Tropical Storm Elsa cleared up in time for us to have our supper down at the beach. Didn’t see any storm damage, although other parts of Connecticut got some flash flooding. We had 4 inches of rain. The winds weren’t too bad but it was still pretty breezy down by the water. The wildflowers on the rocks looked freshly showered.
We had two gulls to keep us company. They waited politely and posed for pictures but never got a bit of food from us.
After we ate we took a walk over to look at the island where we saw the great blue heron the other day but he wasn’t there. Instead, we saw a Canada goose hanging out with the American oystercatchers. If only I could get closer!
And as we passed by the song sparrow’s thicket we saw one of them. When he faced the sun and the wind he looked fine, and when he turned and faced away from the wind his feathers ruffled.
It was good to get out of the house. Still trying to wrap our minds around the latest COVID-19 news, that 4 million people have died of it worldwide. (Probably many more than that.) Even though things seem almost back to normal around here, the fact is that most of the world is still in a very precarious situation.
We worked on a jigsaw puzzle during the storm… Now it’s back to the heat and humidity and thunderstorms…
This morning we have woken up under a tropical storm warning. What’s left of Hurricane Elsa looks like it will come bother us after all. It’s been a wild week. Hot and humid with violent thunderstorms in the evenings. Last night we snuck down to the beach before one arrived, listening to the rumbles in the distance.
We didn’t see The Captain but I had fun taking pictures of plants and an assortment of gulls passing the time on the rocks and fence posts. Much as I love my gulls I do have a terrible time trying to figure out what year they are!
After walking around the property I spotted a great blue heron out on the island where the cormorants usually position themselves. Never seen one at our beach before! He was pretty far away but I did the best I could.
I heard a song sparrow and then Tim spotted it way up at the top of a tree. (I usually see them in the thicket…)
I think another invasive species has arrived in our area. the European water chestnut is a freshwater aquatic plant released inadvertently into waters of the Northeast in the late 1800s. As of 2014 it hadn’t been seen in Connecticut but it is here now and has overtaken Avery Pond. It completely covers the water. Sigh… It’s very sad to see. Beach Pond, which I think is a salt pond, has not been affected.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
Tropical Storm Fay moving northward east of the North Carolina coast. Expected to bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to portions of the Mid-Atlantic coast and Southern New England. ~ National Hurricane Center
Looks like tomorrow might be an exciting day! Keeping our eyes on the path of this one. It’s been four years since we’ve had a tropical storm, eight years since we’ve had a hurricane. I hope this isn’t the start of a busy season.
So, I’ve been in North Carolina for almost two weeks now, spending lots of time with Katherine and helping out her parents as best I can. Tim, too, but he left very early this morning and made it all the way home to Connecticut this evening! He’ll be back, though, after taking care of a few obligations.
Larisa has been pretty miserable but now that the shingles is improving she’s feeling a little better. This morning she remembered that my friend, an interpreter, told us that in Spanish pregnancy is called “la dulce espera,” the sweet wait. I hope these last couple of weeks will be sweeter now.
On the day tropical storm Michael arrived here, Katherine observed her Grandpa frequently tracking the storm on his weather app. She happened to be outside when the first raindrops fell so she rushed inside, so excited, and exclaimed, “Tell Grandpa the storm is here!” And so it was. We listened to the torrential rain and from her bedroom window watched the ferocious wind pelt the lower roof with twigs and branches.
We lost power late in the afternoon, 45 minutes before the pot roast was done. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious. We each had a flashlight to navigate in the dark. When it stopped raining we took our flashlights and went out for a walk in the dark. Katherine had colorful flashing lights on her rain boots which made it easy to keep track of her. Dima’s flight was diverted to Atlanta so he didn’t make it home until the next day. Our power came back around noon the next day, too.
Our niece and her husband learned that their house, of newer and more hurricane-resistant construction, was spared. They returned to help their neighbors and search for missing persons. They even had a story written about their efforts in The New York Times!
Katherine still loves to take her nature walks, even in the dark. One night her father spotted a toad and took the picture above. So much wonder in the world!
If we were still in Connecticut this major hurricane would not be affecting us. But since we are in North Carolina we have what is now Tropical Storm Michael raging outside today.
The storm first became very interesting to us because our niece, who just got married last month, lives in Panama City Beach, Florida, with her new husband. They evacuated, of course, with their three kitties, and fled to North Carolina to stay with her parents (Tim’s brother and sister-in-law). So the four of them came up here to Larisa’s for dinner last night, and we sat around the table for hours looking at the pictures people had shared online of the devastation in their area. Presumably taken after the tempest had passed. Several buildings near their home were severely damaged and a brick and mortar middle school was a pile of rubble. No pictures of what might be left of their home as of last night. They are very close to where the eye made landfall.
