The Coast Walk Project

Coast Walk 14: East Point to Seal Harbor Town Dock

CW 14 copy

December 4, 9:30am. 33 degrees, light breeze from the south. The morning started out sunny with puffy clouds but by 9:30 it was overcast and the air smelled like snow. There were occasional patches of sunshine as the clouds moved. Red Squirrel, juvenile Common Loon eating a sea star (or maybe a crab); 2 duck-type birds too far off to identify, juvenile Herring Gull.

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Today’s walk was backwards – I started at the Seal Harbor Town Dock and headed south along the shore (again, with permission to access private property.)

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This was a classic Seal Harbor estate, with the most beautiful 19th century stonework and perfectly groomed woodlands, gorgeous even in December.

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I kept looking over the wall, trying to find a place to reach the shore, but it was just a little too high and a little too slippery to jump. But I did notice this cool calcite crust forming where the calcium carbonate in the mortar has been leaching out. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a baby stalagmite, but it’s the same process at work.

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Some of you know that one of my personas is “landscape architect.” I’m afraid from the moment I saw these stairs:

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my artist/explorer hat came off and the landscape architect hat went on, and I wandered along the most marvelous path that ran through the woods

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and along the cliffs.

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I also spent a lot of time trying to identify the plants I saw, which is exponentially harder in winter. Pretty sure this is a viburnum, but I couldn’t tell you which:

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There were Pitch Pines

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of extraordinary size

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wild roses (Rosa carolina, which is native to North America, unlike the more common rugosas)

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and this awesome little fungus growing on the roots of a pitch pine. This is the Orange Jelly Fungus (Dacrymyces palmatus) and it only grows on conifers. Apparently there’s a similar fungus that only grows on hardwood.

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I didn’t see a lot of wildlife, except for a few red squirrels,

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but I did find what I think was a chipmunk burrow. I didn’t think chipmunks ate pine nuts (that’s a squirrel thing) but squirrels don’t go underground, so maybe there’s a squirrel in the tree above throwing its food wrappers down on the chipmunk’s front door.

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I also saw a Common Loon. It think it was a juvenile, but it could also have been an adult in its winter plumage. There’s almost always at least one loon on the water whenever I go out, and a couple of times I could swear they’ve followed me. I’d always thought of them as lake birds, but they spend their first couple of years on the ocean.

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This area is called Ringing Point, and I’m a little embarrassed that I’d been wandering along listening to the sound of the buoy for a good forty minutes before that light bulb went off:

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The pink granite cliffs were cleft into all kinds of cool formations:

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which continued up into the woods:

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I spotted a pretty impressive erratic:

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Looking across the harbor at Crowninshield Point and wondering how long it will be before I explore over there:

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You may have noticed that I was so bewitched by the woods and the views that I never did climb down to the shore.

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Oops.

 

 

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