There are Plenty of Living Creatures on the Winter Beach, too.

Moon snail beneath the surface of the sand

The winter beach has evidence of the life-and-death search for food everywhere you look.  Here is a moon snail cruising just below the surface of the sun-warmed sand, looking for its next coquina or other creature to snack on.  Our further exploration showed it rapidly pulling into its shell and sealing the doorway quickly with its operculum.

you can see just the tip of the shell in the sand

We made sure to cover it back up so it doesn’t wind up exposed to the next predator, likely a bird.

We also found a stone crab at the wrack line– alive, but moving slowly.

Winter is a wonderful time to watch the shorebirds and seabirds on the beach.  The Christmas bird count group scouted the beach the day before our count, and found flocks of shorebirds in the thousands. (they were nowhere in evidence the day of the count, but that’s another story.)

mixed flock of semipalmated plovers, dunlin, and dowitchers

Yesterday I was able to watch a group of Dunlin probe for small crabs and clams in an exposed ancient pluff mud bank, and some sanderlings run back and forth in the edges of the gentle waves.  If you are interested in identification of shorebirds, Lori just put a new, great poster at the ferry dock which shows the relative size and coloring of our common winter shorebirds.

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