shells, seaweed, feathers

6.10.21 ~ herring gull, second year ~ Eastern Point

The morning after the heat wave was over we couldn’t wait to get out of the house and take a walk at the beach. I’m done with hiking in the woods for the summer. I managed to get poison ivy again last week, even after being very very careful on our last ramble. I swear it floats in the air in June. Fortunately this outbreak is not as bad as the one I had last year.

Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.

~ Mary Oliver
(It Was Early)

mourning dove

I was very surprised to see a couple of mourning doves on the breakwater. I’ve never seen them at the beach before. And I only saw the one herring gull, looking like he might be in the middle of molting. Later on the walk we saw an abundance of feathers on the rocks and floating in the water. On this day, too, there seemed to be a colorful seaweed salad floating just under the surface of the water.

growing out of a crack in the rock

The belief that nature is an Other, a separate realm defiled by the unnatural mark of humans, is a denial of our own wild being.
~ David George Haskell
(The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors)

While we were noticing everything and anything in the water we heard a familiar bird call in the distance and then a couple of American oystercatchers flew into view!!! No pictures because they kept flying in circles around the area and whenever they went to land they disappeared behind the rocks. I do hope they are going to make a nest there like they did back in 2014. That was the last and only summer we saw them here. Click here if you’d like to see the pictures: oystercatchers!

The light must have been just right and my arm must have been steadier than usual because for some reason I got some halfway decent pictures of a cormorant. Which isn’t saying much. They’re too far away and have frustrated my attempts to photograph them for years. This one had a bit of a personality and seemed different than the others.

double-crested cormorant

I have started on a new drug to manage my radiation proctocolitis symptoms and am hopeful it will make things easier for me, perhaps even get me to the point where I will feel comfortable traveling to visit our grandchildren. We’ll see. My wonderful gastroenterologist is retiring. 🙁 I will see her one last time in July. She assures me, though, that she is leaving me in good hands.

Had a wonderful weekend visiting with my sister — the talking went on forever. 🙂 I hadn’t seen her in person since December, and that was on a walk outside, six feet apart, and with masks on. What a blessing to lounge around the house and catch up. Living in the present moment.

And the grandchildren are planning another trip up here in August!!!

20 thoughts on “shells, seaweed, feathers”

  1. I wish I was sharing the end of the heat wave Barbara with you. I planned to go to a bigger park this morning, but the heat, humidity and dew points were oppressive, so I went to Council Point Park and called it a morning. We will be shedding a few degrees next week, but the forecaster said “good news … low 80s next week!” That’s good news!?!? I’m hoping to catch up a little here in Reader before another storm in the early evening. I don’t think I can catch up everything unfortunately. I like your collection of shore photos here and I didn’t realize the gull was molting; I thought he dunked his head in the water. I’ve never had a close-up shot of cormorant. I recognized him right away – they remind me of vampires flinging open their coat when they dry their wings. 🙂 I have to go look at the oystercatchers. If memory serves me right, they are the birds with the orange rings around their eyes and bright orange feet. Andy Finnegan sometimes features them in his blog. I think I’ll traipse alongside the forest if possible this Summer. Poison ivy, plus the rains are making bogs out of forests and the mosquitoes are all over … and it’s not even (technically) Summertime yet. Sigh. Also, we have a tick infestation due to the mild Winter. No Brood X Cicadas here yet … I just Googled and looks like your state will miss out on those bugs. I hope you can find a comfortable way to make the trip to see your grandchildren as you strive to get back to a normal routine – the roads and highways with their ruts and potholes don’t always make the driving smooth. Great you saw your sister and another visit from the grandkids. Life is good.

    1. So sorry that heat wave is messing up you plans, Linda! The past couple of days here have been on the chilly side, which we welcome, but we decided to skip two outdoor music nights because of the cool temps. Yesterday we went to visit a cemetery in the afternoon and I still needed a jacket! One has to be so flexible learning to adapt to these climate change swings… The gull was also dunking his head in the water. 🙂 I just guessed he was molting because of the feathers we found all over the place and because of the recent heat wave? Who knows? The cormorants are cool but not very photogenic, kind of like crows! Mosquitoes and ticks in the woods, sand fleas at the beach, sometimes I wonder what it is about nature that I love so much. 😉 Summer is NOT my favorite season! Thankfully no cicadas here! I hear they smell terrible after they die and start rotting away… The new drug seems to be helping so far with no side effects. This is day 6. I have a glimmer of hope!

