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SAND DUNES AND SALT MARSHES

BY

CHARLES WENDELL TOWNSEND, M. D.

AUTHOR OF “THE BIRDS OF ESSEX COUNTY,” “ALONG THE LABRADOR COAST,” 
“A LABRADOR SPRING,” AND “CAPTAIN CARTWRIGHT AND HIS LABRADOR JOURNAL”

With numerous Illustrations from Photographs

BOSTON
DANA ESTES & COMPANY
PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1913
BY DANA ESTES & COMPANY
THE COLONIAL PRESS
C. H. SIMONDS & CO., BOSTON, U. S. A.


THE LIGHTHOUSE IN THE DUNES


TO
My Wife




PREFACE

IN 1767 Gilbert White complained that he had none to share his tastes in natural history. He says: “For want of a com­panion to quicken my industry and sharpen my attention, I have made but slender prog­ress in a kind of information to which I have been attached from my childhood.” In these modern days, nature students are numerous and I have been blessed with friends who have appreciated to the full these dunes and marshes of Ipswich.

For the last twenty years I have spent most of my summer vacations at Ipswich and have made brief visits there as often as I could at other seasons, while almost twenty years be­fore that the birds of this Massachusetts coast began to claim my attention.

The opportunities for study are large in these regions, and my excuse for not having gone deeper in all these years, is that I have been of necessity a brief bird-of-passage in the dunes and marshes, but even with visits of a day’s duration one can in time cover every date in the calendar.

The formation of sand dunes and salt marshes is much the same the world over, while the animal and vegetable life of these regions is very similar on both sides of the North Atlantic. This book, therefore, should be of general and not merely local value, and is addressed to all lovers of seashore dunes and marshes and of their wild inhabitants.

I wish to express my indebtedness to Mr. Walter Deane for botanical identifications, and to Dr. Glover M. Allen for the identifi­cations of mammals. In matters ornitholog­ical I have tried to hold my own with several good friends, among them Mr. William Brew­ster, Dr. Walter Faxon, Mr. Ralph Hoffmann, Mr. Francis H. Allen, Dr. Glover M. Allen and Mr. A. C. Bent, all of whom at times have shared with me the pleasures of these regions.

Chapter XII, slightly modified, has already been published in the Auk of July, 1912, and I am indebted to the editor for permission to republish here.

Most of the illustrations are from my own photographs, but I am indebted for several to Dr. Glover M. Allen and to Mr. J. H. Emer­ton, and for one each to Mr. J. T. Morse and to Mr. F. B. McKechnie. To Mr. R. T. Crane, Jr., I am indebted for the photographs of the old maps. I wish also to express my thanks to Dr. Robert Swift for his drawings of seals and mushrooms, and to Dr. Glover M. Allen for his great kindness in reviewing the manu­script. To my wife and eldest daughter I am especially indebted for much patient and kindly criticism.

I have omitted all scientific names of ani­mals and plants from the text, but those so inclined will find them in the index.

I have sometimes been asked what I found of interest in the dunes and marshes. This little book is the answer.

BOSTON, January, 1913.


CONTENTS

        PREFACE

I.      SAND DUNES
II.     TRACKS AND TRACKING
III.    VEGETATION IN THE DUNES
IV.   LAND BIRDS OF THE DUNES
V.    SWALLOW ROOSTS AND SWALLOW MIGRATION
VI.   WATER BIRDS SEEN FROM THE DUNES
VII.  THE HARBOR SEAL
VIII.  SALT MARSHES
IX.   SALT MARSHES — THEIR PAST AND FUTURE
X.    BIRDS OF THE SALT MARSHES
XI.   THE HORSESHOE CRAB AND OTHER DENIZENS
                  OF SAND AND MUD
XII.  BIRD GENEALOGY

 


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

THE LIGHTHOUSE IN THE DUNES
THE BEACH AND THE SEA FROM THE DUNES         
THE LIGHTHOUSE IN THE SEA OF DUNES
A SMALL AMPHITHEATER IN THE DUNES
DUNES SHOWING WIND STRATIFICATIONS AND STEEP WINDWARD FACES
PITCH PINES AFTER THE DUNE HAS PASSED
PINES OVERWHELMED BY THE ADVANCING DUNE
ON THE EDGE OF THE BEACH
A PEAKED DUNE
SHOWING BOTH THE STEEP WINDWARD FACE BY CUTTING, AND THE GENTLE WIND-SWEPT SLOPE
THE OLD LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER AND SOME OF HIS FRIENDS
WRECK UNCOVERED AFTER MANY YEARS FAR IN THE DUNES, SHOWING ALSO RIPPLE-MARKS
THE HALF-BURIED APPLE ORCHARD IN 1892
ALL THAT REMAINED OF THE ORCHARD IN 1910
MAP OF CASTLE HILL FARM, 1846
MAP OF IPSWICH SAND DUNES, 1786
GLACIER DUNE SHOWING THE CRACKED SAND AND THE UNDERLYING SNOW
DUNE OVERWHELMING BIRCH GROVE, SHOWING THE STEEP LEEWARD SIDE
ICE WALL
ICE WALL
WRECK ON THE BEACH ABOVE THE ICE WALL
ICE WALL
DEER TRACKS
JACK RABBIT TRACKS, IPSWICH, 1903
TRACKS OF FOX AND CROWS
MUSKRAT TRACKS
TRACKS OF TOADS
TRACK OF SNAKE
TRACK OF MEADOW-MOUSE AND OF A WOOLLY BEAR CATERPILLAR
TRACKS OF WHITE-FOOTED MOUSE
SKUNK TRACKS
TRACKS OF A SKUNK IN A HURRY
TRACKS OF A CROW
HUDSONIA PLANTS, TRACKS OF WHITE-FOOTED MOUSE AND OF PHEASANT IN SOFT SAND
TRACKS AND EGGS OF PIPING PLOVER
TRACKS OF SAVANNAH SPARROW AND SAND DUNE SPIDER AND HOLE OF LATTER
TRACKS OF HORNED LARKS
SEASIDE GOLDENROD
TRACKS OF SNOW BUNTINGS
STAGHORN BEETLE AND TRACKS
TRACKS OF SAND DUNE GRASSHOPPERS
GROVE OF PITCH PINES
CLUMPS OF FRUITING BEACH GRASS. THE TIPS OF BURIED PINES BEARING CONES MAY BE SEEN IN THE
          FOREGROUND

SEASIDE GOLDENROD
THE BROWN MUSHROOM OF THE DUNES
SAND-STAR PUFFBALL
A CRANBERRY BOG IN THE DUNES WITH SINGLE PITCH PINE
CRANBERRY VINES ON THE SAND
BEACH PLUM BUSHES AT PLUM ISLAND
BAYBERRY IN WINTER
HUDSONIA AND ADVANCING DUNE
DINNER IN THE LEE OF THE PINES
THE ROAD TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
THE DUNES IN SUMMER
THE DUNES IN WINTER
TREE SWALLOWS INVESTIGATING A BIRDHOUSE
NESTS OF EAVE SWALLOWS ON AN OLD BARN
AN ANGLER FISH THROWN UP ON THE BEACH
TRACKS OF HERRING GULL MADE ON ALIGHTING ON THE BEACH
HERRING GULLS IN THE IPSWICH DUNES
THE WRECK OF THE SAND SCHOONER
THE WRECK A YEAR LATER
COURTSHIP POSE OF SHELLDRAKE. — COURTSHIP POSES OF WHISTLER   
WATCHING WATER BIRDS AND SEALS FROM THE WRECK
SKULL OF DOG AND OF SEAL. — GRASS BALLS
GROUP OF HAIR SEALS FROM IPSWICH
HARBOR SEALS
“CETUS CAPILLATUS” AND “MONSTRUM MARINUM”
A CREEK IN THE MARSHES
CUTTING THE MARSH HAY
BRINGING IN THE MARSH HAY
HARVESTING THE MARSH HAY
HAYSTACKS IN THE BROAD MARSH
HIGH TIDE. — TAKEN BY THE LIGHT OF THE FULL MOON
A STADDLE IN THE MARSH
LOW TIDE
HIGH TIDE
MARSH ISLANDS
THE MARSH IN WINTER
THE MARSHES AND HOG ISLAND, HIGH TIDE
THATCH GRASS BUILDING OUT ON THE EDDY SIDE OF A CREEK
THE BANK FALLING AWAY ON THE CHANNEL SIDE OF A CREEK
ISLANDS OF THATCH AT LOW TIDE
MARSH AND CREEK AT HIGH TIDE
A MARSH ISLAND
THE OLD CANAL
YOUNG BITTERNS
IN THE UPPER REACHES OF THE CASTLE NECK RIVER
GROUP OF BIRDS OF THE MARSH
THE GUNNER’S BLIND AND DECOYS AT THE SLOUGH
HORSESHOE CRABS
ROCK CRABS AND THEIR TRACKS
MOUNDS MADE BY BEACH FLEAS
CIRCLES MADE BY THE GRASS BLOWN BY THE WIND
WHELK, SEA SNAIL, ETC.
NORTHERN QUAHOG, SEA MUSSEL, ETC.              

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