Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stranded on Chimmons Island

I woke up this Sunday morning, looked out the blinds, saw dark grey skies and rain, I returned to my bed, tossed the covers over my head and caught up on some sleep.

After an added hour of sleep, I watched the news and weather forecast, checked out the Internet and made some breakfast.
Gleniss, my wife asked me what I was going to do this afternoon?
I replied that I didn't know, maybe I'll go out on the boat, but the forecast was for 15-20 knot winds out of the East, not a comfortable day on the water.

I stopped and purchased a Norwalk Clamming Permit, yes I could now taste my fresh homemade Linguine with red clam sauce, lots of garlic, oregano, parsley, evoo, the best!
With clamming tongs tossed over my shoulder I walked down the ramp to my boat, started the engine, untied the docklines and was off.

It was 1:30 and I had plenty of time before the 3:45 low tide for clamming, I decided to try to check a few areas out for nesting birds. The first was the Osprey pair on Channel marker 1 in Norwalk Harbor, this are the pair that have never produced offspring, as I edge closer to this site I see how large the nest has grown in the past week, and "lo and behold" she is sitting on the nest, this is a first! In the past years they built their nest and both of them just looked at it for the whole nesting season, I think they finally have it together. Good for them.

As I near the end of the harbor and protection of land I feel the easterly winds and realize a trip to Goose or Cockenoe Islands for a count will not happen today as the seas are on the nasty side. I decide to go to the west side of Chimmons, to get out of the wind. I ram the bow of the boat on the beach the best I could so that I could hop off the boat and not get wet.
With binoculars, camera and a raincoat I jump to the beach and set the anchor in the sand, half way up to the high tide line.

If I walk over to Crow Island Bar, I can get some nice fresh steamer clams, then the thought occurs to me, my pitch fork and garden claws are home, I remember I'm still planting a garden at home,
Oh well, I take a walk down to the bar, I see a late pair of Red-breasted mergansers sitting on a rock, a few dozen Brant feeding along the shoreline, a handful of gulls and a pair of Oystercatchers, there is no rain and the skies look dry so I walk around a bit more, time goes by and I remember the tide is still falling, I head back to the boat and of course it is high and dry.

I now know that I will be on the island for a few hours so I decide to take a walk around the island, I think this island is around 70 acres, I should be back around the time the boat is floating again, off I go, I will let the pictures tell the story.
You can click to enlarge these pictures if you wish.

Memoriam to Stewart B. McKinney

Old Farming Cultivator

Remains of barge that I remember for the 50's
and early 60's, this is on the NW side of the island.

High and Dry!

I have a different attitude for these geese, they
are the truly wild ones, that want no part of
Golf courses, State or local parks, or green lawns.
This bird is not banded and is not sitting on a nest, just
relaxing, I accidentally found his mate later.

Many of these small tidal pools are on the SW
section of the island, crabs and small fish become captured
in these pools as the tides recede, making these pools
an oasis for feeding birds such as egrets and gulls.

I walked the entire island hoping to find a Piping Plover or two.
Then I remembered the islands raccoon population.
No plover, but I did find a pair of nesting Killdeer.

There were a fair number of these caterpillar nest
around the island

Old 8 cylinder engine on north side of island,
could have been from a shipwreck or from farm equipment.

There were plenty of mockingbirds on the island,
other species that were plentiful were robins,
common grackle, red-winged blackbirds, starlings
and song sparrows.

A view from the northshore of Chimmons.
That is Peck's Ledge Lighthouse in the back round,
with Cockenoe Is. behind it and to the left.
The nearby island to the right is Grassy Is.

There are many remnants of shipwrecks on this island.
If this piece of wood and rusted bolts could only speak.
I'm sure it would have a colorful tale.

The shoreline is covered with just about
everything you could possibly imagine.

Even an old shoe!

This awesome rock is on the SE corner, it is about
4ft x 4ft and was perfectly split, I'm sure by ice.
Glaciers deposited this rock during the last ice age
10-20 thousand years ago.

One of the many boulders on Chimmons Is.
This is on the south side, that is Copps Is. in the back round

This can marked "T" was near Goose Is all winter,
the March storms washed it up in Chimmons.
It had a good fifty feet of anchor chain attached.
Anybody own it?

This unique tree on the south shore has most of its
northerly roots exposed, with no apparent roots in any other direction.
It was spectacular.

I even found the kitchen sink!

I didn't see the mate to the previously mentioned
Canada Goose until I unknowingly almost walked upon
her as she was well hidden above the high tide line.
She flew off, I snapped a shot and left quickly.
Before leaving I reached down to pull the anchor out of the sand,
I notice a few white spots on my left sleeve,
the size of a quarter, somewhere on this island a bird high
above me had good aim.
I thought of it as a badge of honor to this incredible island, which has a history that can only be captured in a book, not in this blog. I hope to be back out here soon.
As for the clams, I will wait for another day.


  1. Good job Larry! I've always seen a number of mockingbirds and red-winged blackbirds on Chimon and other islands. Your pictures are all familiar sites, been out there a few times this year. Chimon Is is 59 acres and according to history books was once larger but has eroded by storms (before we were born)
    David Park

  2. i just came upon your post and loved reading it! when i was a child we spent weekends on Chimon's Island. it was heaven there! what a huge colony of wading birds on the eastern & southeastern shore...herons, ibis, egrets in all colors. fascinating for a young girl to observe! this was in the 1950s.
    the shocker is your photo of the barge! it was a clubhouse once! and i was told it washed up there during the '38 hurricane. i thought it was noah's ark! massive! we used to find millions of starfish around the hull, huge ones too!
    thanks for posting about the Norwalk Islands as they are so dear to my heart, especially Chimons.