Sweetness and light.
8 a.m.: I ditched the backyard scene, with the gobbling, molting grackles, the squabbling, naked-headed bluejays (also in molt) and I headed a couple of miles east to my beach backyard where I blissed out on sandpiper cuteness.
One hundred? two hundred? sandpipers and plovers were running around in the washed-up seaweed at North Hampton State Beach. They camouflage nicely so I guess that’s why the runners and walkers and beach-chair ocean-starers were ignoring the charming little birds.
Some people were doing yoga with their mats rolled out on the clean sand closer to the ocean’s bright edge and the freshly risen sun. One class ended and another began while I was there. The instructor collected checks for $100 from a few people as they were leaving.
Some of them saw me taking pictures of the birds, but they didn’t seem to really see the birds. People see other people. Birds see other birds, and the hulking shapes of people when they are too close.
Plovers would chase each other sometimes, if one violated another’s breakfast-gathering zone, but they ignored the other sandpipers.
At one point I was standing right behind some people in beach chairs, while snapping bird pics, and I sensed they didn’t like how close I had come to their beach zone, reserved early on what promises (with sunshine and calm winds) to be a busy late-summer Sunday.
When there is a lot of seaweed on the sand like this, there is less space for people and more room and food for birds. So I consider the mild stench of rotting seaweed to be worth it to help the big job of shorebird migration.
Semipalmated Sandpipers from eastern populations probably undertake nonstop transoceanic flights of 3,000 – 4,000 km (1,900 – 2,500 mi) from New England and southern Canada to South America, powered by extensive fat reserves.
Is this a semipalmated or piping plover? I don’t know enough to tell the difference. But one is endangered and protected, and limits human use of certain beaches during breeding season, and the other is in good shape.
Staring through a telephoto lens in bright morning sun at tiny, vivacious shorebirds is one way (that works especially well for me) to increase serotonin levels in the human brain without drugs.
A distinct sensation of elation was with me on the car ride home and still, an hour and a half later, now. Let the day begin.