Sunday, March 18, 2012

November Morning Light on Captain Sams Spit & Bird Banding Too! -- Part One

Kiawah Island -- First Light -- November 12, 2011

            By mid-November, most migrating birds had passed through and thus the activity at Aaron Given's (wildlife biologist for Kiawah Island) bird banding station on Captain Sams Spit on Kiawah had become less intense.  Nonetheless, I volunteered to join Aaron to help him again at the nets on November 12, 2011.  If you missed the previous posts on Aaron's bird banding activity, these links below will take you there.  These posts describe in detail the why and wherefore of bird banding, Aaron's objectives as a wildlife biologist for the Town of Kiawah Island and the how-tos of bird banding:

Birding Up Close and Personal -- Bird Banding 101 -- Part 1
Birding Up Close and Personal -- Bird Banding 101 -- Part 2

          As it turned out, on that morning, Aaron had a couple more volunteers with him, his wife Amy and a colleague of hers from her job.  This translated into a light duty load for me and more time to enjoy the early morning sunrise on the beach and then the early morning light on other parts of the spit.  Certainly, I used this free time to try to capture the serenity and beauty of the fabulous light and scenery.  First, the sunrise became better as the sky lightened from a bright orange and royal blue to more of a peachy, pinky haze which then was reflected in the thin, receding backwash of the advancing waves.  The color of the ocean had brightened from deep purple to a rich lavender, which was then delicately topped in still a lighter hue from the mist rising off of the warmer water into the cold air.

Kiawah Island at First Light -- November 12, 2011

            The light was changing quickly, yet subtly with every moment offering a new and different perspective -- all of it ephemeral.  I heard the familiar sound of dolphin exhaling as they surfaced, passing me beyond the breaking waves.

Bottlenosed Dolphin passing at first light -- Kiawah Island -- November 12, 2011
Then I began to notice the birds moving past me in the orange to pink backwash of the wave action as the color of the surf began to change from slate gray to pale gray.

Passing Willet -- Kiawah Island at First Light -- November 12, 2011
 These early morning sentinels gave me side-long, dubious glances.  Surely they were wondering about my unusual presence in their early morning routine of running the beach at sunrise.

Shorebirds at First Light on Kiawah Island -- November 12, 2011
Willets and/or Marbled Godwits at First Light on Kiawah Island -- November 12, 2011

Willets at First light on Kiawah Island -- November 12, 2011

            Such an exquisite moment, this symphony of sensory perceptions -- the cold air on my cheeks, the soft sound of the waves and the exhaling dolphin, the light chips of shorebirds, the taste and smell of the salt air, and the luminous, soft pastels of the sky reflected in the film of water down the beach edging the lavendar-gray of the ocean -- it was exhilarating!  In that moment, I was filled with deep feelings of peacefulness, gratitude, awe and respect for the powerful beauty of nature and also a sense of belonging in my Lowcountry birthpace.  This is home!

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