I saw my first Monarch butterfly of the year yesterday morning on the beach at Silver Sands State Park. And I do mean on the beach. I would've expected to see this creature on the milkweed plants that were blooming just a little ways away, but instead it was sucking up what must have been some good nutrients in the damp sand:
I'm always glad to see a Monarch, especially since this species' numbers have been declining steeply in recent years. And what a treat to see such vivid color on the beach (and from something other than washed-up garbage):
The clouds over the Long Island Sound were super dramatic pretty much all morning, with so many different layers and shapes and shades happening at once:
My iPhone's panoramic mode was able to capture some of the epic-ness of this scenery, and I think the result looks pretty cool (even if it's still not quite the same as being there, and the beach comes out all weird and curvy):
Two Willets were hanging around in the marsh (maybe working on a nest?). These medium-sized shorebirds are quite attractive with all their subtly barred feathers:
But their most distinctive features are their dramatic black-and-white wings. It's so cool to see these guys fly through the marsh:
A mother Mallard was shepherding her sizable brood of teenaged babies at the shore:
That duckling on the left looks smaller than all the others.... I wonder if it could've somehow joined this group from another clutch? Hmm.
Immature Herring Gulls were all over the beach. They're not the most handsome birds with their mottled plain-brown costumes, but they do cut some very impressive figures in flight:
Among all the handsome birds we have around here, not many do it better than Cedar Waxwings. These guys are just beyond sleek:
I don't actually know what's going on in this next picture, but what a pose! Cedar Waxwing, you are just cool:
(The pose in this picture actually reminds me of the time I saw a Northern Mockingbird spitting out seeds. Maybe that's what's going on here, or maybe the waxwing is just being extra punky and/or action-hero-ish. Either way works for me!)
Hooray for beautiful and interesting creatures!