Theory and Practice

A Day at the beach... In January?!?

The incredible [in both the “fantastic” and “not to be believed” senses of the word] weather we had on Saturday translated into an experience for Zoe that I didn’t expect she’d get for several more months: a trip to the beach!

Zoe and Daddy at the beach

We headed up to Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, which is one of our favorite birding spots. I didn’t get a lot of pictures of Zoe, since I was wearing her, but Karen did. I did take a couple of “arty” shots, though. I like this one on the sea and sky because it doesn’t look at all like a January ocean shot.

Sea and sky, Plum Island, Janary 07

I’m also pretty happy with the shot of the boardwalk to the beach; I may try to print this one for display (click on the image for a high-res version).

Boardwalk, Plum Island (B+W)

I also like this one of the dunes, shot from the new elevated boardwalk. You can see the old walk below, half-buried in the sand.

Dunes, Plum Island, January 07

This was a big trip for us, since it was the first beach trip for Zoe and only the second time she’s gone birding. It wasn’t much of a birding trip, really, but it was a beautiful day. The 70 degree temps were stunning and we went short-sleeved even along the ocean. It’s hard to believe that this was Massachusetts in January. On the one hand very enjoyable; on the other it freaks me out to think that this could be a sign of things to come on the global warming front. Or it could just have been a really nice day. :)

Karen at the beach

We saw some birds, mostly eared grebes just offshore, along with a few loons. There were lots of ducks and geese in the ponds. The big event was an American Bittern, a normally secretive wader. This one was out in the open and really showing off in the lovely light. We were standing right next to Jim Fenton when he took these. The light was perfect. Even though I was carrying my Canon, I’m not really set up for great bird photos yet. I need to get hold of one of those 600mm jobs. Anyone want to contribute? ;-) I did manage a couple of grabs of a rather unremarkable Ring-billed Gull.

Gull, Plum Island, January 07

The big wildlife shot of the day for me came with a harbor seal that was laying out on the beach. When we got there, a guy mentioned it to us, so we walked down to talk a closer look. It’s unclear if this fella was ill or just resting; it didn’t seem to be in much distress but it wasn’t really trying to get away from people, either, which is not a good sign.

Seal, Plum Island, January 07

I managed to get a few shots from about 25ft. The ranger came done and set up a cordon around the seal and they said they’d watch it for a day or so to see if it was all right. It was a cute little guy, but I suspect it was ill.

Seal up close, Plum Island, January 07

All in all, it was a great day at the beach and a wonderful break from the normal winter gloom. I’m not really hoping for more days like that this winter, but it was a nice reminder of just how beautiful spring could be.

Karen at the beach