Saturday, August 19, 2006

Spouting, Seals and Three Perfect Beach Days

Three beauties in a row! What more can a vacationer ask for? All with temps about 78 degrees F, water temp of 63-65F and mild ocean breezes. Day one and two- not a cloud above us, but we could see clouds over Boston on the horizon from the beach. Day 3 was hazy but sun broke thru continuously, and Mother Nature put on a show.
We happened to be on the Cape. I would never recommend it as a vacation place- it's way too far , there's no garbage pickup, the water pressure sucks and it's way too expensive. Sand in the bathing suit sucks, and all you can eat is fish. We call it Fifi-land for reasons I shall not disclose. Go somewhere else. Really. I hear California is nice. Disney gets good reviews.
Anyhow- we go there sometimes. And when we are there, we force ourselves to go to the beach. (Driving in traffic is much more fun than sitting in the sun listening to other people's kids scream and throw rocks at each other. Take a drive. You'll be glad you listened to me and did not visit the beach.) This time, for a miracle, there were clear skies, perfect tides, and regular breezes, which I understand only happens every hundred years. Usually in August on the Cape, people are shovelling their driveways.
So we're sitting on the sand swiping at sand fleas and enjoying the Jim Jones mass suicide of thousands of little silver fish that committed mass suicide the night before just to see how many sand flies they could attract. The balmy breezes are punctuated by the whistles of exasperated lifeguards trying to corral morons who choose to wear swim noodles and bubbles so the rip tides can take them out even further, and watching the yahoos drive boats right up on the sand (yes, we DO think it must be bad for the boat, but after a twelve-pack it must seem like a REALLY good idea. One group of yahoos was actually throwing rocks at each other for sport, but they all survived this Darwinian pasttime, much to our chagrin). Anyhow, we're reading the books we've put off all year when Sue says "is that a spout?"
Yeah, sure, Sue, Moby Dick came by to finish off the little silver fish the terns have missed. Then right in front of me, whoosh, up goes the kind of spout I have only ever seen on the National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. Thar she blows!
This whale with a huge sense of humor and impecable dramatic timing then cavorted for over an hour right in front of us. Since we were the geeks with the telescope AND binoculars, the whole group of us was up like a shot, and this whale played with us visually. People around us began to stop and watch as well. When I had my turn with the binocs, I saw it spout, then roll on its side and slowly, idly roll across my line of vision and then down beneath the waves. I never saw it fluke its tail, but this critter played the crowd. A boat would go near and stop- nothing. Ten minutes would go by and the disappointed yahoos would head away, then it would spout again. It was pretty entertaining- endangered species messing with the heads of yahoos with too much money. You didn't need binocs, but I am glad I got a really good look at my first whale. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. (I hear Disney is nicer, especially the Hall of Presidents.)
In the lulls between spouts, a seal mom with a couple of pups would surface further down the beach and give us something else to amuse ourselves with. It's pup season, and they will land periodically to rest, so people are supposed to stay away and not stress them out (they get stressed, they get sick, then they die, and it's all your fault, damn yahoos). It was really nice to watch them but sad to see the yahoos eyeing them and thinking about coats.
We watched the whales and seals for over an hour- our friends stayed with the binocs for another hour after we left and the show continued- they saw TWO whales (we suspected there were 2).
Just to rack up the wildlife, over the three days we saw a common loon (eating a big fish), red-necked loon, all kinds of terns and gulls, and a peregrine falcon winging in from over the ocean. Ted says the peregrine is such a strong flier it doesn't depend on thermals, so unlike other hawks, you will see it come in from over the sea.
The feeder was frequented by goldfinches, cardinals, the occasional jay, chickadees, tufted titmice and house finches, along with a few straggling mourning doves. I stepped out on Day 2 and a juvenile fledgling cardinal was hopping right by the steps- he seemed to have a limp, and when he tried to fly up on the feeder, he fell off because he couldn't grip with his feet properly. We felt sorry for him so Ted threw some seed under the feeder, and he set to. When we got home from the beach, he was gone and either he encountered a miracle or he ended up as redtail dessert. Survival of the fittest.
Anyhow, the beach was just what I needed after the past year. I may go back down for a few days, but then again, I may shake the sand out of my bathing suit and head off to Disney. I hear it's the best vacation spot in the world. Really. Wanna go?

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