Saturday, April 11, 2009


The temperature is in the 30's and the wind from the north/northeast is even fiercer than last week's west wind. Ai yi yi! (or however you spell that). My main observations today have been about the aerodynamics of my hat -- trying to calculate the exact angle at which the brim must be pulled down over my eyes to avoid liftoff. It proved impossible to use my binoculars if I kept the hat pulled down far enough. I'm wearing my cozy bright red ear muffs so my ears are not getting frost-bitten. My thin gloves and my hot cuppa coffee are not enough to keep my fingers from getting really cold. Unit 3 pronounces me crazy. I have to agree.

Oh, almost forgot to identify the coffee of the day: Sumatra. Really really good. I ran into Big Steve at Plum Island Coffee Roasters on the way to the refuge. He was off to campaign at the Newbury transfer station. I told him about last week's encounter with the guys who asked if the piping plover were extinct. He got a big kick out of that.

I did speak with a couple of visitors. Three to be exact. Well, 4 if you count Tom Wetmore but since he is King of Plum Island I don't think he counts as a visitor. I lasted under 2 hours in the wind. I saw the usual assortment of indistinguishable scoters, some oldsquaws, a small flock of brant, and a northern gannet. The gannet was really close to shore, as in actually over the beach at one point. A couple of great black backs were chowing down on a dead fish that was already so picked over it was barely identifiable as a fish, let alone determine the species wihout DNA evidence. A ring-billed gull was flying into the wind and catching rides repeatedly. I have to believe it was doing it for fun.

The piping plovers are back but I have not seen any yet. According to Gatehouse, there are 3 or 4 on the refuge. This seems late for arrival but is not surprising given the wind direction.

On the way back into town I spotted a bald eagle over Water Street. I pulled over at the sea wall (shouldn't it be called a river wall?) to get out binocs for a better look. Two herring gulls went after it and chased it out over the river toward Salisbury. It was just like the usual scene of crows chasing a red-tailed hawk but with the parts played by different actors.

I thawed out with French toast and coffee at The Fish Tale.

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