We’re waiting for more news…
Tim & I are down here helping Larisa while Dima is on a business trip. Larisa is in a lot of pain but is putting on a brave front. We all hope this baby decides to come sooner than later! Since Katherine wanted me to play with her this morning it fell on Tim to follow my recipe and start a pot roast in the slow cooker. Hope we don’t lose power! Dima should be home tonight unless the storm interferes with his flight…
Five days ago there were a lot of birds at the beach, perhaps getting ready for Tropical Storm Hermine… I had some fun trying to identify the different stages of life of the laughing gulls…
We had a few gusts of wind which ruffled some feathers…
I wondered if the cormorants would be staying out on their island during the storm…
The baby great black-backed gull wondered if we would be handing out a french fry. Tim had unintentionally dropped one recently, renewing hopes for some of the younger birds…
My friend knows better — he’s content to visit with us. 🙂
We also saw a great egret — they don’t often come this close, preferring their island in the middle of one of the salt ponds.
The swan’s pond has mostly dried up due to the drought…
Sharing the estuary by the sea wall, we were amazed to see eight snowy egrets feeding with the great egret, the swan and a flock of Canada geese!
The calm before the storm… Hermine gave us mostly gale force winds and drizzle. Several branches and many leaves and twigs came off the trees, but no trees were uprooted in our vicinity. That was more than enough excitement for us!
Tropical Storm Hermine is supposed to head out to sea south of us, sending us very little rain or wind. (Too bad because we could really use some rain here.) Of more concern is a predicted storm surge of 2-4 feet tomorrow and beach erosion. But Hermine delivered us quite a surprise yesterday, a huge guided-missile destroyer, seeking shelter from the storm.
Today we decided to take a water taxi across the river so I could get a picture of this huge warship. As it happened, three sailors from the ship were on the water taxi, too, and Tim got to talking with them while I was snapping pictures. After the storm passes they will be headed to the Gulf or the Med, which is sailor slang for the Mediterranean Sea. They are hoping for the Med because it is hotter than hell in the Gulf.
When Tim called their ship a boat they corrected him — they refer to it properly as a destroyer. We may think this vessel is huge but they said it is one of the smaller navy ships.
These fellows seemed so young, even younger than our own children. As we go about our busy lives, it’s so easy to forget that our nation is still at war, that so much is being sacrificed. Carry on sailors, and thank you for your service.
The authorities couldn’t keep the folks who love their beach away for too long. A couple of hours after Tim & I attempted to go and were stopped, Nate & Shea (son and daughter-in-law) went for a look and they were finally letting people in! All the pictures in this post were taken by Shea on Sunday, the 28th, and are being used with her permission.
Beach Pond Road, leading to Eastern Point Beach, was still flooded.
Another tree downed – so sad… Look at all the seaweed left on the street.
One of Shea’s nephews on the beach…
And her other nephew…
Part of the wall between the beach and the parking lot was damaged…
A park bench moved by the waves into the parking lot. The pay-loader was cleaning up the sand from the beach which had been swept up by the sea and was covering the parking lot.
Local lads enjoying the force of the wind…
Three more benches landed here…
The little house on the little rock island made it through – I suspect the storm surge was probably up to the first floor.
Waves still crashing on the parking lot. At its peak the storm surge covered the parking lot with white caps – I saw a picture of it on Facebook but haven’t got permission to use it.
Damage on the Thames River end of the parking lot.
The pile of beach sand the pay-loader scooped up. I wonder if they will move it back down to the beach at some point.
Photos by Shannon Rodgers
Some people have expressed disappointment that this storm wasn’t as exciting as it was predicted to be. I just have to put my 2¢ in:
Making sensible preparations for a hurricane is like putting on your seat-belt. There’s a reason why people are always saying to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. When we drive or ride in our cars and arrive safely at our destinations do we complain that we didn’t have the possible accident we are ready for? Or that we are disappointed because the ride wasn’t exciting enough? Sure, some newscasters get carried away with their superlatives, but many try to emphasize the basic unpredictability of hurricanes and underscore the importance of being safe and not sorry. So far 38 people were killed in this storm, 2 of them in Connecticut. And 3.3 million people are still without power, and many have lost their homes. No doubt they feel they had more than enough unwanted excitement.
Thank you, Shea, for the great pictures! I think this marks the end of my Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene coverage…