Sunday, July 1, 2007

amazing purple martin tricks

Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
This is not a kayak. Just clearing up any possible confusion before proceeding to any actual content of this entry. That is a Moo mini card of a piping plover on top of the report form on the clipboard that is not a kayak.

So, yes, I made it to the beach on Saturday for my shift. I saw no piping plovers but Unit 61 updated me as best he could: two active nests with chicks on the refuge beach plus three more nests that haven't hatched yet and he's seen one or two chicks running around at Sandy Point. The interesting thing about the late nests that have yet to hatch is that they are near or within the least tern colony. This is good news because the least terns are much more aggressive (and talented) at repelling avian predators. They get together as a colony and dive bomb the alien invader and poop on him. Piping plovers rely more on the broken wing display or sometimes one on one attacks on gulls. Plus the least tern colony has an electric fence that repels those pesky mammalian predators. I imagine that once upon a time when there were way more of both species, their nesting in proximity to each other was an effective strategy.

Although the beach was crowded, I didn't speak with many visitors. Only a few people had the usual question "when will the beach be open?" Nobody asked how the plovers were doing or what a piping plover or least tern is or any of the things I love to talk about. Mostly I talked with one of the guys fishing for stripers about various beach/striper/bird related things. A flock of Bonaparte's gulls started all diving together in one spot, which usually indicates bait fish boiling up out of the water in flight from the stripers, so the fisherman cast accordingly but had no luck. There wasn't a whole lot of other bird activity on the water.

There was however one remarkable bird activity: an amazing purple martin trick. The purple martin flew over the dunes and out over the water. It disappeared into a trough between waves and then made a beeline back out directly over my head carrying a fish in its beak. A purple martin caught a fish! I have never seen that in my life. Neither had striper fishing guy. I guess it's not all that different from catching insects in the air but it certainly amazed me.

After the shift I headed up to Manchester, NH to rendezvous with Nancy and her parents again as her Dad is still in the hospital although no longer in immediate danger of leaving the planet. We drove her Mom back to their place and then by the time we got back to my place we were both totally wiped out. We went back up to Manchester today to take her Mom out to lunch and then to visit her Dad. So now that I'm home I'm catching up on stuff like blogging and email and chores and whatever. I'm taking next week off so I can have some time to myself --- on the beach with the plovers of course. I signed up for shifts on both Monday and Tuesday mornings. Maybe I'll even get to see one of the invisi-birds.

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