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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

On Sandy Shores and Salty Marsh

Canada Geese winging past historic Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse; circa 1883

Today my Nephew Kirk drove us over the Chesapeake Bridge over to Sandy Point State Park. There was a guard at the entrance... of a sort.

Loiterer by the Entrance Station

The first thing we noticed entering the park was it is full of light structures, used in the park's annual Holiday season light display. Many of the displays I guess use animation, such as a lit froggie that leaps up and over to a lily pad - a 5 foot long froggie. I know Kirk will be back with wife and kids to see the show.

I was rather surprised by the sand at Sandy Point - it was sandy, yes, but it was quite yellow in color and not at all like west coast sand. I guess it'd be too expensive to take it all up and replace it with San Francisco grade white sand.

View of the Chesapeake & Bridge, From the Sandy Point beach

Certainly, I was the only one fussy about the sand. There were loads of others at Sandy Point who were busy, albeit on a November day, soaking up some rays.

Sandy Point is good for a little sunning

Others prefer a game of volley ball

Birdwise, I strolled along a berm by the shore, and watched Bluebirds and Tufted Titmouses fluttering busily about. My primary target was - it being a bay - was shorebirds. My shorebird count for the day was three; these lovely little Sanderlings that probed a floating pine tree off shore. The birds were pretty far from shore, but I'm reasonably sure they were Sandies.

Sanderlings afloat on a fallen log

The most numerous bird on the shore - ignoring the Ring-billed Gulls, and a tiny number of Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls - were hunting Eastern Bluebirds. They were everywhere, sallying after what must have been a meager amount of insects and landing in the grasses. Why haven't these lazy migrants headed south yet? Apparently the Bluebirds were not impressed by last weekend's snow storm.

Bayside Eastern Bluebird
Near the beach there were a few White-tailed Deer and we were tickled to sit in the picnic area and watch the deer goofing off, playing reindeer games and such.

Flick, flick, flick, this buck's tail was a traffic signal for the others

The Mama doe flicked her tail quite a bit too

I was a bit surprised the White-tails were out in broad daylight, meandering about like they owned the place, which, if you ignore we silly humans, they do.

What... and where are you going young fawn?

Keep your hooves on Ma, I'm checking out these light thingies 

The deer floor, or rather, lawn show was great entertainment. We wended our way back to the car which took us past a beautiful historic mansion with a long sweeping driveway, a little under the weeds, but still impressive. Later I read the house is under reconstruction, returning it to its 1700s roots when it was HQ for a farm. Currently it's a private residence - for someone immune to drafts I reckon.

Grand Sandy Point Mansion

Having time for one more stop, Kirk headed for the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, which is a large conservation reserve. There were was trail you could drive or walk - guess which one I went for?

Boardwalk at the end of the trail - must have great rail watching

There were, as expected lots of wet, loads of marshland and a surprisingly modest number of Canada Geese and a Great Blue Heron and Great Egret or two.

Lovely Loblolly Pine Hammock in the Marsh

Kirk headed in to check out the Visitor Center

The Environmental Center was modest but well equiped with a spotting scope and many pairs of binoculars and more importantly, loads of turtles and birds to stare at.

Uh... not one of the turtles I mentioned - this one regulates wayward refuge visitors

This girlie Northern Cardinal liked under the feeder more than being on the feeder

For me a trip to the east coast isn't complete without seeing some Blue Jays, which I always say are bird # 1 on my ABA area life list. The jays are one of the prettiest birds anywhere in my opinion.

Hyper Blue Jay

To shell a seed, place it between your toes and POUND it!

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