So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll Mid-Island Beach

The night was soft and thick and black and warm as velvet, silky on my skin, smelling of iodine and salt and crepe myrtle and that ineffable, skin-prickling saline emanation that says ‘ocean’ to me whenever I smell it, hundreds of miles inland. It always moves me close to tears, so visceral, so old and tidal is its pull. I have often thought that it is the first smell we know, the amniotic smell of our first, secret sea.” ― Anne Rivers Siddons, Downtown

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I wrote my introductory thoughts for this series in the South End post.

Here’s a reminder of my imaginary sectioning of Jekyll Island, for reference:

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In this post, I’ll focus on the mid-island beach of Jekyll (the middle map), from below the Villas by the Sea on the north side to the South Dunes Picnic Area on the southern end. (Also check out my posting about the beach at the north end.) All photos were taken by me in December 2015.

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MID-ISLAND BEACH

This section of beach is the most peopled, being near the hotels, the shops, the Great Dunes Park. Often, that’s meant it’s got fewer birds than the rest of the beach, other than small clutches of scurrying sandpipers and sanderlings, but not so on this trip. Instead of roosting at the south end where I usually see them, mixed flocks of shorebirds — mainly skimmers, various gulls (herring, laughing, ring-billed), royal and least terns, a few pelicans, some willets, a couple of red knots and ruddy turnstones — occupied the beach along with people and dogs. In fact, adults and their dogs (many off-leash) and children often walked or ran right into the birds as they roosted, causing them to fly off a few hundred yards, and then fly back to try to settle again. I watched this happen over and over, and wondered what these people were thinking, to interrupt birds at rest so cavalierly, so thoughtlessly. I also wondered why the birds insisted on this bit of real estate rather than the less crowded south or north ends.

In any case, their presence provided quite a smashing show:

flockskimmersinflightwilletsonmidbeachJekyll29Dec2015

flockskimmersternsbirdsonmidbeach949amJekyll29Dec2015

twowomenwalkingrightintoflockofskimmersmidbeachJekyll29Dec2015

peoplewithdogswalkingrightintorestingbirdsmidbeachJekyll29Dec2015 shorebirdsinflightpeoplemidbeachJekyll29Dec2015

two laughing gulls and least tern
two laughing gulls and least tern

flockskimmersternsbirdsonmidbeach948amJekyll29Dec2015

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The willets were common all over the beach during this visit, the first time I’ve seen so many (or any at all). And lots of sandpipers, including sanderlings, plus two birds I haven’t seen much, the red knot and the ruddy turnstone:

two least sandpipers
two least sandpipers
least sandpiper
least sandpiper
willet
willet
three red knots
three red knots
willets and ruddy turnstone
willets and ruddy turnstone
six sanderlings
six sanderlings

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Other plants, animals, and human-made creations on the mid-beach this time included sea whip, other corals and sponges, shells, horseshoe crabs, plume worm tubes, whelk egg cases, sea pork, a sand fortress, and various stick-written messages.

sea whip
sea whip
coral
coral
channel whelk shell
channel whelk shell

stripedscallopshellJekyll23Dec2015

big and little horseshoe crab shells
big and little horseshoe crab shells
plume worm tube
plume worm tube
plume worm tube
plume worm tube
whelk egg case
whelk egg case
purple sea pork
purple sea pork

fortresssandcastlesmidbeachJekyll29Dec2015 XmastreeMerryChristmas2015writinginsandJekyll25Dec2015

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Visible from the beach at various points are the access ramps and boardwalks over the dunes from the picnic area, bike path and streets, and hotels, as well as the hotels and island infrastructure itself, and at low tide, a sand bar:

Access25signourbeachJekyll30Dec2015

boardwalk from South Dunes Picnic Area to beach
boardwalk from South Dunes Picnic Area to beach

WelcometoHamptonInnsignonboardwalkJekyll29Dec2015

Westin hotel from beach
Westin hotel from beach
sand dunes near Great Dunes Park
sand dunes near Great Dunes Park
view to mid-island
view to mid-island
people on the sand bar at low tide
people on the sand bar at low tide

The sand dunes are necessary for the integrity of the beach, and for the nesting sea turtles, and they’re beautiful, with beach croton, orach, railroad vine and morning glory, sea oats, panic grass, cordgrass, beach elder holding everything together. You can see some dune erosion along the mid-beach, but generally they seem to be flourishing.

high dune at location 11
high dune at location 11
dunes and beach near high tide
dunes and beach near high tide

dunesoceanmidsouthbeachJekyll30Dec2015 grassespalmsdunesmidbeachJekyll29Dec2015 dunespalmettosoceanmidbeachJekyll26Dec2015 pinkskyoverdunemidbeachJekyll25Dec2015

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Because this beach is near our lodgings, I walk some of it every day we’re here, usually in mid-morning and early evening, though that depends on the season and tide. I rarely take photos on evening walks.

Mid-morning beach:

lookingnorth1010ammidbeachJekyll31Dec2015 beachnorth10ammidbeachJekyll23Dec2015

midbeachJekyll21Dec2015 beachwavescloudsskymidbeachJekyll29Dec2015 sandformationlikedentalmoldingmidbeachJekyll30Dec2015

midbeachshorelinesandskymidmorningJekyll29Dec2015

oceanshorelinesandbeach1025ammidbeachJekyll30Dec2015 midbeach10amJekyll23Dec2015

It’s all so different every day.

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planktonvisitsoceanmidbeachJekyll23Dec2015

Beware of plankton.

2 Comments on “So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll Mid-Island Beach

  1. Pingback: So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll South End | A Moveable Garden

  2. Pingback: So Tidal Is Its Pull – Jekyll North End | A Moveable Garden

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