I’m not sure what better way there is to spend a rainy day than to get caught up on some photo editing and storytelling. Lately, I have had plenty of gumption to get out there and take the images, but I have not had any patience to sit here in front of my computer and work on them. I guess maybe since it has been so nice here lately I just want to be outside as much as I possibly can. Today, though, phew! Cold and rain and wind! It’s 23 degrees colder than yesterday. 

I have been able to get out a bit after work the last week or so. I’ve finally gotten to the OSV a couple of times, and even took a couple of walks to the north end of the Island, too. This is the first year that I’ve really noticed the beautiful goldenrod that is lining the dunes along the beach. Actually, in past years I've rarely been down this time of year. Usually I wait until the first frost to really start hiking, and this week in particular my wife and I would usually be in Maine. But, due to Covid restrictions etc, we decided to cancel our trip to the Pine Tree State this year. All that combined with moving to Berlin this year has given me my first chance to get out there earlier this fall and enjoy it. Well, most of it. The mosquitoes are still hungry!  

A week ago I decided to head north on a beautiful Friday afternoon and evening. I got all packed up and decided I would just keep walking until I found Chestnut. I started walking up the beach and very quickly got sidetracked by six great blue herons resting on the beach together. This I have never seen. I assumed it was some sort of gathering for either migration or breeding, but I’m no means a bird expert. I did enjoy taking their image, though, and practiced using my camera’s autofocus system as they flew as I continued to get familiar with my camera. 

I kept walking, and crisscrossed the Island a couple of times looking for Chestnut and his band. Sometimes, they can be very difficult to find and that trek last Friday was one of those times. I did find some interesting things though. Over on the bayside, thousands of jellyfish were washing up. I also found some impressions in the sand of what I assumed were made by jellyfish. However, my friends and I are befuddled on how they were made. It was as if the weight of the jellyfish pushed down into the sand hard enough to collapse it, leave the impression and then totally disappear. We are perplexed, but I took an image of it so check it out and let me know what you think. 

As I was crisscrossing the Island, I also found a pile of bones. Not ordinary bones, at all. But very large bones. Much larger than any land creature on the Island, so I am thinking whale bones? Again, asking for some help here, so take a look at the images if you can. 

I also got taken by all the monarch butterflies fluttering and floating through the air whimsically landing on the delicate goldenrod flowers. After getting to about the 3 km and not yet seeing Chestnut, I decided to divert my attention to the butterflies. I had taken quite a few images before I finally got a couple of nice images of the monarchs flapping their wings in the air. It was nearly dark before I realized it and was still quite a ways from the car. I hoofed it back and upon my return my watch tracked the trek at 8.98 miles. All of that and no Chestnut. 

I also made it down the OSV a few times this week. I have some trails marked on my GPS that get me back to areas where Charcoal, Dewey and Foxy’s Gift are usually found, but I left the GPS at home. I have to tell you that when you think you are in the right area and start back to the marsh from the OSV, don’t take it for granted you will so easily just get where you think you need to be. Breaking through some of that scrub is nearly impossible. I have been on my hands and knees crawling under branches, ripped my clothes getting through thorn bushes, and have walked through realms that reminded me of Dagobah, Yoda’s mysterious planet filled with bog-like swamps and forests. I have to break my GoPro out sometime; the backcountry of Assateague is just amazing. 

Anyway, I wasn’t able to find Charcoal on my first time out, but I duplicated the effort a few days later and found him right where he usually hangs. He had his girls Tipperary and Sonja with him. They all look good albeit the age of 30 year old Tippy. 

I haven’t seen Dewey since this summer when I took my skiff south but found him yesterday. He and his mares, Sienna Belle and Chica Linda, all look well then except for their relentless battle with the summertime flies. 

Dewey lives in a really wet part of the marsh and getting to him just all depends on how far out he decides to roam. I started back on one of the trails I have marked but could see when I got back to the marsh that was about half a mile to the south. I attempted to get over to him while tracing the inside edge of the marsh but was met with a couple of waterways, one of which I just could not cross. I then returned to the trail, headed out back towards the beach, but once I got to the old Bayberry Road, I decided to walk it to where I thought he would be and try again.  

I soon found an old trail in the general location of where I thought he would be and started back to the marsh on it. Breaking through cobweb after cobweb, I finally made it to the forest that I had to walk through that would lead me to the marsh. As I did, a great blue heron came crashing out of the pine trees directly in front of me making its gutteral alert call as it flew right at me before making a turn to head north. I wish I had seen him before he flew, that would have made an incredible shot. 

I worked my way through the forest spotting a whitetail deer foraging along an opening in the pine trees. It was warm and quiet, just the roar of the ocean behind me. It’s funny, I use the sound of the ocean quite a bit as my ‘which way I need to go’ guide, especially when you are in the thickets and have no idea which way is up. 

Once I got out to the marsh a bald eagle took flight from some pine trees farther to the south. But, Dewey was close now, and I was on the other side of the waterway I wasn’t able to cross earlier. I trekked another couple of hundred yards through the very soggy marsh and finally got my chance to say hello to the beautiful blue-eyed stallion. 

And during my trips up and down the OSV I have bumped into Jojo and her colt (seemingly all alone), Assateague Lightning, Mr. Frisky Hooves and Bayberry. They are all home for the winter, so it seems. 

It’s been a fun week exploring. I’m sad to see next week come as I know it will have to end and my friends camping in the state park will have to leave for the season. But, it has been a lot of fun this year. And, when winter comes who knows what one could find while out exploring. 

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