Gina’s Sable Island Photoblog, July 2019

Image above: A cluster of grass pink orchids growing in a sheltered dune slack. This is the most colourful and abundant of the island’s orchid species.

My regular tour ended on June 26th, however, I agreed to an extension of four weeks. This is my photoblog for that month, my last tour on the island before the MSC’s aerology program (WSA Sable Island) came to an end.

July 3, 2019

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.2 mm; no fog; sunshine hours 10.4; temperature maximum 15.4°C and minimum 10.5°C; with a peak wind of 14 knots southwesterly (WSW 250°).

A soggy Red Admiral butterfly on the beach.

July 5, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 11.9; temperature maximum 18.0°C and minimum 9.8°C; with a peak wind of 16 knots southwesterly (WSW 250°).

The rusting hull of a whistle buoy that washed ashore on the north beach in February 2009.

A damselfly called a Familiar Bluet. Damselflies are similar to dragonflies, but are smaller with a slenderer body shape, and most damselfly species fold the wings along the body when at rest. This individual is a male. Males are often more brightly coloured than females.

A banded Ipswich Sparrow with three plastic bands (red-orange-orange) on its left leg, and one split plastic and one metal band on its right leg. The sparrows are banded as part of a research program led by Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

A stallion yawning with a blade of marram grass stuck between his teeth.

July 6, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain; some fog; sunshine hours 10.8; temperature maximum 17.1°C and minimum 13.3°C; with a peak wind of 24 knots southwesterly (SW 220°).

Blue Flag Iris in bloom in and around the shallow No2 Freshwater Pond. The pond is named for its proximity to the Old No2 Life Saving Station.

Blueberry flowers. Blueberry is widespread in sheltered shrub-heath areas on the island, often growing with wild rose, strawberry, aster, and marram and fescue grasses.

The grass pink orchid (Calopogon tuberosus) is a species native to North America and the northern Caribbean. On Sable Island it is most abundant in moist dune slack areas, growing amongst cranberry and juncus.

As a Sable Island horse grazes near a freshwater pond, in the distance south of the island, an industry workboat steams eastwards toward the Venture field.

A small piece of plastic pollution washed ashore on Sable Island—a toy soldier. Beached plastics are quantified and collected by the Sable Island Institute which is conducting a long term beach monitoring program on the island.

Terns foraging for fish along the island’s north shore.

July 7, 2019

Weather summary for this date: rain 3.8 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 8.1; temperature maximum 17.9°C and minimum 11.5°C; with a peak wind of 20 knots southwesterly (WSW 240°).

Claws (finger nails) on the front flipper of a mostly buried and decomposed grey seal corpse.

July 8, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 14.6; temperature maximum 17.8°C and minimum 11.5°C; with a peak wind of 15 knots southwesterly (SW 220°).

A warm summer sunset gleaming with fiery tones on the eroding slope of a north beach dune.

July 10, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 8.9; temperature maximum 19.5°C and minimum 12.2°C; with a peak wind of 19 knots northwesterly (NNW 330°).

Red-breasted Merganser female with nine ducklings on a freshwater pond. Black Duck, Mallard and Northern Pintail also nest on Sable Island.

Sable Island twilight, with (from left to right) the offshore energy platform Thebaud with its decks lit up, the “200 ft” communications tower near the West Light area, and the West Light tower. The latter is no longer operational. The light was turned off in July 2004.

July 11, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 7.6; temperature maximum 16.0°C and minimum 11.0°C; with a peak wind of 20 knots northwesterly (NW 320°).

A patch of silverweed, a salt-tolerant perennial plant in the rose family, common in pond edge areas.

A Sable Island horse rolling on moist sand near the edge of a freshwater pond.

A wharf borer beetle roaming over the sandblasted surface of a driftwood log. This insect belongs to a group commonly known as false blister beetles.

A calosoma ground beetle feeding on a june beetle. Both species are abundant, and they are the two largest beetles found on the island.

Sunset reflected in shallow swash zone water on north beach.

July 14, 2019

Weather summary for this date: trace of rain and some fog; sunshine hours 2.8; temperature maximum 17.1°C and minimum 11.9°C; with a peak wind of 18 knots southerly (S 170°).

A family band of Sable horses grazing and grooming in the richly vegetated terrain on the west spit. Another band is grazing on the dune line along the south beach.

A family band with three foals.

One of these youngsters is shedding its foal coat. The shedding is most noticeable on the face.

A juvenile Great Black-backed Gull appears to be looking with alarm at a breaking wave.

Caught by the breaker, the soggy young gull walks out of the water and regurgitates a bit of a recent meal.

