Monday, May 12, 2008

no fun whatsoever

I know readers are longing for riveting stories about not seeing piping plovers, interacting with visitors, identifying scoters between the waves, and of course radios and gull behavior. However, I have no such stories to tell about this past weekend because I was miserably sick either due to a reaction to amoxicillin that I took for an infected tooth or due to some other mysterious stomach bug that just happened to appear two days after I went to the dentist to get the evil thing taking over my mouth looked at. In any case, I was miserable Friday and Saturday, but managed to rally enough to drag myself to the Beach Boys' house for the annual Mother's Day family gathering and stairs rescuing event (darn can't find the entry where the Ex-Pat rescued the Beach Boy's staircase - will keep looking and add archival link later). The east/northeast wind made it cold but we were able to dine al fresco at least for the appetizers on the leeward side of the house -- the house makes a great windbreak.

Bird action at Salisbury Beach was limited to a few herring gulls, one great black back, and a mourning dove that tried to take shelter on the porch. Oddly, when I got home there were mourning doves hunkered down on the Russian Parking Space Blockers' back steps and on my fence. As I write this today, the wind is howling and a pair of mourning doves is swaying wildly perched on a wire and hanging on for dear life. I doubt they followed me from Salisbury. :-)

Of course at the family gathering some of the non-beach family members had to tease me about piping plover recipes and such. Similarly, when I was talking with the Hermit Potter (who is nothing like either a Harry Potter or a Hermit Crab) during our afternoon of art on Thursday about my frustration that I haven't written my piping plover book yet, he joked that I didn't have enough recipes for a cookbook. That's the sound bite reporters want to hear too, no matter what else I may have to say. In case you missed the Globe story quoting me last season you can check it out in the USFWS Refuge Reporter article on volunteer experiences. At least once a season, I get a visitor who talks about eating them. I do have to say that as the years have gone by, more and more people do actually care and want to know how the plovers are doing.

That brings me to one other thought train sparked by the wind at the Beach Boys' house. Has anybody looked at how piping plover nesting productivity correlates with how exposed the beach is? The refuge beach on Plum Island faces almost directly east. It's totally exposed to the full fury of the Atlantic Ocean. It's a barrier beach. The sand is moving all the time, and there's not a lot of sheltered beach except at Sandy Point. Crane Beach just across the Ipswich River has a lot more nice Sandy Beach that does not face directly east. Could that be why it attracts more piping plover pairs and hatches more chick? They're protected from the fury of mother Atlantic?

I could probably do better with this theorizing -- and maybe even research it some -- but I'm still somewhat messed up by the weird ailment or cure worse than the disease.

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