Monday, August 31, 2009


Seems like this year we waited forever for summer to arrive and now that it's finally come it's suddenly fall. Swallows are massing by the thousands. Flocks of peeps are on the move. Beach plums are ripening. Monarch butterflies are flying around the refuge too.

Late Sunday afternoon, I spent some time on Plum Island. Not really birding, just kind of paying attention to the birds. I sat at the Pines Trail overlook listening to the layers of cricket songs and experiencing the swallows swirling around me as if I were just part of the air like they are. They came close enough that I could pick out two bank swallows and a barn swallow among the thousands of tree swallows.

I took a walk on the beach and watched small mixed flocks of peeps streaming by, some stopping to feed at the water line and some continuing 0n past the rocks and down to Sandy Point. There were tons of semipalmated and least sandpipers, some sanderlings, two semipalmated plovers and one piping plover. Lots of people there too. Kayakers and boogie boarders and skim boarders and surfers. Two people were flying kites, which spooked the peeps.

Ring billed gulls, herring gulls, and one great black back were all roosting in the wrack molting. Whenever one would take off, I'd notice a little pile of feathers in the depression in the seaweed where they'd been. BTW, in this case I mean "wrack" literally -- a lot of the seaweed was bladder wrack. Most of the gulls were ringbills.

Double crested cormorants were on the move too, but in smaller flocks than the peeps.

Didn't see the Baird's or the Buff-breasted sandpipers that were reported, but I really wasn't looking. I was just enjoying seeing, hearing, and feeling fall happening all around me.

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