Red Knots on the river bank. (Photo By Anton Dumars)
By Anton Dumars | Contributing Writer
Rain blasts the metal roof in spasms as windblown trees whip about just outside in the darkness. At five in the morning, another nor’easter assaults Folly Island.
As if traveling around the calendar on vacation, we visit each month with expectations. Most months provide a stable dwelling, giving us little surprise. “Sit down and have a beer,” says January. “Please give my best to February and April when you see them, but don’t mention me to March… he’s been on a rampage again.” Stoic and predictable, February delivers cold and rain. April always paints a colorful landscape. In between the two, March remains ill defined and unpredictable. Some call March February’s schizophrenic brother.
By the time March arrives in the salt marsh, bright green spartina sprigs push up through the pluff mud. Last year’s dead, brittle grass towers overhead. Soon, March’s supersized Perigean flood tides raft the dead grass away from the marsh. Ebbing tides take the large spartina rafts out to sea through the inlets. From here, wind and waves distribute the rafts along the beaches as dune-building wrack.
By March, the annual “changing of the birds” has begun. By mid-March, black skimmers appear in numbers on the mud flats. Royal terns follow. V shaped cormorant formations head back north along the Atlantic coastline.
The Vernal Equinox overturns night with day, just as the long-range migrators begin passing through. Red knots, black-belly plovers, and whimbrels, among others, arrive en route from southern South America.
Dressed in full breeding plumage, they line the upper beach face and gorge on freshly laid horseshoe crab eggs. From here, they head north, on to food-rich summer nesting grounds above the Arctic Circle. As if following the arc of the sun, these birds chase the longest days from one pole to the other every year.
Now daylight, oak tree branches move wildly about against a cold, gray sky. Rain drips from the metal roof eaves. Weary of winter, we optimistically wait out another week of cold and rain. March, predictably unpredictable, swings its temperature 40 degrees in 24 hours. Just like last year, and the year before that, February sends us headlong into March’s chaos. We move forward in blind faith, believing that April waits, cloaked and smiling.
Anton owns and operates Tideline Tours located at 103 East Cooper on Folly Beach. Come by for a visit or sign up for a Tideline Adventure! Visit http://tidelinetours.com or email Anton at email@example.com or call 843-813-5009