Saturday, June 21, 2008

seagoing sparrow, talkative visitor, new lock, nice weather, oh my

The status report from yesterday says there are 11 piping plover chicks: 7 on the refuge and 4 at Sandy Point. There are two new nests also. Yay!

Coffee of the day at Plum Island Coffee Roasters is Bolivian.

Oddest sight of the day: a song sparrow flew in over the dunes, landed on a rock in front of me, hung out for about 10 minutes and then took off straight out to sea. Seagoing song sparrow? At least it wasn't as much of a tongue twister to say as seagoing seaside sparrow.

A small flock of Bonaparte's gulls, minus their Little gull buddy, flew back and forth along the shore fishing together. A least tern fished alone right in front of me. It caught and ate several fish. I did not see it carry any back to the LETE colony. A birder came around looking for the gull-billed tern. He hadn't seen it nor talked to anyone who had today. On the way back to the gatehouse I birded the birders at Stage Island Pool but since none of them were looking through their scopes and some were sitting listlessly on rocks, I intuited that the gull-billed tern was not present.

I talked to 13 visitors today. They were all manageable. Two teenage boys walked briskly into the closed area at the water line. I caught up with them quickly, without even crossing the line myself, and got them out of there. One woman went into the closed area to pick up a sand dollar. She knew better but HAD to have the sand dollar. She talked my ear off for over half an hour about making gift baskets with sand dollars for holidays and birthdays and stuff. She also mentioned least terns pecking at her head -- turns out this was years ago at Sandy Point -- and wanted to know why the piping plovers at Crane Beach nest way up in the dunes and ours nest on the beach. I basically said "I don't know." I keep hearing from people how Crane Beach has much better nesting success than the refuge without closing the beach. She brought that up too. I pointed out that the mission of a National Wildlife Refuge is wildlife protection first and foremost. That is not the primary mission of the Trustees of Reservations. They can make tradeoffs we can't. I did not go into how they have way more beach and the beach mainly does not face straight east. I do wonder sometimes how the chicks make it through the wall to wall beachgoers to feed though. They may hatch in the dunes but they need to eat amidst the wrack and at the water line. That's a long walk for an invisible puff ball. Gotta find out more about this before I write my book (what book? the one I've been threatening to write for 10 years? think I'll ever get to it?)

Back at the gatehouse I noticed a brand new lock on the new lock box. It appeared since this morning. Turned out Unit 3 bought it today. It's very smooth, not nearly the struggle the old one was getting to be. Such luxury. Nice smooth lock on a nice roomy -- and dry! -- box.

Got stuck on the drawbridge again today only this time it was on the way home.

That's all for now from the land of gulls and radios.

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