Will we beat the rain, or won't we...? Working outside often requires some gambling with Mother Nature. She was kind to us this morning as we fit our full Tuesday Tweets in before the rains began. It was a tad quiet as we started out over the salt marsh and there were definitely plenty of slick spots from the remaining ice. Small snowy icebergs were scattered all over the marsh and they had done some damage to the phragmites (tall invasive reed grass) at the beginning of the trail. The storms of the seasons truly shape the Cape and often in dramatic ways. Yes, we travel this same trail twice a month, but each walk is different and we never really know who we'll see or hear.
The shore was quiet as well and it was close to dead low tide when we arrived. The shell fishermen were busy out on the flats. The fog was approaching from the southwest, but we were bundled up and had already squished through the mud. You can't go birdwatching in footwear you mind getting messy, you just won't have as good a time. There were a few distant gulls we could see, and one of the Bird Nerds spotted a flock of Brants hundreds of feet out on the sand bar. It was not a walk full of birds this morning, though we did have a great surprise...
As we entered back into the woodlands of Wing Island, a big blob up in a tree caught my eye. I figured it was a nest at first, but I spied it through my binoculars anyway. I saw fur. I went to another angle to check this thing out, and I spotted a fuzzy ear, and a striped brown and black tail. An Eastern Raccoon (!!!) enjoying a morning snooze. This critter never raised her/his head, even with us making a fuss about 40 feet away from the prime nap spot about 25 feet up on some strong pitch pine branches. I get excited about all creatures, and a raccoon for me, was a big deal.
We both saw and heard a few finale birds as we were just getting back to the museum: an American Goldfinch in his winter plumage and a Northern Flicker. See... we just never know who will show up. You should join us someday! (double click photos to enlarge)
Great Black-backed Gull
|Northern Cardinal - male|
|Frozen Salt Hay on the salt marsh. We wondered if it was extra white|
due to frozen salt.
|Icy chunks still littered across the salt marsh|
|We could see the fog rolling in from the south east. It was such a peaceful walk this morning.|
|One of the museum's information signs has taken a beating with this last storm.|
|Much like underwater photos, you don't get the full color appreciation that we were able to see in this photo.|
I realize the camera I was using on this day also has its own limitations. Even in winter, there are lovely shades of nature.
|Bird Nerds on Mammal Watch!|
|I have seen an Eastern Raccoon on a bird walk on Wing Island before but it was YEARS ago.|
They were both doing the same thing though... having a deep sleep morning nap.
|Looking southward at the back of the museum. Notice all of the tall reeds (Phragmites) on the right in front of the blue Green Head Fly box. Those reeds used to be all across this section of the marsh, but the icy bay waters crushed so many!|
|Can you spot the American Goldfinch?|
|There he is!|