Saturday, May 9, 2009

Well, it rhymes with scone

The Gull in Question

Coffee of the Day: Sumatra. Quite good.

Invisi-bird Status: 4 pairs on the refuge beach and one nest with 4 eggs at Sandy Point. And... drum roll please... I actually saw one today. Flying around making lots of noise and then working the wrack like crazy for bugs.

Bird of the Day: Long-tailed duck, again. Hordes of them. Legions of them. Regiments of them.

The Story

This weekend's deceptive weather pattern is the opposite of last weekend's. Today it was bright and sunny at my house and raining on the refuge. The rain wasn't too bad so I stuck it out until the sun came out. It turned into a perfect beach day just as my shift ended. Go figure.

Having convinced myself that the rain was going to stop and I could make myself useful, I got out onto the beach and checked the signs, fences, and buoys. All OK. I scanned for dogs. Then I got out the binoculars to check out the bird life while I drank my coffee. I also had a lemon ginger scone in my pack -- Plum Island Coffee Roasters is famous for their lemon ginger scones -- to eat once I got settled in.

First thing I noticed was a large flock of long-tailed ducks, around 500 of 'em. I was going to txt that to Twitter when I noticed my cellphone had vanished. Yikes! I retraced my steps on the beach with no luck. In panic, I radioed Unit 3 to see if it was in the parking lot or my car. Nope. I went to check the boardwalk. Nope. I rendezvoused with Unit 3 in the parking lot and had her call my phone in case it was hidden under the seat of the car or something. Finally, we called Plum Island Coffee Roasters and had them go out and look in their parking lot. Nothing. Sigh. Back to greeting visitors, checking for dogs, and looking for piping plovers.

Meanwhile, as I've been searching, a herring gull has been eyeing my pack and edging closer to it. Darn. He's going to get my scone! I don't know if I can handle no phone and no scone. Fortunately, another gull distracts him for a bit. I get to finish my coffee and eat the scone.

Later I was walking toward the north boundary when I noticed something dark in the sand, surrounded by gull tracks. My phone! I retrieve the phone and notify Unit 3 that I've found it. Since I did not see the suspect actually move it from wherever I dropped it to the where I found it, I can only guess that the attempted scone scavenger was also the one who stole my phone. BTW, that same gull hung out in my general vicinity for hours.

Once all the excitement about phone and scone had subsided I took a good look at those long-tailed ducks. A horned grebe surfaced in the middle of the long-tailed duck flock, looked around in all directions and dove again. Other interlopers included 2 red-breasted mergansers, a single white-winged scoter, and a common loon. Great flowing rivers of long-tailed ducks streamed by me and joined the flock slightly to the south. I lost count around 1500 or so. There may have been more.

As I watched the long-tailed ducks I heard my favorite sound: peep-lo! It took me awhile to locate the piping plover who was making the sound but I finally got awesome looks. It did some aerobatic loops, calling all the while, and landed closer to me where it worked the wrack line expertly catching bugs. It looked like it was getting quite a feast. I watched it for a long time, feeling grateful that I'd decided to stick it out with the weather.

The sun came out. I greeted 8 visitors and intimidated one pack of dog owners.

Lunch was a veggie burger at Plum Crazy -- the new place where PJ's used to be. I love their veggie burger. Had it the first time 2 weeks ago and have been talking it up.

Once again the ratio of words to pictures has become un-bloglike so I'd better stop here.

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