Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cape Cod - Beach Bum Birds

     My husband and I were able to take a much needed short vacation away from home. We traveled to Cape Cod, MA and stayed in the town of Dennisport. Our motel, the Old Landing, was great because all we had to do was walk around the back of our room and the beach was pretty much there for your enjoyment.
     The beaches are small, with jetties boarding a 50 years span of sand. They are not super crowded as they are limited to locals and the motels that are nearby. While we pounded, we had a few visitors every time. Gulls were abundant- ring billed, laughing, herring, and black backs were on the prowl looking for unattended and easy to snatch food. But also abundant were shore birds, which entertained my husband and I, as we watched them scurry into and out of the surf. While in the water, we were surprised when a double crested cormorant was swimming about 15 feet from us. They would dive and swim their way across the shore line. 
     We went to the beach 3 days in a row, slathering on more and more sunblock each time. We sat and enjoyed out little birdie visitors as well as some free time to do nothing except listen to the surf.
A semipalmated sandpiper, I called him "Cheeto" because he ran around with this crunchy cheeto and would run after it if the surf carried it away. He ended up flying off with it. An interesting addition to this sandpipers diet, I'm sure.
Cheeto could have been possibly letting the little crunchy snack soak up water to soften, because he could not eat it as is, considering that nibble is as big as his head.
Ruddy turnstones came by often too, usually solo, while the semipalmated sandpipers tend to come by in small groups of 2 or 3.
A semipalmated in the surf of Sea Beach.
A semipalmated behaving like a sandpiper. Compare this birds beak with that of the turnstone, this beak is for probing and picking up anything small hiding in the sand. Acting much like a pair of tweezers to accurately grab the smallest of invertebrates.

They were not shy, it was wonderful how close they came to people on the beach.It made for nice viewing, but it was totally on their terms, if you approached them, they would go their separate way. 
The wedged beak of the turnstone allowed this bird to pry apart and pick out the meat inside the slipper shells that washed up attached to pieces of loose sea weed. This bird fed alongside the sandpipers, but ate completely different food. A lovely observation of adaptation and the birds niches on the beach.
Side by side and no competition due to different lifestyles.
A juvenile herring gull patrolling the beach.