Thursday, June 22, 2017

A variety of hermits

I created this water mosaic with photos from our walk on Stoney Island Beach. These were taken with my point and shoot, an experiment to see if it's worth taking the time to create a larger mosaic with higher quality photos.
It is my belief that even non birder people can appreciate a lovely bird song. Last year, I often heard tweeting of a non technological variety coming from the forest behind our house, but I wasnt familiar with the song and I could never spot the bird. I recorded it one evening and then posted the sound on facebook, receiving immediate responses that the mysterious crooner was a hermit thrush.
According to information on the internet, they are often found in forest understories, especially at the edge or openings.

I never spotted a hermit thrush last year, but recently heard the song again while walking my dogs on the Centennial Trail. I stopped, spent a few minutes trying to track the sound, and I was rewarded with my first sighting. Not a strikingly colourful bird, but a thrill nonetheless.

I came across a hermit of another species on a recent excursion to Beach Meadows. I always collect bits and bobs on our beach walks, and our house is decorated with my finds. Jars of sand dollars, large sea shells, beach glass, and unique stones can be found throughout our home. I love to be surrounded by natural things, and you cant beat the price for decorating on the cheap. I have a unique jar I scored at an auction several years ago, and every now and then I add a small shell to it. Not a memory keeper of particular moments, the jar is a general reminder of how happy I am to live within easy access of the shore.

But I digress. On our recent walk at Beach Meadows, I picked up a shell to add to my jar on the mantle. I turned the shell over to make sure it wasnt inhabited and found a surprise. It wasnt empty, but it wasnt a snails home either. Instead, I was shocked to find legs protruding from the shell and in a momentary panic that revealed my city girl roots, I flung the shell into the water with a yell. My startled husband wanted to know what was wrong. Sheepishly, I told him that I had found a hermit crab and reacted instinctively rather than with any reasoned thought. Hopefully the hermit crab wasnt hurt on his journey through the air into the ocean. Im guessing he was as surprised by the experience as I was.

The only other time during my nine year life on the east coast that I have seen a hermit crab was when walking with a friend on Crescent Beach last year. She made the discovery and we were both enthralled. We gently turned him over and watched as he slowly extended his legs from the shell. I can tell you from experience, its much nicer to watch a hermit crab from several feet away, rather than looking at the spidery type legs just a few inches from your face. Flashbacks from the movie Alien come to mind.

My husband and I try to get to the shore once a week, but really our goal is to take a beach walk at least eight times a month. The air is fresher. The breeze blows away any troubles. And the exercise of a walk along the ocean, for us and for our dogs, just cant be beat. Someone asked me once why I dont live near a beach, since I spend so much time there. Well, thats a good question. Youll have to ask my husband for the answer.

Recently, it was over 30 degrees in town and we decided to escape further down the south west coast to Cape Sable Island. At this time of year, the beaches closer to us get a little more populated so we head to the beaches that tend to have fewer people around. On that 30 plus degree day, it was a cool and breezy 14 at Stoney Island Beach. I thought I had dressed appropriately, taking a cotton hoodie with me. But, no, a short photo shoot on the windy shore by Clarks Harbour had us heading back into Barrington Passage and do a quick shopping expedition to purchase another sweat shirt. A warm woman is a happy woman. Ironic how you can leave one place to escape the heat and then your goal shifts to trying to keep warm.

Shopping trip successful, we headed back across the causeway and to the beach. Happiness is seeing a parking location that is free of any other vehicles and knowing you
ll have the beach to yourself. One of the best walking beaches we have found, firm sand stretches just about as far as you can see. It was the windiest we have experienced there, and the return walk was a lot easier to accomplish. Rarely without a camera, I snapped a lot of quick photos of the water with my point and shoot in order to put together a mock up of a mosaic of photos that I have in mind as a mini project. I thought Id try a mocked up version first, to see if its a good idea, before trucking my larger equipment to the shore.

Feeling free as the seagulls hovering in the wind, and happy about the secluded beach, it occurred to me that I could easily be a hermit too. But those thoughts are the focus for another day. 

published in the South Shore Breaker - June 21, 2017 


  1. As soon as I read the part about "spidery legs", I knew exactly why the hermit was flung away!
    Hope to see you soon!

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