Winter beach

Drove to Horseneck Beach for a long walk today. I had a desire to walk down the beach and pick up a few shells and not think about anything but sun and sand and waves. A brisk westerly breeze kept me walking quickly until I drew near to the Westport River where the beach was somewhat protected by a low rise of land to the west. I slowed down and started looking at the beach.

A different mix of shells from the beach at Fort Phoenix: Most of the clamshells appeared to be Atlantic Surf Clams, and I don’t think I saw any quahogs. (I saw one clammer working the beach, and I would have liked to have asked her what she was raking in, but she was too busy.) I also found a good number of Blue Mussel (Mytilu edulis) shells, which we haven’t found at all at Fort Phoenix. I picked up two or three clamshells that I couldn’t identify; after looking at the “Marine Organisms Database” on the Web site of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood’s Hole, I believe the shells are either Transverse Ark (Anadara transversa) or Blood Ark Clam (Anadara ovalis), both of genus Anadara. It must be a somewhat different ecosystem along Horseneck Beach.

At one point, I saw a Great Black-backed Gull floating on the sea with something quite large in its mouth. I looked through the binoculars to see what the gull was carrying. It was a sort of pinkish color; the gull had to open its bill quite wide to hold onto whatever it was, and at one point it dropped the thing into the water, but quickly snatched it up again. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was, and the gull’s eye glowed a brilliant, mysterious red in the setting sun. At last the gull flew ponderously up into the air, and I could see that it was carrying a Horseshoe Crab with the long tail dangling down. Off the gull flew, presumably to drop the crab onto something hard to break it open.

But mostly I just walked, and didn’t think of anything at all.