Saturday, May 31, 2008

big lightning

Cool Shirt
Originally uploaded by Captain_Peleg
Woke up to bright sunny gorgeous day and headed to the beach for my AM plover warden shift. Stopped off at The Fish Tale Diner for breakfast surrounded by old guys talking about gliding through the salt marsh in sneak boats in the old days, old lobster boats, nostalgia. Another guy joined them and the conversation changed to piloting gliders. He gave a good explanation of aerodynamics in his old guy swamp yankee accent. I could picture him flying silently over the island in his glider above the other guys in their sneak boats.

Coffee of the day at PI Coffee Roasters is Papua New Guinea -- a medium roast. Tasty.

I started the shift watching a semipalmated plover methodically feeding in the wet sand, moving from north to south. The wind was blowing fiercely from the southwest. Next thing I knew my hat was in the water, not on my head. Since this is the replacement hat for the previous one whose stupid plastic adjustable thingy wore out, I figured I'd better make haste after it. Fortunately, I caught it before it washed out to sea. I let it dry off a bit before I put it back on.

There were very few visitors. Everybody was scared off by the weather forecast. Except for trying to keep my hat on, I was having a pretty easy time of it. That was right up until I started to hear thunder to the west. Clear skies over the ocean. Slate gray skies over the marsh. Quite the contrast. A photographer showed up to capture the scene. I hung out for awhile wondering whether I should leave. Big purple lightning split the sky fairly close by. We're talking the jagged kind you always see in kids' drawings and scary movies. That was enough for me.

I made it to my car seconds before the thunderstorm made it to the Sandy Point parking lot. The rain pelted down, thunder crashed, more big lightning flashed. Huge puddles appeared by the side of the road. By the time I got back to the gatehouse it was over although I could still hear thunder. Gatehouse said Bob (north today -- I was south) left too.

Naturally, I did not see any of the invisi-birds today. The one semipalmated plover I watched on the beach was the only one of those I saw. Lots of least sandpipers and other peeps swirled around all over the place. On my way back to the gatehouse, I had the strangest sighting of the day. Among the gray catbirds, of which there seem to be an infinite number today, was a really tiny bird walking down the middle of the road. We're talking the paved road here, not the dirt road. Thinking it was some kind of sparrow I should check out, I pulled over for a look. It walked boldly down the road away from the catbirds. A least sandpiper. Since when do least sandpipers walk on roads? By themselves? I couldn't help laughing. I hope it found the rest of its peeps.

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