Tuesday, June 23, 2009

partly cloudy or partly sunny

Finally getting to posting about Saturday's shift...

Coffee of the Day: Costa Rica.
Bird of the Day: Tie between piping plover and roseate tern.
Invisi-bird Status: Update dated 6/18: 13 pairs, 10 nests, 5 nests hatched on refuge. Sandy Point: 6 pairs, 6 nests, 2 nests hatched. Number actually seen by me: 2.

Story

I heard a piping plover calling peep-lo as I was walking onto the beach from the boardwalk at Lot 1. Spotted the caller immediately with the naked eye. Cool way to start the day.

The beach is surprisingly uncrowded given that it's not actively raining and the sun has even managed to peek out from behind the clouds for significant stretches of time. Had a discussion with a fisherman about whether the day is partly cloudy or partly sunny. Neither of us could figure out what the difference is. He's fishing with two of his sons. The youngest one seems to have found the sweet spot for flounders. He caught three of them, all keepers, during my shift. No stripers. No blues, though I've heard that the blues are running early this year at the mouth of the Merrimack.

So few visitors means I have plenty of time to watch the invisi-birds (when visible). Two of them seem to be alternating trips to the waterline to feed. One of them is doing the foot trembling thing, stirring up small intertidal creatures and grabbing them in its bill. Later on I watch a piping plover harassing and attacking a common grackle and then an eastern kingbird. They're all making quite a bit of noise. The plover is being very aggressive. I'm guessing there are eggs or young nearby. Later I hear from Unit 3 that the northernmost nest was predated. I tell her the behavior I've seen and theorize that this pair has re-nested. Either that or they just really hate other birds :-)

The common grackle with the funky tail feathers, whom I photographed a few weeks ago, has been hanging around where the boys are fishing for flounder. It sees an opportunity when the humans are focused on their tackle and it makes off with bait they left lying in the sand. Clam. Mackerel. Who knew grackles eat that stuff?

Least terns are fishing up a storm all in one spot. It's kinda near where the kid got his biggest flounder. Are baitfish fleeing from flounder? Common terns join them. And a Bonaparte's gull. A roseate tern lands on a lobster buoy conveniently close to some common terns for comparison. First roseate I've seen this year. The Bonaparte's gull is only my second one of the season. This one has the full black hood.

The battery was low when I picked up the radio and it's been dwindling ever since. Just before 11:00 I start wondering if it will last the shift. It starts chirping at me. Is that the "feed me" call of the radio? By roughly 11:15 it's dead. Oh well, I still have my cell phone. I mention it to Unit 3 when she's showing around two new plover warden recruits. She tells Gatehouse to give my relief a fresh radio.

Relief arrives without a radio. Back at the gatehouse I find out they're all dead and being charged. Life in the land of gulls and radios gets so complicated sometimes.

At the Fish Tale, no see 'ums are biting the tourists on the deck. I eat French Toast at the counter. Fun to have breakfast for lunch. Back to Plum Island Coffee Roasters for a pound of French Roast Sumatra so Nancy and I can sip fresh tasty coffee on Sunday morning. Then it's off to pick up laundry and Nancy and head to Lowell for the Portuguese feast (we are devotees of New England's Portuguese feasts).

1 comment:

dAwN said...

I love stopping by to see what roast is brewing!
Great accounts of your day plover watching on the beach.