach day: warm and sunny, and with plenty of spring-like things to see. I'm assuming these Ring-billed Gulls were feeling appropriately amorous, judging from their strange balancing act (which was accompanied by loud calls but no actual mating as far as I could see):

Behind the marshes next to the beach, a few Red Maples were just starting to bloom, looking particularly dramatic against the bright blue sky:

A pair of Mourning Doves walked right past me on the path. I've never noticed the splash of iridescent gold highlights on these birds' necks before, and it's kind of amazingly pretty:

(How is it possible that I've been keeping this blog for more than three years now, and this is the first time I've posted a picture of this common and placid bird? Mourning Doves clearly deserve more of my attention.)

In the fields at the back of the park, many of the bushes and trees had been stripped of their bark up to a couple of feet off the ground:

And a few minutes after I stopped to look at the bare trees (and to watch a couple of American Robins tussling in the grass), the culprits came bounding into the open:

These rabbits must have gotten hungry with all the snow we had this winter, but at least there's always bark to nibble, and they seem to be thriving now! A few of these creatures were chasing each other in and out of the underbrush, and I felt lucky to get to watch these wild bunnies being so active.

As I was driving out of the park at the end of my visit (no plovers yet), I came up behind a curious trio of pedestrians on the shoulder of the road:

Wild Turkey crossing:

How crazy and cool that we have these dinosaur-creatures just wandering around. Oh, you strange and awesome bird:

All in all, this morning was quite a wonderful start to a new season of beach visits. Hooray for warm weather, sun, and sand!

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