The beach never really changes. Correction, the beach is constantly changing. So which is it? Discuss amongst yourselves.
I arrive at 10am and the first birds I see are two piping plovers hanging around the wet sand near the north boundary fence (the Wildwood Crest border). The next birds I don't see are sanderlings. None. As far as I can see down the beach, not a one. Two weeks ago they were here by the hundreds. maybe thousands. Now none. Interesting. Did someone send out a Twitter alert about a sanderling flash mob somewhere in South Philly? Did their internal alarm go off saying it's time to go breed somewhere north of here??
The beach is quiet without them, although I see some red-throated loons and gannets offshore, and a few black-backed gulls on the beach. Some forster's terns screaming and four or five osprey fishing in the breakers. Every few minutes a long, dark vee of cormorants flies north across the beach. They are on the move too.
There are two couples, I figure. They are more concerned about romance than food. One (male?) ruffles up his feathers and does this macho little charge right up to the (female?). She bows her head forward a little and tips and fans her tail up the air as she spreads her wings. How subtle. "How do ya like this??" she seems to say. He looks. She likes that he looks. She repeats the gesture; he is still looking. She slowly moves away and he follows. She sits in a depression in the sand. I'm thinking it's not a nest (yet) but I will be back tomorrow to see if they're still here. Ah, love is in the air.
PS: Some good birding at the Boardwalk Trail today! At least a dozen green-winged teal, several snowy and great egrets, a pair of northern shovelers, (photo above) and more. This is a transitional season, and you never know what you might find back there. Bring your scope and walk slowly.
PPS: The Wild Meadow at the Visitor's Center is coming to life. Many of the plugs, plants and seeds we planted there last fall are sprouting new life, and butterflies are already investigating. I counted American Copper (see photo above), Spring Azure, Clouded Sulphur, and Cabbage White.