Cumberland Island - Dungeness Beach

by Bethany Plonski July. 23, 2019 395 views

The second-to-last leg of our hike brought us out of the salt marsh through dunes and scrub forest to Dungeness Beach on the western side of the island. This was the first time in my life that I've been on a beach where there were no houses or other buildings in view.

The beaches on Cumberland Island are important for all kinds of wildlife, including loggerhead turtles. We saw lots of nests like this one marked and numbered along the beach. The park website says there are about 885 nests as of mid-July, which is a record number for them. The turtles nest in three-year cycles, and this is a peak year.

We also saw a bunch of sea birds - an osprey diving, a great egret, some oystercatchers, and lots of pelicans, gulls, and small birds. Definitely some moments when I wished I'd been prepared with my other zoom lens.

American oystercatchers

American oystercatchers

Hard to tell, but I think this might be a killdeer

Hard to tell, but I think this might be a killdeer

One of my favorite parts of the beach was all the vegetation. I was expecting it to look like the beaches I've visited before in Florida, but there are clear differences in the types of plants that grow on the dunes.

Sabatia stellaris (sea pinks)

Sabatia stellaris (sea pinks)

It was a lovely surprise to see morning glory vines growing all over the beach. The day before, we had seen few white morning glories on St. Simon's Island, but the pink flowers on Cumberland were especially beautiful. We were lucky to visit when it was cool and overcast, because the flowers close up in the heat of the day.

I loved watching the ghost crabs skitter across the beach. They seem alternately shy and curious, like they want to know what you are doing, but once they realize you are watching them, they start playing hide and seek in the sand. This one was nice enough to pose for a photo, although with his claws all drawn up like that, I think he looks a little bit crabby. ;) Har har.

And then there's the sad fate of many a horseshoe crab. Well...I say that and remember that some horseshoe crabs have a much stranger fate than washing up dead on a beach.Who knew crab-bleeding was a thing?

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Andi Saw 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm totally in love with the crab picture! blue heart

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Andi Saw 1 year, 6 months ago

I love that one too. They were so cute, always sneaking around popping up out of the sand. smile

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Tsao T-F 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you for sharing, including the story of living fossils, #18.

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Tsao T-F 1 year, 6 months ago

Glad to share. I have always been curious about horseshoe crabs ever since I was little and remember seeing them on the beaches. They are fascinating creatures, but what a strange thing about their blood.

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Tsao T-F Replied to Bethany Plonski 1 year, 6 months ago

grinning

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith 1 year, 6 months ago

Beautiful series :)

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Russell Smith 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you!

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Pete 1 year, 6 months ago

great set. Thank you for the walk along

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Pete 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you, Pete! smile

1 year, 6 months ago Edited
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