For me, St. Simons meant birds. They were everywhere—on the beach, in the marsh, in our neighborhood, and in the village. They fluttered, called, preened, sang, strutted, fished, hammered, and, at times seemed to pose. Many nights, we were kept awake by two owls calling back and forth from the dense live oaks in the neighborhood (go to sleep, already!!).
Every morning, the tentative bits of bird song signaled that—although it was still dark—the sun was about to rise. All day long, their calls accompanied us—the cardinals’ rhythmic chip and liquid song, the doves’ oo-oo, the sparrows’ chatter, and the ospreys’ skreeee—eek, causing the marsh birds to scatter—flying up, circling around, and settling back down.
The shore birds were more stolid, hunkered down against the cold or pecking at critters in the sand and waves. They only became skittish if I got close, so we played a cat and mouse game where I would learn how close I could approach before they took off and moved another ten feet down the beach.
The salt inlet at the end of the beach was a feeding mecca for a variety of birds scooping up the little minnows and larger mullet. This elegant beauty (I assume it’s a tern or gull, but don’t know what kind … I’ll call it the blackdot cheeky terngull) did a beautiful fluttering hover and dive, over and over again. During our last week on the island, this oystercatcher couple appeared on the rocks. One sported multiple bands, the other none. The banded one must be older or stupider, or both.
Just birds–but such a variety–interesting, noisy, colorful, entertaining, awkward, graceful, and beautiful.