We made our yearly pilgrimage out to Bluff Point a few weeks ago in the hopes of seeing the monarchs on the seaside goldenrod during their southern migration rest stop. They can number into the hundreds when they are passing through town. The day we went was the only day we could go that week. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t coöperate. It was too cold, rainy, and windy for the monarchs to want to leave their protective roost. We were on the beach for over an hour and only saw one monarch flying in as we were leaving.
Despite the cold rain, we had a wonderful time combing the beach for beautiful shells and stones. Along the way we picked up trash like we usually do. This time we picked up 6.02 kg of miscellaneous trash. There was a shirt, two flip flops, plastic wrappers, shotgun shells, plastic bottles and caps, balloon pieces with ribbon still attached, styrofoam cup pieces, etc. Most of the trash we found was some kind of plastic. We made a point of searching the wrackline carefully, so that anything that had washed up in the last tide would not go back out to sea on the next. As we made our way down the beach, we spread out so that one of us was always scanning the area along the water, the beach in the center, and the upper beach along the plant line.
We found some beautiful scallop shells. The trick was balancing the number of shells I could carry in my shorts pockets against what weight of shells would make my shorts fall down. (Note to self: Get new clothes that fit correctly AND remember to bring a bag with a shoulder strap.) I had to stop collecting at a certain point, but, thankfully, I managed without having to hold my shorts up for the two mile walk back from the beach!
About halfway down the beach I spotted what I thought was a plover feeding. After searching our identification books once we got home, we think it was a juvenile sanderling. He kept running in and out of the surf and pecking at the sand to eat. I was so excited to see this little bird. In all the times we’ve been out to Bluff Point, we’ve never seen any of these birds, only seagulls. I couldn’t get a good enough picture with my iPhone. I was able to get Eric and Johann’s attention, so that they could get some good shots of our little friend. I was stone still. He got within 15 feet of me before he realized I was there and flew away. Then we continued on our quest for trash, shells, and driftwood.
After walking nearly the full length of the beach, we took the footpath to the calmer side where the river comes out and the tide affects the marshy area like a constantly changing lake. We came back that way. The tide was coming in, which started to overflow the pathway. With cold, soaking feet, a bag full of trash, and loaded down with beachcombing finds, we made our way back to the parking area and headed home to get hot drinks and change into warm clothes. Walks along the beach have a soothing effect on us. We love the smell of the salt air and the wind in our faces. Despite the fact that a hot shower would have warmed us up faster, we weren’t willing to let go of the salt air smell in our hair and on our skin that soon. Even though it wasn’t the day we had planned, it still turned out to be a great day at the beach!