One of my favorite parts of our visit to Ocean City, New Jersey was the nature walk. The guide taught us a lot about plants, shells and birds. For a tiny fee ($1.00 for adults, 50 cents for kids), you can go on a nature walk on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings. This one on Tuesday morning was on the south side of Ocean City by Corson’s Inlet State Park. It’s good that this area is preserved (established in 1969), because you can see lots of development to the north and south of this area.
I don’t remember the names of all the plants she showed us by the beach. There was a lot of poison ivy. Here is a informative web page on plants of the Eastern Atlantic Coast.
These bayberry bushes with missing leaves were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. They seem to be slowly growing back. In general, our tour guide said, the foliage by the beach was changed by the hurricane.
This area was greatly effected by Hurricane Sandy. One woman said it was because the water came in from the bay and from the ocean. Some streets were hit more than others. In the picture above, you see rocks; before Sandy, said our tour guide, this was covered in sand. There also used to be a fishing pier here, although it had already been damaged before the storm. Now there are just a few remaining poles left to what was the pier.
We were accompanied on our walk by these smallish white and brown birds. I think the whiter ones are plovers and the ones with brown are sanderlings. Our guide said they had not been here the day before. They seem to find some sea food (snails?) on the edge of the ocean. Assuming they are migrating, I was trying to figure out (by reading web pages) where they might be on their migrating route in late August, but I couldn’t figure much out.
I believe our guide said the brown gull is a juvenile – it keeps those brown feathers for two years. The one in the front is an adult gull. Our guide knew the difference between the laughing gull and other gulls, but I don’t remember the details, sigh.
The moon snail was an important player on our nature walk. It seems that the moon snail feeds voraciously on clams, and it creates what our guide called the “perfect hole” in the clam shell. She gave out ribbons to the kids so they could string some of the shells they found. My daughter made a little necklace.
She also showed us what protects the inside of a snail shell called an operculum (literally means little lid). You can actually find an operculum on the beach sometimes – they are hardened when off the snail, no longer the rubbery protection when on the snail.
This hole, on the other hand, is rough and was probably created by a pecking bird.
I believe these large shells are called whelks (and not a conch). The knobbed whelk is the state shell of New Jersey (did you know states have state shells?).
She showed us the shell of a small horseshoe crab. The tail is very important to the horseshoe crab, she taught us, because it uses it for guidance through the beach and for flipping back to right side up if necessary.
Look how many different birds were in front of us! I think there are gulls, plovers and sanderlings.
My husband could have gone on this hike after the beach nature walk on the trail through Corson’s Inlet State Park, but my kids had had enough. We went back to our hotel and had lunch.