      1. After two storms overnight, we are supposed to have rain most of Monday, then a three- or four-ay reprieve which they now say will be in the low 80s. The ducks will be molting soon and in their eclipse phase, pulling feathers and exhibiting bare spots, then their new plumage looks like that of female Mallards. The coromorants are a bit homely with those long beaks with the hook on the end of them and they. I’m no fan of Summer for the intense heat, volatile storms, nor the bugs. Those ugly cicadas were due in late May and for sure by June. They can cruise right on out of here in my opinion. I’m glad to see the new drug is helping you – even better if no side effects. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you Barbara.

        1. Thank you, Linda. 🙂
          I guess you’ll have to settle for the low 80s for your break from the heat. Sigh… It rained all day yesterday and it was welcomed because it was needed. I looked up gull molting and found this:
          “Gull has one partial and one complete molt per year. The first and second partial molts span up to 7 or 8 months, subsequent prealternate molts about 4 to 6 months. The complete prebasic molt spans 5-6 months.”
          Sounds like molting for them is an ongoing process.
          Have you seen or heard any cicadas yet? I thought it was kind of funny when they delayed the president’s trip to Europe by getting into the engines of his plane. Nature has a way of reminding us we’re not in control!

          1. That’s a lot of molting and molting takes a lot out of birds. I know from our parakeets and canaries, that the whole molting process left them very lethargic for weeks, sometimes three months, until they began to talk/sing again. I’ve not seen any cicadas so far. I’m going to head to the River tomorrow or Thursday before the heat returns full force and the rainy day Friday to see if I can find Mayflies. Hope I am successful; also hope none land on me!

          2. I’ve never (knowingly) seen Mayflies before, although I’ve seen them on TV. It must be a quite a sight to see!

  2. Sorry about your PI, I had a case in March from pruning shrubs. I usually use jewelweed to swab the site as soon as I recognize the itchy bumps, but alas, it doesn’t start growing until May. If used early on, it cures it within a day. I had to let it run its course, alas. Ever use it? Just split open the stalk and swab the area several times a day. I pick a few stalks and keep them handy in the fridge.
    I hope your oystercatchers nest… that would be exciting. We’re enjoying lots of birds nesting in and around our yard… non-stop action all day long!

    1. Thank you, Eliza. I never heard of jewelweed before so I looked it up and will try to keep an eye out for it on my walks. Maybe I can find some by the pond near the beach. Or I could just buy some jewelweed extract… Fortunately this case was milder than the rash I had last year, and responded quite well to the hydrocortisone cream I used.

      Birds are endlessly fascinating and keep surprising me with unexpected encounters. Seven years ago I got pictures of the oystercatchers in July so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will happen again!

      1. Jewelweed propels its seeds when the pods burst open, so they are best grown in wild spots. The ones I pull from the gardens and around the yard are often used to swab insect bites, etc. It soothes like aloe.
        If you don’t find any plants, I can always send you seeds in the fall to scatter for next year. They are an annual, hummingbirds love the flowers, and once you have them, they will self-sow. A great native plant!

        1. Thank you, Eliza! I’ll keep you posted about my hunt, although I don’t plan to venture too far off the beaten path in search of anything… My brother-in-law is a botanist. I might assign him the task. 😉 He’s into naturopathic remedies.

  3. Ah, to the beach! Wonderful adventure and array of photos, Barbara! And lots of catch-up for you, that is great, I know you’ll be anxious for August to get here sooner than later!! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Donna! The beach — not as exciting as finding pronghorns on the prairie but a welcome respite for us! It’s very nice having so many things to look forward to for a change. 🙂

  4. Love the Mary Oliver quote. I often need to remind myself to just stop and count my blessings. It seems you are blessed with family and a love of nature. Thank you for sharing some of that nature with us!

    1. You’re welcome, Anna! I think we all need reminders from time to time to focus on our blessings. My grandmother had a sampler hanging in her bedroom with the alphabet and numbers and a message stitched, “Without numbers how would we count our blessings? Without words how would we tell of them to others?” It made a big impression on me. 🙂

  5. Poison ivy? Yuck. I seem to be a mosquito magnet, so I certainly empathize with the itchiness. I’m a bit green over your visit with your sister. I haven’t seen mine since before the pandemic began, and it’s wearing on both of us. We’re eager to remedy things, now that restrictions are lifting.

    1. When I was a child playing in the woods I only got poison ivy once. As an adult I got it once in the 2000s after attending an outdoor music concert and now these last two summers. I just don’t get it! I hope you will get to see your sister very soon. I understand how hard being separated for so long has been!

    1. I would miss the salty ocean air and the shorebirds if I had to move inland, too. I’ve never been to Hawaii but the beaches sound wonderful by all accounts. Thank you for stopping by, Mary!

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