Monday, October 11, 2010

Wild Wildlife: Part I: Delaware Welcomes Us.

[the sea through an oyster]

Ever since our many trips up and down Interstate 95 early this year as my partner and I shuttled between Boston and DC, I have cherished a deep resentment towards Delaware. As anyone who has driven through Delaware on I-95 knows, you’re in the state for approximately five-and-a-half seconds, and yet they charge you something like $19 in tolls. And, adding insult to injury, their single state sign announces wearily, “Delaware Welcomes You.” Yes, with a period. Even the absence of punctuation would be less insulting than that period. Surely, I argued, any state that soaks drivers so thoroughly that it doesn’t need to have a sales tax should be friendlier towards its cash cows. Surely they could afford to be more cheerful—or at least buy a damn exclamation point.

Luckily, our time in Rehoboth Beach was charming and gave me no further reason to resent the state of Delaware. Some of the highlights of the trip included:

- My saving a giant moth (initially identified as a “hummingbird” by people in the store) from being trapped forever in a gift shop. (A quick note on identification: hummingbirds, though they are also flying organisms of about two or three inches in length, tend not to be nocturnal or possess antennae.)
- Annie’s drinking a cocktail called “Aunt Bunny’s” while regaling me with anecdotes from a new biography of Flannery O’Connor.
- Our car being rescued from where it was beached on the sand by a kind member of the Surf Fisherman’s club at Cape Henlopen State Park.
- The people at a neighboring restaurant table eating an estimated 500,000 blue crabs in order to get their money’s worth out of the “all you can eat” crab special.

Even though the place was full of vacationers who, like us, flocked in for the long weekend, we saw a fair amount of wildlife—primarily birds, although also the shells/carapaces of a number of marine invertebrates, including razor clams, shore clams, slipper-shell snails, mole crabs, jingle shells, mussels, horseshoe crabs, and bay scallops.

Our first evening, as we walked on the beach (still crowded at 6pm), I was thrilled to see that along with the several species of gulls present, various other seabirds were also flying above the water and shore. Most of them were too far away for me to identify, of course, although I spent a great deal of time telling long-suffering Annie things like, “Look! Look! Do you see that bird there, way out, with the black wings, right by the waves? That’s not a gull!” or “I think that’s an osprey! It is an osprey!” (She humored me as best she could.)

[an osprey with a fish in its talons]

We also saw a number of immensely long Vs of migrants flying in their orderly, flowing lines across the sky; I think these in this picture are cormorants with the late-day sun gilding their undersides:

Gordon Pond, in the state park, is a beautiful, huge pond just a little way from the beach, full of marsh grasses and reeds; it reminded me of parts of Merritt Island National Refuge in Florida, except without the alligators. Given that we took a walking trail, I can’t say I was disappointed by their absence.

The pond was alive with egrets and terns and ospreys and herons.

The pine trees skirting it were also full of juncos and finches and inconsiderate little Taunting Warblers (a proper name, I assure you) that flitted through the branches, paused only when they were behind an obscuring spray of needles, and had an unerring instinct for knowing precisely when I had trained the camera on them but not yet depressed the shutter-release button.

[I think this one may be
a yellow-rumped warbler]

I will continue with more photographs of shores and shore life in Part II of the Delaware Saga. Stay tuned to discover what bizarrely named shorebirds we encountered (a hint: they were not dowitchers).

[self-portrait at the beach]

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Yup, looks like a yellow rump to me, but warbler identification is not my forte. Great shot of the sea through the oyster.

pattinase (abbott) said...

For many years, we stayed in a house on Dewey Beach just south of Rehoboth. Always had a great time there. Doesn't compare to Cape Cod though, does it?

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