Saturday, May 30, 2009

least terns in the mist

Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Harrar.

Invisi-bird Status: 6 nests on refuge. 6 nests on Sandy Point. One of the nests on Sandy Point has hatched. Number seen by me: zero, although I did hear the peep-lo call coming from somewhere in the mists.

Bird of the Day: eastern kingbird.


Today started off overcast and foggy and a little cool. I packed a sweatshirt in case it was cold on the beach. Ended up not needing it. All morning as the tide was going out the sky was clearing from the west and the blue hazy mist was burning off. The mist really did look blue, especially in low lying spots on the beach. It gave a blue shimmer to the view in both directions.

Just to the south of me, I could make out flashes of white who turned out to be least terns flying around low over the beach between the wrack line and the dunes. There were at least 4, possibly 6. They would fly to the water and fish like crazy, then fly back to the same spot on the beach and circle around while calling. I didn't see any obvious mating or nesting activity, but it's a pretty good guess that they're up to something in that spot.

Mid morning, my first eastern kingbird of the season perched on a piece of driftwood behind me and made his presence known. After awhile two more eastern kingbirds arrived and the first one chased them off. They came back. They scuffled a bit and quieted down. A bit later I heard a big commotion of least terns and eastern kingbirds. The kingbirds had ventured into the least tern territory and the terns were having none of it. Eventually the kingbirds came back to their starting point and spread themselves out -- perched two on driftwood logs a fair distance apart and one on the mile marker. Guess the terns won.

The other exciting wildlife watching today was a couple of seals chowing down on several species of fish and seaweed. I saw one choke down a fair-sized skate. Interestingly, the seal was hanging out in a spot just where a couple of the fishing people were targeting with their surf casting.
The least terns were also visiting that spot a lot. Must be where the fish are. And it wasn't until the blue mist had almost entirely burned off (except on the area of beach where I kept hearing the piping plovers -- same low spot where I saw all those dunlin and other species last week) that I realized I had been watching two seals, one larger and grayer than the other, not one exceptionally fast-moving and hungry seal.

No comments: