Gina’s Sable Island PhotoBlog, October 2018 – January 2019

Image above: Snow on the north beach in December, early morning.

October 4, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.2 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 5.6; temperature maximum 19.7°C and minimum 15.5°C; with a peak wind of 26 knots easterly (ESE 110°).

On October 3rd, I returned to Sable Island to begin my October-January work tour, my 24th Sable tour with the Meteorological Service of Canada.

The three photos above are a sequence showing ocean water carrying sand as it splashes up over the berm on the south beach.

Bubbly, bright green algae on the surface of a saltwater pond between West Light and the Sable Island Station.

Looking towards the east through a fog bow. Some buildings of the Sable Island Station are in the distance.

October 5, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; some fog; sunshine hours 2.1; temperature maximum 18.5°C and minimum 12.2°C; with a peak wind of 26 knots northeasterly (NE 040°).

Grey seals in the surf zone along the north beach—watching the photographer.

Grey seals in the surf zone—waves breaking on the north beach.

Beach grass in seed. The seeds are an important food for Ipswich Sparrows as well as for other birds such as Snow Buntings which occur on the island during winter.

A stinkhorn fungus, about 10 cm high, growing up between the slats of a wooden walkway at the Sable Island Station. On the island, this fragile species is more often found growing in the moist shelter of dense stands of beach grass. The dark olive-brown paste covering the upper end of the stinkhorn is a spore-bearing matter which has a smell said to be irresistible to insects. The insects carry the spores on their bodies and in their guts, and thus help to distribute them.

October 6, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 8.0; temperature maximum 14.4°C and minimum 8.9°C; with a peak wind of 25 knots northeasterly (NNE 020°).

Pearly Everlasting—when the flowers are fresh, the centres are bright sunshine yellow.

Patches of algae floating on the surface of a freshwater pond.

October 7, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 2.5; temperature maximum 16.9°C and minimum 9.3°C; with a peak wind of 19 knots northerly (N 010°).

Pattern on the carapace of a Rock Crab. Crab exoskeletons—sometimes entire, sometimes in bits and pieces (e.g., legs, claws, antennae, plastron sections) are commonly found on the beach.

October 8, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 3.9; temperature maximum 13.5°C and minimum 6.5°C; with a peak wind of 21 knots northeasterly (NNE 030°).

Fragment of a sea snail shell.

Goose barnacles (also called stalked barnacles or gooseneck barnacles) attached to seaweed washed ashore.

Tiny blue plastic fragments scattered amongst larger sand grains on the beach, carried in by a recent tide.

Looking very much like Sponge Candy, sea foam dries on north beach.

October 9, 2018

Weather summary for this date: trace of rain; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 15.2°C and minimum 5.1°C; with a peak wind of 29 knots westerley (WSW 240°).

A fish bone picked clean by small scavengers.

A young horse (born in early summer) ventures into the edge of the water along the north beach.

October 10, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; some fog; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 16.9°C and minimum 10.1°C; with a peak wind of 26 knots westerley (W 270°).

A beach hopper. Although sometimes called ‘sand fleas’, beach hoppers are not insects. This tiny but abundant beach creature is a crustacean (in a group called amphipods) and is related to shrimp. The hoppers are scavengers and don’t bite (although this individual seems to be glaring ferociously at the photographer).

October 12, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 63.2 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 18.0°C and minimum 12.3°C; with a peak wind of 50 knots northwesterly (NW 320°).

During a wet and windy day, a Sable Island horse finds convenient shelter on the concrete platform at the east door of a storage building at the Sable Island Station.

October 13, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 56.6 mm; sunshine hours 3.2; temperature maximum 14.6°C and minimum 9.6°C; with a peak wind of 30 knots westerley (WNW 300°).

Sable Island horses grazing on a south-facing slope of beach pea and marram grass.

Horses on a dune covered with beach grass, yarrow and Seaside Goldenrod.

October 22, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 2.6 mm; sunshine hours 2.2; temperature maximum 8.8°C and minimum 5.8°C; with a peak wind of 28 knots westerly (W 270°).

A section of bones from a whale’s front flipper (‘hand’ bones), washed ashore on north beach.

October 23, 2018

Weather summary for this date: trace of rain; sunshine hours 5.2; temperature maximum 12.0°C and minimum 6.6°C; with a peak wind of 25 knots easterly (E 100°).

