waning summer

9.13.20 ~ Eastern Point

Beach season ended with Labor Day weekend. We took a walk down there the following weekend and were greeted by this solitary gull on the rocks.

On the ocean, gulls are good luck. Gulls are strong, brave, commanding. They are harbingers of land, of fish just below the surface, of a coming storm. Legend has it they hold the souls of drowned sailors and fishermen, so killing one is bad luck.
~ Sara Anne Donnelly
(Yankee, July/August 2020)

nonbreeding adult laughing gulls

When we got down to the sand we found a large gathering of gulls hanging out. They have reclaimed the beach! I was delighted because the tiny laughing gulls were actually on the sand, which is a much more appealing backdrop than the asphalt parking lot where I usually see them. There was quite an assortment of sizes and colors.

juvenile laughing gull and nonbreeding adult herring gull
laughing gull, second winter and nonbreeding adult herring gull
juvenile laughing gull
nonbreeding adult laughing gull
nonbreeding adult ring-billed gull
laughing gull and herring gull, both nonbreeding adults
these two seemed to be great friends
At first I thought the large one might be a great black-backed gull because he seems pretty huge, but he doesn’t quite fit the description. I dusted off my “Gulls of the Americas” reference book and discovered that there has been some cross-breeding between the great black-backed and herring gulls. Maybe that’s what’s going on here…
perhaps a version of yoga tree pose
nonbreeding adult ring-billed gull
juvenile laughing gull
waning summer
weed and post art
jellyfish!

There really is a kind of insane beauty around us all the time. It’s just a question of learning to slow down, take a deep breath, and meet the moment.
~ Graham Nash
(Eye to Eye: Photographs)

It was fascinating watching this creature propelling itself through the murky water. It moves so fast I was surpised that some of the pictures actually came out!

The bars are still closed in Connecticut and now that the beach gate is open I’m sure it won’t be long before people start returning to the beach to socialize, bringing their dogs and leaving their trash, cigarette butts, and empty beer bottles. We will probably return to the woods soon, and try to do a better job of avoiding the poison ivy. Enjoying the autumn weather!

an apple a day…

8.10.20 ~ Eastern Point

On Monday we tried to beat the humidity and went down to the beach early. Sometimes there’s no beating the humidity this time of year. Even at that early hour we lasted barely half an hour before Tim felt unwell. But before retreating I did see something new. A ring-billed gull had scavenged an apple and was diligently making a meal out of it.

The sun was trying to come out. Hazy, hot and humid before 8 am.

We got in the car, defeated. Turned on the air conditioner and then noticed a small colony of laughing gulls gathered in the parking lot! They’re back!

laughing gull preening

It was back home to the air-conditioning for us…

misty hibiscus palustris

8.4.20 ~ Beach Pond

Before Tropical Storm Isaias arrived on Tuesday, and after filling the car with gas and dropping off our mail-in primary ballots, we went down to the beach and the turtle pond for an early morning walk. We never lost power here, in spite of the high winds, but I see on the news the rest of Connecticut was hit much harder.

swamp rose-mallow and common cattail

Unfortunately the storm didn’t bring much rain here, which we could have used because we’ve had so little this summer. In these pictures you can see that Beach Pond is almost dried up, all that remains are puddles and mud. Normally there would be lots of blue-gray water behind these wildflowers.

swamp rose-mallow and common cattail

My heart always skips a beat when I see the swamp rose-mallows are blooming! They seem to be a perfect shade of pink. When I was little, pink was my favorite color. My parents even let me paint my bedroom walls pink. Blue has replaced it as my favorite color in adulthood, although I think you could call the muted shade on my current living room walls a dusty rose.

purple loosestrife
pickerelweed
swamp rose-mallow (hibiscus palustris)
8.4.20 ~ Eastern Point
rabbit’s-foot clover ?

