Two Mile Beach

There were other sights beside the oystercatchers and whelks at Two Mile Beach  during the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival .

A Horseshoe crab heavily encrusted with barnacles had dug into the beach to survive until the next high tide. They can survive for quite a few hours that way. Our guide from the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed the sand from around it. The crab had already died unfortunately….very sad. It would have been exciting to carry a living crab down to the water’s edge. It was interesting to learn that all the older crabs accumulate barnacles. It changes the look of their shell (do the barnacles block some of their senses as well? I didn’t think to ask.

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There was a young Herring Gull at the edge of the water getting lunch. Is that a small horseshoe crab? It’s a crab rather than a bivalve or fish for sure.

And there was an adult Herring Gull nearby.

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The whelks were not the only kind of marine snail on the beach.

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A smelly carcass of a dead whale was also on the beach. From far away it looked like a rock but as we got closer the smell wafted around us. Closer still and we saw the flies. It was too deteriorated to determine the type of whale. One flipper looked less decayed…a little swollen.

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On a more positive note – a piping plover was investigating the beach. The male was making courtship scratches in the sand. Maybe they will nest on the beach. It used to be a place that plovers nested but it’s not happened in recent years.

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As we walked back toward the dune path, I noticed an odd lump with black markings in the sand. I zoomed in with my camera – a ghost crab! We had been seeing their holes with the remains of their dinners scattered around all over the beach. They are predators and their color camouflages with the sand. The black eyestalks were what I noticed first.

My husband commented that the guides we’ve had that are staff at a National Wildlife Refuge (at Bosque del Apache, Sevilleta, and Two Mile Beach) have all been excellent. I agree with his assessment.

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 21, 2017

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

What’s With That Dam? : The National Wildlife Federation – We got to Conowingo to see bald eagles….so I was interested in learning more about it. Evidently - the dam’s current impact on the Chesapeake Bay is not a positive one.

On Bee-ing – Cool Green Science – About the Minnesota Bee Atlas.

Stunning Video Captures Humpback Whales Catching Fish with Nets of Bubbles | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d heard of this phenomenon but the video is still thrilling! Well work the 40 seconds!

How honeybees read the waggle dance -- ScienceDaily – The field trip the Howard County Conservancy does for 3rd graders includes a segment on the waggle dance….so I read this article to find out more about it….both the history of its discovery and the current research on the neurons responding to the dance.

Bathtub Bloodbath, 1793 | The Scientist Magazine® - A famous painting of Jean-Paul Marat murdered in his bath…what he was before his revolutionary activities.

Adaptation as Acceptance: Toward a New Normal in the Northwoods – Cool Green Science – Forests are changing – with climate change and invasive insects like emerald ash borer and woolly adelgid culling some trees that were, until recently, common in our forests. There is a grief for those lost trees that will not make a comeback. This article is about finding hope via adaptation. The forest will be different…but still forest.

Meet the Transgenic Silkworms That Are Spinning out Spider Silk | The Scientist Magazine® - Spider silk combines elasticity and strength but has been difficult to produce. Now the fiber is produced by silkworms and the increased availability makes it viable for a host of applications. It will be interesting to observe how the market develops.

Treetop Walkway Provides an Elevated Path Through Danish Forest – What an awesome way to observe a forest!

National Mall and Memorial Parks – Hope the laser ablation of the biofilm on the Jefferson Memorial works as well as the test spot. The dome has gotten a lot grayer over the years from ‘biofilm.’

Seeing Big Changes in Baltimore: The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Hurray for the schools and students in Baltimore provided wildlife habitat!