Saturday, June 16, 2007

piping plover with float

piping plover with float
Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
I took this picture last Saturday (6/9) during my rain-shortened plover warden shift. It was raining at the time, which adds a certain atmosphere to the shot of the giant float and the tiny lone plover. This lone adult plover hung around the same general area for about 2 hours. Other shorebirds came and went in pairs or small groups: sanderlings, dunlin, black-bellied plovers. The black-bellieds were very vociferous for some reason but the piping plover never uttered a peep. There's some puns in there some place. And no there were no killdeer.

The most interesting sound I heard was a cricket.. At least I thought it was a cricket. It was awfully loud and nearby -- not exactly snowy tree cricket habitat. Then I spotted a catbird perched on the 6.0 mile marker. The sound was coming from the catbird! I've heard catbirds do willet, least tern, common tern, yellow warbler, and purple finch and I've heard mockingbirds do car alarms but I've never heard any mimic do an insect. Curioser and curioser. I must be in Wonderland with Alice.

A visitor came along with a huge wheeled cart full of diving gear and wanted to know if he could walk on the beach to get to Emerson Rocks. Hmm, I knew what to say to fishermen but I had to double check with Gatehouse on divers. Gatehouse didn't know but 61 overheard and answered that the guy would have to go into the water outside the closed area and swim over (or walk in the water) to Emerson rocks. The diver told me the next piping plover he sees is going on his plate. I told him there's not enough meat on them for a meal. I didn't mention that according to those who study such matters they don't taste like chicken.

The next visitor more than made up for the dive guy. A visiting birder from Tennessee thanked me for what I do and told me it's important. This is only the third time in recorded history of my 10 years on the beach that anyone who was not a USFWS employee thanked me. I was able to answer his questions about Sandy Point and he told me he's just gotten a great photo of a great black back catching a little skate.

All the while the fog turned to mist turned to rain so slowly I didn't realize I was soaked to the skin until I started to shiver. I called it a day.

The status on our little stretch of beach as far as I know it from the report that was in the plover warden backpack on 6/9 was 3 nests on the refuge out of 7 or 8 pairs. The others have been running around making scrapes but there were no other known nests. There' s still one nest at Sandy Point -- three were lost to flooding earlier. There are also two nests on the Newbury town beach. I have no update for today (6/16) because I'm not at the beach -- prior commitment to girlfriend and family.

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