July 16, 2019

Weather summary for this date: rain 1.6 mm; no fog; sunshine hours 7.7; temperature maximum 16.5°C and minimum 13.0°C; with a peak wind of 18 knots southwesterly (SW 230°).

As the wind blows the sand away, a large, unidentified item of rusted iron appears on a slope along the north beach.

Bur-reed, a perennial aquatic species, occurs in several freshwater ponds on Sable Island. The plant produces a floating stem with long, narrow, flattened leaves that are sometimes eaten by the horses.

A female Northern Pintail taking off from a freshwater pond. The number of Pintails nesting on Sable Island has declined.

A rich mix of plants, mostly fall dandelion (autumn hawkbit), yellow rattle, starry false Soloman’s seal, and red sorrel.

Blueberry, wild rose, strawberry, juniper and fescue foliage, with a fall dandelion flower and some buds.

July 18, 2019

Weather summary for this date: rain 26.6 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 8.5; temperature maximum 18.4°C and minimum 12.4°C; with a peak wind of 29 knots southwesterly (WSW 240°).

The Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder at sunset. The sunshine program is carried on by the Sable Island Institute.

July 19, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 12.0; temperature maximum 18.8°C and minimum 10.8°C; with a peak wind of 11 knots southeasterly (SE 140°).

A Common Tern flying back to its nesting colony with small fish (probably a sandlance).

Searocket is common on the beach, growing in well-drained sand above the range of waves and high tides. This species has thick, fleshy leaves that are often nibbled by horses ambling along the beach in summer.

A stand of rushes in the freshwater Mummichog Pond.

Wet, rusty-coloured sand along the edge of a pond.

A Sable Island horse galloping over the south beach—all four feet are off the ground.

July 20, 2019

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.2 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 10.9; temperature maximum 18.4°C and minimum 14.6°C; with a peak wind of 20 knots westerly (W 270°).

An isolated dune along the north beach.

A pile of chimney bricks just inside the north beach dune line indicates the location of the mostly-buried rubble of an old building that would have been in use during the years of the life-saving service.

Spout, handle and lid missing, an old copper kettle is revealed as sand is blown away by the wind.

Horses grooming each other near a freshwater pond. The younger horses look scruffy with mats and rags of winter coat still being shed.

A view from the top of a high bald dune, looking down into a sheltered, inland valley of beach grass and shrubs.

With a pleasant sea breeze on a warm day, an older stallion wanders across the wide bare sand area at the base of the bald dune.

A steep slope of sliding sand at the side of the bald dune.

Remains of old blocks (made of cement and pieces of brick) were likely part of the foundation of one of the life-saving station buildings in the No3 area.

A rusted iron ‘eye bolt’, and 100s of small flakes and fragments of rust, coal and ceramic, laying on the surface of wind-swept sand in the No3 station area.

Wild rose, pearly everlasting and marram grass foliage.

July 21, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 7.1; temperature maximum 19.9°C and minimum 14.7°C; with a peak wind of 20 knots westerly (W 280°).

A scruffy yearling wearing a coat of wads and tangles of shedding hair.

A male Eastern Forktail, one of five damselfly species recorded on Sable Island.

July 22, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain or fog; sunshine hours 12.2; temperature maximum 20.6°C and minimum 14.9°C; with a peak wind of 23 knots northwesterly (NW 310°).

Billowing in the wind, a spiderweb (spider in the centre) is attached to juncus plants.

Beach pea foliage. The abundant pea is an important forage plant for the Sable Island horses.

Sunset glowing through a stand of juncus.

July 23, 2019

Weather summary for this date: rain 4.0 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 1.6; temperature maximum 20.1°C and minimum 15.4°C; with a peak wind of 23 knots southwesterly (SW 220°).

Of the various structures at West Light, only the BIO House (formerly the light keeper’s residence) is visible in this thick late afternoon fog. (BIO – Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

A horse path through marram grass.

Remains of a building’s foundation in the Old Main Station area, made of cement with other materials included, such as clay bricks and fragments.

A warm and foggy day, three Great Black-backed Gulls and eleven Herring Gulls rest in an area where they had nested earlier in the summer.

Foliage of rugosa rose, an introduced species on Sable Island.

A beach pea tendril clasping a leaf of marram grass, a working relationship.

So ends my last tour of duty on Sable Island. After I left the island, the last upper air balloon was launched by my co-worker David Hartlin on August 20th. After 75 years of continuous service, MSC’s aerology program on Sable Island has ended.

Gina Little’s Sable Island PhotoBlog, July 2019
Prepared for the Sable Island Institute

See Gina’s PhotoBlogs for April-July, 2017 , October 2017 – January 2018, April-June, 2018, October 2018 – January 2019, and April-June 2019, and her contributor’s profile.

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