After wading to shore from the boat I sit down on the beach to remove my gum boots…much easier (and more comfortable!) to patrol in sneakers. Squinting hard because of the sun ricocheting off the calm water like so many tiny lasers. Going to be a bright one so I’d better break out the sunblock and slather on the first layer of the day. Only a light breeze gently moves the air feeling oddly warm and cool at the same time. It’ll pick up as the day ripens, I’m sure.
There’s barely a sound to be heard here on the island this morning save the near constant cheep cheeping of the ospreys from the nesting platform just across the Seapuit River from where I sit. When WILL those chicks hatch anyway? The sea is usually pretty easy going on this side of the island except when a passing boat forces small waves to softly slap the sandy shoreline as if against their will.
Looking down the beach I see no footprints in the sand…human or otherwise. Seems the overnight tide erased all those from yesterday clean. Nature’s etch-a-sketch, I think. The husky smell of sea wrack, salt air and what?…something else that I can’t quite put my finger on hangs in the increasingly heavy air. Good morning to you too, island.
Oh look, there’s a solitary Piping Plover skittering down the beach picking at the sand for small insects in the wrack and sea worms along the shoreline. Through my binoculars if I had to guess I’d say it’s a female because of her rather dull, washed out colors. But…could be wrong, they’re such difficult cryptic little creatures. Meanwhile, behind me just beyond the string of “symbolic fence” the colony of Least Terns is still rather quiet. Sure, there’s a number of them weaving, darting and dropping like rocks into the water hunting small fish but nothing like the ruckus they’re sure to be raising as the day wears on.
Huumm, there’s someone up the beach who’s just pulled their small Boston Whaler onto the sand in the no landing zone…which is clearly marked for the temporary benefit of the birds-the inter-tidal zone being their larder. Are these folks in distress? Perhaps they need some help? In any event, they can’t stay where they are. All it takes is one boat to open the floodgates and then it becomes a free for all. Time for Ranger Rick to go and have a look-see in order to maintain the fine balance between humans and wildlife. Thus, the first patrol of the day commences here on Dead Neck Sampson’s Island.