Saturday, April 18, 2009


Coffee of the day: Bolivian. Enjoyed it. All of it.

Bird of the day: tie between horned grebe and snowy owl.

Human behavior of the day: yoga in the intertidal zone -- practitioners wearing drysuits.

Invisi-bird status: still invisible but I've heard tell there are some there.

So, the grebe show. There were at least 4 horned grebes bouncing around on the waves just off the north beach. A group of birders with scopes were watching them from the boardwalk, but left before the really fabulous grebe action started. The grebes came progressively closer to shore during my shift until they were identifiable at naked eye distance. Two of them faced each other and kind of reared back and started to stretch their necks up and down, pumping like crazy. They did this for a few minutes at a time, then settled back down onto the water parallel to each other and bobbed their heads up and down without the long neck stretch. They followed this with swimming away from each other until they were fairly well separated, then they started the whole thing over again. At one point there was a lot of splashing and possibly swimming backwards - I was busy talking with visitors (of whom there were 18 today -- which may be a record for an overcast April morning).

There was a huge movement of double-crested cormorants this morning. Lines of from 10 to 40 birds each streamed past for 3 hours. Also, much kestrel and merlin action. One kestrel perched on a post overlooking the beach and attracted a crowd of hawkwatchers who huddled around the boundary of the closed area trying to get as close to the bird as possible without trespassing.

I stared down three dog owners, traded "piping plover tastes like chicken" jokes with the intertidal yoga people, explained the piping plover life cycle to eager birders and a shy kid, and pointed out opsreys and red-breasted mergansers to new birders. I refrained from asking what the particular benefits are of lying down in wet sand to do yoga.

I heard tell from the birders that a snowy owl was hanging out in the marsh a bit south of lot 2, so after the shift I went to check it out. Sure enough, it was easily visible from the road. Not hard to find either -- birders parked every which way created a traffic jam. I kinda wished I still had the radio on me so I could get Unit 61 to break it up.

Lots of swallows around today too.

Twittering from the beach using my cellphone doesn't work too well. There are too many dead spots on the beach.

Now to tackle Saturday's chores.

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