Each week I have the privilege of looking through the many photos were receive for our “Scene Around” page.
Initiated on a whim, I mean a whim, the page has become the most-popular and most-read page in the paper each week and the array of folks, locals to visitors, who share photos is astounding and deeply appreciated.
However, with all those shots of nature, of the objects in them I am not an expert.
I am a “blow-in,” despite living in this community for nearly two decades.
I grew up in a big city, about the only bit of wildlife I can remember were the field rats we tried to pelt with rocks along the railroad tracks.
So, if a photographer identifies the species of animal or bird in their photo, far be it from me to disagree, even I might have an inkling.
Of course, if the mistake was obvious, I would not label what I knew to be a deer a hippopotamus, but the vast variety of wildlife; birds in particular, leave me flailing for identifying names.
Take a look at the guide to North American birds sometime; my, Lord, the difference species of buntings, sparrows and wrens would make one dizzy.
Anyway, last week, we, I, published a photo that was identified, by one of the top submitters for that page, as three snowy plovers on the beach.
I never thought another thing about it until a member of Barbara Eells’ army of turtle and shorebird volunteers zipping over a message noting that the birds were in fact sanderlings.
And, he added in so many words with a metaphorical elbow to the ribs, did I really want to disappoint Ms. Eells in such a way.
This, of course, for me ratcheted up the mistake by degrees.
Ms. Eells is, she would be horrified, I am sure, one of my local heroes.
One of those people who goes about her day with a deep well of faith and a passion beyond any passion I have known for the wildlife of this area.
She cares for her community, the one outside your doorway, like no one other and her dedication is something this community should get around to honoring one of these days.
She can spot and identify a bird and take personal ownership on the spot.
She is not just a league of her own, she is the major leagues.
And, to top that off, it was just a year ago that Ms. Eells allowed me on one of her morning nesting shorebird surveys and we were looking for the nests of a snowy plover.
I should know that Sanderlings are the little birds one sees feeding in the surf, not all that shy but not a bird you can get near.
If you have seen a snowy plover, far shyer, that is a treat.
As for today, there are four fledglings on a section of beach Eells likes to keep secret and I will honor that.
Last week, there were five new chicks from two nests.
She spotted two chicks swimming across a creek, photos of which are here.
But there are also quite a few birds missing since the storm, including “my old man and another male and female I usually have for nesting,” Eells said.
The hope is they show up in a data base somewhere in Florida.
My hope is she will accept my apology; plovers and sanderlings, I at least know the difference between those two.