By Mike Busch

I haven’t seen the Old Inlet Wilderness Breach between Smith Point and Bellport Beach at ground level for several months so I was glad when my wife suggested taking the 3 mile round trip hike this evening.

If you aren’t familiar with Old Inlet, Fire Island and Beyond has covered its history and evolution, click here to see some of our older content.

We didn’t leave until just before 7:00 p.m. but with the sun setting closer to 8:30 on the longest day of the year we had plenty of time to check out the breach and get back before dark.

Like many south shore beaches, this is prime nesting time for shorebirds.  There is restricted access to most of the beach to protect endangered Piping Plovers and Least Tern.  While I saw a few Plovers, the Least Tern were extremely aggressive, making sure we understood we were not welcome anywhere on their beach.

The walk also had a few nesting pairs of American Oystercatchers as well.

It is very tough to tell from the ground how the inlet is evolving but there is an exposed shoal building in the mouth of the inlet near the breaker zone.  Besides that flow seemed very strong on the outgoing tide.

Piping Plover

Least Tern Preparing to Dive Bomb

Least Tern with Chick

American Oystercatcher Family

Oystercatcher Chick

Images and Video of Sunset over Wilderness Breach on Page 2