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A Winter Walk on the Beach: Look What the Storm Washed In


Posted 2/26/07
By Jane Kashlak

Cape May, NJ - Nothing like a brisk winter walk on the beach to clear those cobwebs.

In one of our favorite winter drills, we park the car in the virtually abandoned Cape May Point State Park parking lot, and walk the beach toward Cape May.

It never looks the same twice.

Take yesterday. A day after the area was hit by strong easterly winds, the beach was carpeted with seaweed and birds.

The mile of soft, brown seaweed, so thick in spots it felt like we were walking on pillows, stretched from the State Park beach to the Cove.

Bonaparte's gulls on the beach

Close at hand, hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls and some Ruddy Turnstones (I take my beach walks with a birding expert) were picking through the mess, looking for a quick dinner. (Click here to read more about Bonaparte's gulls.)

If you squinted your eyes, you could see dozens of Scaup hugging the shoreline.

It was all very cozy and Disney-like. We even found an old fishing net that had washed ashore, with some tiny sea creatures living happily in the webbing.

Overnight, an entire ecosystem had taken over the beach - a brand new supermarket complete with stocked shelves and ready customers. Customers who were so ravenous they couldn't wait to tear into the food.

We're not used to seeing all this stuff on the beaches.

In the summer the local towns do a good job of keeping the beaches clean, so no one has to put their beach blanket on top of a foot of seaweed. I guess that's a good thing.

But if you want to see what the beaches really look like, au natural, before the big sand sweepers get fired up - take a winter beach walk.

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