first herring brook (scituate, MA)

turns out i've been down to that area of the south shore before via motorcycle: 2 years ago, went i visited the black pond bog in norwell. this time the destination was duxbury but still traveling much of the same roads, route 203 onto route 3A. cutting through quincy center was a drag (a traffic stop at every intersection) but the explosion of asian businesses was an eye-opener. by the time i almost go to where i was going, it finally hit home like deja vu when i pulled my bike by the side of the road to admire first herring brook in scituate. the name on the sign was familiar but the sight was different: 2 years ago the place was covered in water; now it's just a vast mudflat, remnants of dead tree trunks evidence that this used to be a forest before humans altered the landscape.

people driving by must've been curious to know what i was doing, standing on the side of the road shooting away with my camera. i could see from a distance that there were all sorts of bird activities. my arrival startled a great blue heron who flew away immediately. flocks of shore birds scattered as well, but came back when they decided i wasn't a treat to them. the birds of the south shore are similar to the ones found in the north shore: besides the semipalmated plovers and the sanderlings (as seen on crane beach), i also saw greater and lesser yellowlegs and least sandpipers.

duxbury beach

it took well over an hour and a half to arrive at duxbury beach. this was further complicated by the fact that the residents of duxbury would like to keep their already private beach even more exclusive so naturally there aren't any signs directing you to the whereabouts of said beach. through some navigational miracle, i managed to find it. i stashed my motorcycle in a private lot, between two cars. to get to the actual beach required crossing a long wooden bridge (from the map the bridge appears to be half a mile long). cars can drive over it but unless you have a special beach permit, you won't be allowed to park at the beach parking.

i looked out of place in my jeans and backpack, while most other people were dressed in their swimwear carrying coolers and lawn chairs. i'm also pretty sure i was the only non-white person on this beach, to the point that it made me sort of nervous. most of the cars going over the bridge were large SUV's driven by soccer moms, noisy children in the back seat next to all the beach toys. at the midway point on this bridge were a group of people fishing. i struck up a conversation with a middle-aged woman fisherman who judging from her dark leathery skin is a seasoned veteran of these here parts. as it turns out however, she wasn't from duxbury but from some other massachusetts town i've never heard of before that required a 45 minute drive to get to. "but i love my car and i love driving," she said with her infectious optimism. although not a local resident, she was definitely a regular, and knew all the other fishermen hanging out on the bridge, including what kind of fish they've caught if any. she told me she'd been there since 10am this morning (by that time it was almost 2pm). i told her i was a birdwatcher (not really true, but better than saying i'm an unemployed person who rides around aimlessly on his motorcycle looking for cheap photo ops) and she gave me a few pointers, but more like, "there are a bunch of little birds over there, and some big birds here." she said the best time to come to duxbury beach is during a full moon, when the water shimmers from the moonlight, and that last year a flock of migrating monarch butterflies pass through the area.

when i finally got to the beach, i look a quick scan and soon left. very similar to crane beach except none of that protected wildlife zones so there was little naturing to be had. tree swallows dived between the dune grass and the beach roses, that was about it. plus, i felt terribly over-dressed, like an outsider trying to crash a private party and failing miserably. i crossed the bridge back to where i stashed the bike and returned home.

i made it to cambridge by 4:30pm, my arms (and probably my face) several shades darker after being out in the sun for 3+ hours without sun protection. worse, traveling such a long distance riding a motorcycle with an open-faced helmet, i breathed in enough pollen to probably kill an allergic lab rat. my nose was runny and my eyes were watery throughout the whole time. despite the fact i took a claritin before leaving the house, it hardly made a dent. i stopped by the garden to water my vegetables before returning home and taking a hot shower.

i went to bed last night at a decent hour (3am) but for some reason woke up around 6am and couldn't fall back asleep. i wondered if there was still enough time to catch the lunar eclipse. then i heard my upstairs neighbors waking up and stumbling through their morning routine. outside i heard the beeping of a large truck stuck on my street (naturally i had to get out of bed and make sure it didn't hit my bike). then my allergies started to kick in. all those factors contributed to me not getting back to sleep. so it goes without saying i was pretty tired, especially being out all day. for dinner i cooked up some more salmon. afterwards, i fell asleep on the couch watching the red sox-yankees game, but willed myself awake so i wouldn't miss anything exciting, but in retrospect i should've gone straight to bed, as the yankees ended up beating the red sox.