at the hawk

With temperatures moving on up into the mid-30C range (or mid 90 F range), along with high humidity, I’ll be spending much of this afternoon indoors. This most recent heat wave has got me imagining being back on a beach in Nova Scotia, so I’ll use today’s post to finish up my writings about our July trip to the coast. I guess you could say that I’ve been saving the best until last.

On our last full day in Nova Scotia, we decided to trip on down to Cape Sable Island, to visit a section of shoreline known as The Hawk. Cape Sable Island is not “the” Sable Island, often referred to as Graveyard of the Atlantic. No, this island is adjacent to Nova Scotia’s southernmost point, and accessed by road from the mainland. The fishing village of Clark’s Harbour is located there, and almost every Nova Scotia travel guide will tell you that it’s home to the Cape Islander fishing boat — a style of wooden fishing vessel that you’ll find in harbours all over Nova Scotia.

The Hawk is located on the southeast shore of the island near the village of Lower Clark’s Harbour. It’s a long, sweeping, fine sand beach, with beach cobbles up near a retaining wall, and a few large rocks out on the beach and one conspicuous offshore rock (see above image – click for larger view). Back from the beach are some low dunes and tidal wetlands beyond. Such tidal marshes may be found along many other areas of the island shores as the elevation is quite low.

Among the beach cobbles, I noticed quite a number of very dark wolf spiders (see left – click on image for larger view). Many were carrying egg sacs. If approached, they would quickly disappear between the beach cobbles and were nowhere to be seen when a cobble or two were removed. However, the males seemed not so shy and I managed to shoot a few photos of a couple of them. They were conspicuous for their very large pedipalps. I made some enquiries about these spiders on the NatureNS listserve, and my request was forwarded to Calum Ewing at the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. He informed me that these spiders are Pardosa groenlandica, a species primarily found in the Arctic, or in harsh habitat in places such as the Rockies, and among beach cobbles along the shores of Nova Scotia and a few other points in eastern North America.

While Don and Sabrina rested and watched the tide roll in, I spent about twenty minutes photographing the many large, dark, metallic-looking Tiger Beetles that I’d noticed flying all around the beach. After examining the photos, I concluded that they must be Cicindela hirticollis rhodensis, a species known to inhabit sandy beaches, and that is identified, in part, by its “hairy neck”. The ID was later confirmed by others familiar with this species.

I spent awhile longer photographing drift, bits and pieces of crabshells, and several gloves found washed up onto the beach. Judging by their number, one might be able to make a small business out of collecting the assortment of gloves and matching them up to resell after! Also photographed were Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus), and the beautiful Sea Lungwort(Mertensia maritima) which is also known as Oysterleaf.

Both the tide and the fog began to roll in as we departed The Hawk. It seems a very special place — one of those places that seems to belong more to the ocean than the land.

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6 Responses to “at the hawk”

  1. pablo Says:

    I really like the look of that sand!

  2. burning silo Says:

    Pablo – That sand is wonderful stuff, but it’s definitely of the “camera wrecker” variety. The winds were quite strong that day and blew the drier particles in wiggling trails across the beach. Which reminds me of a kind of funny photo from that day. I shot this scene of the waves coming in, and managed to capture my windswept hair in the picture! (click on image for larger view). Btw, the water was just lovely coloured that day — and I suspect it might be like that a lot of the time.

  3. robin andrea Says:

    Beautiful photos. I love this one you have here in comments, with your windswept hair. It’s really wild and definitely captures the elements. I’ve photographing spiders today, and thinking of you! Hope things cool off so you can get back outdoors.

  4. burning silo Says:

    Robin – I love that photo too. I actually didn’t notice my wild hair in the photo until I downloaded my pics into the computer and it was one of those happy surprises. Nice to hear that photographing spiders made you think of me! The weather is just brutal here this evening… it began to cool down a bit at sunset, but now the temperature is *rising* again — it’s now at 90F. Humidex is 105 at the moment. Very uncomfortable! I sure hope it begins to cool back down so that we can get a bit of sleep tonight.

  5. Wayne Says:

    HA! The windswept hair is great.

    I know Robin and Roger will have no such surprise, but for me it’s just amazing to see rocky beaches and huge rocks rising out of the ocean.

    I love the tiger beetle – so furry! I’ve been watching for them since the 6-spotted greens but haven’t seen any others.

    I can see why you want to revisit NS. You’re as hot as we are.

  6. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – I like the hair too! I may get a print made of that one as it would be a great reminder of a really fun day.
    Regarding the shorelines of Nova Scotia, there are a few places that remind me of locations on the Oregon and N. California coast. Actually, when you think of it, the geology of Nova Scotia has a lot in common with Oregon. Those are the only two places I can think of (and have spent time) where there are such strong reminders of volcanic activity (basalt columns and formations). Also, I’ve seen very unusual beach cobbles in parts of Nova Scotia that are so similar to those around the Smith River and a couple of beaches in N. California, that it’s difficult to imagine they aren’t from the same source (just one of those things that i muse over from time to time).
    Isn’t that a furry Tiger Beetle? I’ve photographed some locally that are much the same. I must get back to the spot where they hang out — a tiny sandpit in a forest. If you know of any sandy places in your area, definitely pay them a visit as many species of Tiger beetle hang out in sand — and along shorelines where there is any sand.
    And yup.. it is HOT here. The humidex was something like 119 yesterday. Absolutely sweltering. People from hot places come here to this area and don’t expect this kind of weather, but we do get it from time to time and the humidity is usually brutal. So much for being up in the Frozen North! (-: