Friday, June 12, 2015

the least tern show

So before I go do this week's shift, here's a post about last week.

Saturday June 6
AM Shift - North
Coffee of the Day: Sumatra
Bird of the Day: least tern
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: umm, Hooksett disk, just because I can't believe I'm still finding them.
Invisi-bird Status: Refuge: 33 pairs, 19 nests. Sandy Point: 9 pairs, 7 nests. Town Beach: 3 pairs, 2 nests. Number actually seen by me: 2.

My Reason for Being Here
I didn't have to wait long before the invisi-birds appeared. I heard them peeping as I was setting up my beach chair. There were two of them, but they were not acting much like a pair. All I saw them do was eat - separately.  The water line and the wrack line seemed equally appealing to both of them. There were a lot of flies in the wrack, which was also attracting lots of purple martins but for some reason no tree swallows.

Looking South
There were very few people on the beach all morning and most of them were fishing. Two guys seemed to be having all the luck, but none of the stripers they caught were keepers. I overheard one guy singing the praises of his bait - his awesome bait, which he claimed to love. Never heard anybody talk about bait like that before, even Kay.

Wrack Item of the Decade - A Hooksett Disk
I didn't need to spend much time talking with visitors as the fishermen were all well-behaved and well-informed, so I had plenty of time to watch the least tern show. And boy were they ever putting on a show! Three least terns drove off two great black backs and made it seem easy. I guess when you poop on your predators, they don't stick around. The real action was among the least terns themselves though. Lots of noisy aerial ballet and bringing of fish resulted in several pairs getting it on on the beach just below the foot of the dunes. The show went on for a couple of hours and I was still watching, fascinated, when Big Steve came to relieve me. It was quite a morning.

The Dunes Are Blooming
June was busting out all over in the dunes and along the edges of Parking Lot 1. I would have spent another hour taking photos of plants if I hadn't been in a hurry to get home for a work meeting.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

quick post to catch up

Been a little too busy to blog lately. Here are a couple of snippets to keep you interested.

The Daily News did a great article on PRNWR volunteer Lynette Leka: "Getting Acquainted: Parker River refuge volunteer seems to be everywhere." Check it out. And, yes, she actually is everywhere. I personally have seen her in two places at once. :-)

Latest invisi-bird (piping plover) numbers: Refuge 33 pairs, 17 nests;  Sandy Point 6 pairs, 4 nests; Town Beach 2 pairs, 2 nests.

Also, NH Fish and Game reports 6 pairs of piping plovers nesting along Hampton and Seabrook beaches, just to our north. I believe they are marking the areas with symbolic fencing (aka rope) so be on the lookout.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

the beach is a weird place

Saturday April 18
AM Shift - North
Coffee of the Day: Boatyard Brew
Bird of the Day: Double crested cormorant
Weird wrack item of the week: umm, you decide.
Invisi-bird status: Refuge: 20 pairs, Sandy Point 2 pairs, Town Beach 2 pairs. Number actually seen by me: zero.
Looking South
Some days are weirder than others.  Some days are just weird. Weird. Weird. Haven't said weird enough yet. For only the fourth or maybe fifth time in like 20 years of plover wardening, there were no radios in the equipment box. There should be two radios happily charging in their little cradles, but there were zero. Called headquarters. Brainstorming together, we were unable to figure out where the radios have gone. We agreed to use cellphones in the event of anything requiring communication until someone could bring me a radio.
Low-flying Aeroplane
The weather was spectacular -- clear and bright and not unbearably windy. Among other things, this meant lots of activity from the Plum Island Aerodrome.  I got a little nervous when an extremely low-flying plane resembling an ultralight flew over the beach. When I first spotted it, it was slightly offshore, then it came in over the water line, then as it proceeded south it came further inland and at lower altitude. The lower it got, the more concerned I got that it would crash on the closed area of beach. Fortunately, it regained a little altitude before it flew out toward Cape Ann.

The major bird excitement of the day was a long line of about a thousand double-crested cormorants bookin' it north. Actually I lost count at two groups of 500, so there may have been more than 1000. It was impressive to watch.
Highly Photogenic Log
There was a huge log washed up on the beach, looking very photogenic, and loads of people were taking photos of it. As I was answering questions about the piping plovers, about the Sandy Point parking lot (only the first lot is open so it gets full fast), and the Blue Inn (it's closed for renovations I don't have any insider knowledge beyond that, yet a visitor believed I would be able to tell her the inside scoop on "what happened to the Blue Inn"),  I spotted the strangest thing I have yet seen on the beach.

A man carrying a couch walked onto the beach and placed the couch next to the photogenic log. I thought this odd. Who brings a couch to the beach?  The tide was clearly coming in, swirling up around the log periodically. Two women appeared. One a young model carrying a couple of dresses, one very poufy. The other apparently the photographer's assistant, carrying the thick couch cushion.

Photo Shoot
The photographer placed the couch next to the picturesque, photogenic log and turned to answer a question about which dress the model was supposed to put on. A wave washed over the couch -- which was still awaiting the cushion.  After some negotiation amongst themselves the photographer moved the couch further up from the water line. They did a bunch of photos with various of the dresses. The model was wearing fairly skimpy bikini underwear beneath the voluminous dresses, which struck me as funny,

Just when I thought they had become more sensible, he had her pose next to the log - without the couch - with waves swirling around her. I got a little worried that this was going to turn into a disaster like the bizarre photo shoot last August where one model lost his glasses and one got seriously scratched up. Fortunately, they finished up safely and toted the couch off the beach. My relief arrived and told me he'd just seen the strangest thing... to which I immediately said "oh, the couch."