Down at the beach I noticed these curious tiny puffy pale pink flowers (above) growing between the rocks. And there was a solitary gull (below) letting the waves wash over his feet. You can tell the wind was just starting to pick up from his ruffled feathers.

ring-billed gull

After taking the online Joy of Birdwatching course at The Cornell Lab Bird Academy, I took their suggestion and joined the “Connecticut Birds” Facebook group. It’s a private group with about 6,500 members and you cannot share the beautiful pictures other members submit. What a treasure trove! And the members are so helpful when you need assistance identifying a bird.

non-breeding male or juvenile mallard

Even if you don’t know you need guidance! Back on June 24 I saw a solitary eider swimming in the river and honestly thought it looked like a juvenile loon. But someone in the group suggested it was a female common eider and that she had never seen one before! I looked it up and agree with her identification. At first I thought this bird was another common eider but now I’m going with a non-breeding male, or a juvenile, mallard, unless I get corrected again. 🙂

timelessness and quiet ecstasy

7.14.20 ~ ring-billed gull cooling his feet at Eastern Point Beach

The humidity lowered just a tad on Tuesday morning so we snuck down to the beach for an early morning walk. The only gull out and about was on the rocks, a ring-billed one with his bright yellow legs. He wanted to be friends and walk along with us.

When we went down on the sand he decided to come, too, and lead the way.

follow me, please
pardon me while I cool off my feet again

Then Tim spotted a butterfly flitting about on the wrack line!

monarch butterfly

When it moved to the sand I tried to get a shot of it with its wings open.

shadow on the sand

Yet there are other windows through which we humans can look out into the world around us, windows through which the mystics and the holy men of the East, and the founders of the great world religions, have gazed as they searched for the meaning and purpose of our life on earth, not only in the wondrous beauty of the world, but also in its darkness and ugliness. And those Masters contemplated the truths that they saw, not with their minds only but with their hearts and souls too. From those revelations came the spiritual essence of the great scripitures, the holy books, and the most beautiful mystic poems and writings. That afternoon, it had been as though an unseen hand had drawn back a curtain and, for the briefest moment, I had seen through such a window. In a flash of “outsight” I had known timelessness and quiet ecstasy, sensed a truth of which mainstream science is merely a small fraction. And I knew that the revelation would be with me for the rest of my life, imperfectly remembered yet always within. A source of strength on which I could draw when life seemed harsh or cruel or desperate.
~ Jane Goodall
(Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey)

nature’s delightful composition
gull tracks
song sparrow having its breakfast

I’d sit on logs like pulpits
listen to the sermon
of sparrows
and find god in Simplicity,
there amongst the dandelion
and thorn

~ Jewel
(A Night Without Armor)

wild carrot (Queen Anne’s lace)

We now have 144 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. Our county (New London) has 1,345 confirmed cases. Of those 4 are still in the hospital and 102 have lost their lives. I fret over the figures coming out of North Carolina and Georgia, where my children live. Stay safe and take care…

portrait setting

9.1.19 ~ my gull friend at Eastern Point Beach, portrait setting

Last night we went down for our last supper from the concession stand at the beach. (Tonight will be the last night it is open but it is supposed to rain today so we won’t likely be going down there.) As we were waiting for our order my gull friend flew to the post nearest Tyler House to greet us. I took a few pictures and then was suddenly inspired to try out the portrait setting on my camera. The gull was happy to keep posing.

9.1.19 ~ portrait setting
9.1.19 ~ portrait setting
9.1.19 ~ this is where he was standing for his portraits

When some people approached by land and a noisy little motorboat came close to shore, he took off and didn’t come back while we were eating on our bench. But I was grateful for the short visit we had.