A juvenile Northern Gannet on north beach. Although the young birds are dark grey with white speckling, the adults are strikingly white with black wingtips and pale rusty-yellow coloured plumage on the head. This species, having a wingspan of up to 180 cm (71 inches), is the largest seabird in the North Atlantic.

October 27, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.2 mm; sunshine hours 1.7; temperature maximum 11.9°C and minimum 0.9°C; with a peak wind of 35 knots easterly (E 100°).

Shown in the two photos above, moist sand sculpted by the wind.

The three photos above show fine dark grains of heavy mineral sands sorted into patterns by wind and waves.

A fragment of beach grass exposed by wind blowing through vegetation.

Looking a little like eggs in a sandy nest, plastic net floats (each about 20 cm in diameter, and roped together) were cast onto the dune by high waves and settled in vegetation near the edge of south beach.

A plastic lid washed ashore and blown inland into a patch of wild rose and bayberry.

Twigs, juncus fragments, cranberry leaves and berries, and a small cluster of balls of white polystyrene, floating in an eddy of floodwater.

October 30, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 1.0 mm; sunshine hours 4.2; temperature maximum 13.7°C and minimum 9.8°C; with a peak wind of 21 knots westerly (W 270°).

November 1, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.2 mm; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 12.9°C and minimum 7.6°C; with a peak wind of 17 knots northwesterly (NW 320°).

A ripple pattern of dry, windblown sand.

One of a few tangles of seaweed washed ashore.

November 2, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.4 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 3.2; temperature maximum 15.2°C and minimum 11.3°C; with a peak wind of 25 knots southwesterly (SSW 200°).

Seeds and sand grains tumbled into a thin driftline on the beach.

November 3, 2018

Weather summary for this date: trace of rain; sunshine hours 3.2; temperature maximum 16.6°C and minimum 11.9°C; with a peak wind of 39 knots westerly (W 260°).

At the Sable Island Station, a seven-spot lady beetle is on the rubber tread of a step, in the sun and out of the wind.

Along a walkway near the MSC operations building, moss (a species common on the island) forms a small carpet.

Tiny mounds of sand on the beach.

November 5, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 4.6; temperature maximum 9.6°C and minimum 6.4°C; with a peak wind of 21 knots northerly (N 350°).

Fall colours.

November 7, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 1.6 mm; sunshine hours 0.9; temperature maximum 15.1°C and minimum 11.0°C; with a peak wind of 30 knots westerly (W 260°).

Wet sand, made nubbly by gentle saltwater washover.

A marine bristle worm (or polychaete) washed up on north beach, still alive but likely to be eaten soon by a scavenging gull.

November 9, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 7.6; temperature maximum 11.3°C and minimum 6.1°C; with a peak wind of 23 knots northwesterly (NW 310°).

An inland field of beach grass west of the Sable Island Station. The track of an old road is still visible.

November 20, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 10.0 mm; some fog; sunshine hours 0.5; temperature maximum 10.9°C and minimum 7.4°C; with a peak wind of 18 knots southeasterly (SE 130°).

Gull tracks amongst fragments of shells (surf and razor clams, and mussel, scallop, and oyster) and small pebbles left scattered along the high tide line by the retreating waves.

A delicate beach flower—white plastic, about 3 cm across.

November 22, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 3.0 mm; sunshine hours 1.2; temperature maximum 7.1°C and minimum -6.6°C; with a peak wind of 37 knots westerly (W 280°).

At 11:05 pm, although not visible to the naked eye, a phone photo revealed that a noise in the dark was a Sable Island horse grazing near MSC’s accommodations building.

November 25, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 6.1°C and minimum 0.4°C; with a peak wind of 40 knots easterly (ENE 060°).

Remains of some wooden fencing installed decades ago across the end of a blowout to reduce erosion just inside the north beach dune line near the West Light tower (in the background).

More carving and sculpting by the wind.

November 29, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 44.0 mm; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 5.4°C and minimum 1.5°C; with a peak wind of 48 knots northwesterly (NW 320°).

On the inside slope of a north beach dune, beach grass buried by windblown sand during a wet and stormy day.

