I just returned from a morning Christmas Eve walk to check out the beauty on the shoreline after yesterday's snow. I wasn't disappointed since the sun was out and the snow left multiple patterns of activity, human and otherwise. I started at Head Beach where the tide was half way up. One gull was actively pursuing breakfast, finding a clam and dropping it from on high to break the shell and expose the interior. I also found a large Surf Clam left by the tide and picked it up as further offering of a pre Christmas feast. This one looked like it was trying to breathe or suck in the moist air for sustenance. When I picked it up, it seemed to be frozen in that position. It is fairly common to find these clams tossed up on the beach after high winds and waves.
I walked on over to Sanddune Beach, braving the winds, and then heading into campsites protected from the cold. Deer tracks were everywhere, but I didn't identify where they had spent the night. It may have been that they camped out under evergreens that left a green, needle softened bed. I also looked for porcupine activity, but this time they were elsewhere.
I came back to Head Beach where the tide had moved in and offered a bubbly drink for passersby. There were a lot of these quahog shells left by the tide. These clams are out there, but are seldom dug or found alive. I continue to look for the cocoons of moths and finally located one near where last summer we found the caterpillar of a Cecropia Moth. This cocoon is well camouflaged by leaves that adhere to the fibrous cocoon. I opened an early Christmas present and this cocoon may soon be moved. The present is a clever enclosure for holding cocoons and chrysalises until their time to emerge. It is like a tent of net and is a most welcome gift!
One final test of your knowledge and identification of spots on the Hermit Island landscape. Can you picture where this picture on the above left was taken? That piece of driftwood in the distance is a clue. I was standing on Head Beach looking north where that large, carved piece of driftwood has been sitting for a few years. The sand on the beach has shifted and uncovered this ledge of rocks near where you enter the beach from the Kelp Shed. At this time of year, these rocks have to be climbed to go from one end of the beach to the other! In summer, they are mostly covered by the shifting sands. Happy Holidays! Ronnie 12/24/10