|A Black Skimmer, left, and a Laughing Gull at the marsh|
Take for example the first birds we saw yesterday, the Laughing Gulls. These guys come here to nest and raise their chicks. As many species do, they fix up their appearance in order to attract the best possible mate. Their heads turn black as if they'd visited their expert colorist, and they appear to put on white eyeliner. As I mentioned in my two previous posts about the lighthouse full moon climb and the horseshoes on the beach, the full moon occurred Monday. This was good news for the Friends of the Lighthouse and the Delaware Bay horseshoes, but sad news indeed for the Laughing Gull community. They had prepared their nest in the salt marsh grass, laid their eggs, and then extra-high tides from the full moon and windy weather washed them all away. Heartbreaking! When we cruised by, we could see them busily rebuilding nests to attempt another go at families.
|This Laughing Gull is carrying nesting material to his/her new home.|
My father always loved seeing egrets because they reminded him of his childhood in Louisiana. They still seem exotic to me even though I see them often around these parts. This is a Snowy Egret, and you can see his yellow feet. We saw many of these yesterday, and many Great Egrets who have yellow bills and black feet. (Now will I remember that?)
|"I am a Snowy Egret and I have yellow feet."|
|An Osprey couple in their nest|
The Oystercatcher is the coolest marsh bird, just because of its bright orange bill. I'm pretty sure I heard Captain Ginny say that these Oystercatchers don't actually eat oysters here, but the long, skinny razor clams. They pop the razor clam shell open with their long orange bill and eat the yummy clam from inside. It takes awhile for the kids to learn this trick, and Captain Ginny reports that they often see the young ones with razor clams stuck to their bills looking a bit like Pinocchio!
|An Oystercatcher shows off his carrot-like bill.|
|Captain Ginny shows us a tiny shrimp that lives in marsh seaweed (photo by Cara Cotellese)|
|Me and Cara on the 40-foot Skimmer (photo by Captain Ginny)|