9.1.19 ~ a young ring-billed gull who watched us eat our supper
9.1.19 ~ so long, summertime

I expect we will bring our own food down to the beach on warm autumn days, but I have to say, this was the first summer I’ve actually enjoyed in a very long time.

a cast of characters

8.16.19 ~ Eastern Point Beach
This is probably a laughing gull somewhere on the road to adulthood.
It takes them 2-3 years to gain adult plumage.
He kept a close eye on us, staring intently as we ate our supper.
This young ring-billed gull decided to attract our attention with all sorts of antics right in front of our bench.
His long call was not very long or very loud, thankfully.
They grey freckles on his head are fetching.
Showing off some fancy footwork.
This guy kept his distance as he was performing
the amazing “feet” of standing on one leg.
He stayed like that the whole time we were eating.
Look to the right…
Head down…
Keeping his gaze forward…
Now to the left. Perhaps he was doing some gull yoga.

There were no herring gulls there that evening, not even my friend with the mangled leg. But we were well entertained by these visitors.

an abundant small goose

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach, a visiting flock of brants

The Canada geese we have around here seem to live here year-round. Several times a day I hear them honking overhead as they fly from the beach to the south, to the golf course to the west, and to the salt marsh and fields to the east of us. I love that sound.

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Yesterday as we were taking a walk down by the beach we saw a flock of geese feeding on the grassy area but there was something different about them. They seemed smaller than Canada geese. Tim walked around behind them so they would come toward me and the camera. The one below seemed a little curious.

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Then they decided to walk away from both of us in a third direction.

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

When Tim joined me again they decided it was safe to return to their original dining area. They went back single file!

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach ~ brants filing by Zbierski House

After researching online I think it is indeed a type of small goose, called the brant. I love discovering new kinds of visitors when I go to the ‘same old’ beach!

An abundant small goose of the ocean shores, the Brant breeds in the high Arctic tundra and winters along both coasts. The Brant along the Atlantic have light gray bellies, while those off the Pacific Coast have black bellies and were at one time considered a separate species.
~ All About Birds website

Of course there were plenty of gulls feeding, too. But they’re after the seafood found in shells…

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach ~ one of my gull friends eyeing a meal

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach

1.20.18 ~ Eastern Point Beach ~ late afternoon sun behind Tyler House, shining through the left corner window on the second floor

It was a lovely winter afternoon at the beach.

gull photo shoot

7.29.14.1031
7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

My love for gulls is no secret. Yesterday evening we went down to the beach and found the gulls pleasantly eager to pose for my camera. Incredibly, I came home with 79 pictures of these common and seemingly unremarkable shorebirds.

7.29.14.1045
7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

It was a very windy day as you can tell by the ruffled feathers in some of these shots.

7.29.14.1051
7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

It’s a good thing I took so many pictures of the other kinds of gulls last summer because we aren’t seeing many of them here this year. (But we did have oystercatchers this year, much to my surprise and delight!) These ”regular” ring-billed gulls seemed very happy to have their beach back to themselves… I envy them at times…

7.29.14.1052
7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Some bodyminds have more stormy weather systems than other bodyminds, just as some geographical locations have more stormy weather than others, and it is neither helpful nor relevant to compare ourselves to others. It is also very liberating to realize that change always happens on its own timetable, not on the the timetable the thinking mind conjures up. Especially in our speeded-up, fast-food, modern culture, we tend to want instant results, and life just doesn’t work that way. Most changes in nature happen slowly.
~ Joan Tollifson
(Nothing to Grasp)

7.29.14.1054
7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

As I sit here wishing for another bout of figurative “stormy weather system” to pass me by, communing with the gulls reminds me that change always happens on its own timetable…

7.29.14.1078
7.29.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

so many claims

8.18.13 ~ Groton, Connecticut
ring-billed gull ~ 8.18.13 ~ Eastern Point Beach

This week I have not read any book, nor once walked in the woods and field. I meant to give its days to setting outward things in order, and its evenings to writing. But, I know not how it is, I can never simplify my life; always so many ties, so many claims! However, soon the winter winds will chant matins and vespers, which may make my house a cell, and in a snowy veil enfold me for my prayer.
~ Margaret Fuller
(Letter to William H. Channing, October 25, 1840)