December 1, 2018

Weather summary for this date: rain 0.2 mm; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 3.1°C and minimum 1.2°C; with a peak wind of 21 knots northerly (NNW 340°).

The north beach at low tide.

A painted polystyrene float washed ashore in a tangle of beach grass fragments on the north beach.

Golden leaves of beach grass in winter.

December 2, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; some fog; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 7.4°C and minimum 0.8°C; with a peak wind of 29 knots southeasterly (SE 130°).

South beach on a grey day at noon.

Beached debris. Lost balls of all kinds are carried in by the waves.

As the wind blows sand away, buried materials are exposed on the sand surface: fragments of wood, rusted metal, and glass, a small piece of coal, and a plastic casing from a shotgun shell.

A blowout cutting through a south beach dune.

Blowing wind has carried away drier sand grains, leaving lumps and pillars of moist sand behind.

A sand muffin.

December 7, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 7.7; temperature maximum 3.7°C and minimum 0.9°C; with a peak wind of 26 knots northerly (W 280°).

A thin layer of snow on north beach at 9:55 am, beginning to melt in the morning sunshine.

The edge of the thin snow cover retreats.

A pattern of sand and snow.

On north beach, the snow has mostly melted away within a few hours.

One of a few oranges that washed ashore on the north beach overnight. Beached fruit and vegetables commonly occur in small numbers, but are seldom tasted. Many years ago a jug of top quality lemonade was made from a dozen beachcast lemons.

A ripple pattern in sand created by water flowing over the beach.

The shells of a surf clam and a bay scallop. The pattern of lines was formed as wind gently moved the scallop shell over the wet sand surface.

Likewise, the single line was created by the movement of the crab claw over the sand surface.

An Atlantic Surf Clam, washed ashore on north beach. The clam’s foot reaches out, probing for  more suitable conditions—these clams live buried in sand on the ocean bottom, offshore and sometimes in surf zones.

December 16, 2018

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 7.4; temperature maximum 3.7°C and minimum -0.1°C; with a peak wind of 22 knots northerly (NNW 330°).

A very thin layer of ice covers part of a shallow, sandy-bottomed pond, just east of West Light.

Just after 4:00 pm, looking towards the south from Sable Island.

December 21, 2018

Weather summary for this date: trace of rain; some fog and thunder storm activity; sunshine hours 2.3; temperature maximum 7.3°C and minimum -4.0°C; with a peak wind of 27 knots northerly (SE 140°).

Details of the Scots Pine, located at the eastern end of Pinetree Pond West. Although there are a couple of small alder twiglings hidden in the beach grass, the pine is Sable Island’s tree.

December 24, 2018

Weather summary for this date: trace of rain; sunshine hours 2.4; temperature maximum 2.2°C and minimum -1.2°C; with a peak wind of 15 knots northerly (NNW 290°).

A view to the east, from a site a few kilometres east of the station. The area of water shown in the right side of the photo is actually the wide south beach (also known as the Sandy Plain) flooded by ocean overwash. This flooding is a common occurrence in winter and also sometimes during and after tropical storms.

Two Grey Seals in the relatively calm floodwater on the south beach (as shown above). The pale horizontal line in the distance is the south beach berm (it is wider than it looks) with breaking waves and open ocean.

Rusted metal along the edge of the old helicopter landing pad 1.5 km east of the Sable Island Station—colonized by moss and lichen.

December 28, 2018

Weather summary for this date: trace of precipitation; sunshine hours 2.0; temperature maximum 1.9°C and minimum -5.5°C; with a peak wind of 35 knots southerly (SSE 150°).

A ripe and icy cranberry.

January 3, 2019

Weather summary for this date: no rain; sunshine hours 0.0; temperature maximum 0.3°C and minimum -6.2°C; with a peak wind of 20 knots westerly (WNW 340°).

On a steep slope just behind some ragged winter stems of beach grass and goldenrod, the slipping sand has created a pattern,  a picture of a stand of yarrow plants.

My tour was scheduled to end on January 9th, but I was delayed by weather until the 12th. Then I returned to home in Pictou County to prepare for my trip to South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and the Netherlands. I am scheduled to return to Sable Island on April 3rd 2019.

Gina Little’s Sable Island PhotoBlog, October 2018 – January 2019
Prepared for the Sable Island Institute

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

 

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