Monday, August 6, 2007

Low Tide

Size comparison
Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
Continuing where I left off... Last Saturday's coffee of the day was Ethiopian Harar mixed with New Guinea because I didn't want to wait for them to brew another pot. Also, this picture is from last week when there were plenty of piping plovers in the land of gulls photo ops.

Today (that would be Saturday August 4) the coffee of the day is Ethiopian Yrgacheffe, which is rapidly becoming my favorite. There are not nearly as many gulls hanging out at the south end of the beach and no piping plovers present themselves to me. It's low tide. Very low tide. Astronomically low tide for the month (obviously the high tide will be the astronomically high tide for the month, but that's not germane to our story), I've got a lot of ground, err sand, to cover.

As soon as I set up my chair and get the binoculars out of the backpack I spot someone in the closed area of beach. He's already too far away for me to get his attention and he's headed away from me. i radio the gatehouse and pretty soon Unit 61 is on his way and I'm giving him updates. I realize I set up way too far from the water when I lose sight of the guy behind a berm of sand.

After 61 walks the guy, a birder of course, out of the closed area, we're chatting about the number of chicks (8) and the craziness of visitors when a group of 4 kids appear without adult supervision. Deja vu. 61 handles the kids while I go talk to a jogger who is barreling down the beach in one of those jogger trances. All I have to say to him is "Hi" and he turns around before he gets to the boundary.

I move my chair closer to the water with some help from 61 then he returns to his truck. I keep busy answering questions on everything from when is high tide to how to keep greenheads away and oh by the way how are the plovers doing and reminding people of the beach closure and begin to feel as run on as this sentence (way of indicating I meant to write a run on sentence for effect).

I do have a brief interlude of time for some serious gull behavior observation. Two great black backs are chowing down on a little skate (that's the name not the size) when a third great black back tries to horn in. They thrust their necks forward and call loudly in unison making kind of threatening head gestures until the third gull backs off. It's really impressive. While they're arguing over the skate I notice another dead fish washed up on the beach -- not sure what it is, not flat like a flounder or a skate and not big enough or striped enough to be a striper. As I'm wondering why the other great black back hasn't noticed this prize, a ringbilled gull discovers it and starts tearing strips of flesh off it, eating fast. It's making progress when the great black back walks over -- doesn't even fly over and swoop down -- grabs the fish away from the ringbill, flips it so it's lengthwise and swallows it whole. There's no way a ringbill could have done that. The fish was too big. It really hit me that size matters and the big predator gets the big prey.

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