Sunday, October 11, 2009

the wrack is peeping!

Coffee of the Day: George Howell Select Espresso Sorrento blend (brewed and consumed at home, not on the beach)
Bird of the Day: Western Sandpiper
Wrack Item of the Day: Peeps! (the shore bird kind, not the marshmallow kind I famously mailed to Bosnia)

Needing to burn off some adrenaline from Red Sox playoff tension, moving Mom stress, Gray Cubicle stress and so on, I went for a walk on the beach. I parked at lot 6 and encountered yellow-rumped warblers all over the place -- in the bushes, in the trees, on the ground, under the boardwalk... I'm used to having brown thrashers or mourning doves fly up from under my feet but this is the first time I've experienced that with a yellowrump.

From Lot 6 I started walking south toward Sandy Point. Just past the no-driving-past-here sign, I spotted three semipalmated plovers foraging in the wrack.I sat down on a log to watch them and try to take some pictures without disrupting their all-important fueling up for the rest of the migration. One of 'em, I swear was posing for me. It kept doing all the cool plover postures right where I could get the best view. :-)
I'm soaking in the wind and the surf and the sun when the wrack starts peeping all around me. Seriously, the peeping is coming from the wrack. Holy shorebirds! I'm surrounded on all sides by peeps hunkered down in the wrack! At first they seem to be mostly semipalmated plovers, at least 15 of them at first count.
But, see those rocks in the wrack? Not rocks. Sleeping peeps.
There's a shorebird ID workshop breaking out in the wrack! BTW, note this is literally wrack -- you can see it's mostly bladder wrack.

The sandpipers were mostly hunkered down with bills tucked into their feathers while the plovers moved around almost manically.

A small group of semipalmated plovers and semipalmated sandpipers started walking up toward the dunes. As I watched them, a sanderling joined them and then passed the crowd as if it were a race. Hmm,, a bike race, the tour de plage, with semipalmated peloton and sanderling breaking away?

The best surprise of all was a Western Sandpiper, which popped out of the wrack, stretched its wings and showed me its distinctive slimmer slightly down curving bill as if to say "Hey. look at me, I'm not one of these ordinary peeps!"

I lost count at 30 of the semipalmated plovers, about 8 to 10 semipalmated sandpipers, 4 sanderlings, and either 1 or 2 western sandpipers (might have counted the same one twice as they and I moved down the beach).

It was a low total species count kind of day overall, with the aforementioned yellow-rumped warblers and peeps plus a lot of double-crested cormorants, two snowy egrets, 1 great egret, and two turkey vultures. But who cares about the list when the wrack is peeping all around you?

1 comment:

Kim said...

Now that's a lot of peeps. You got some great photos too. Shorebirds are so cute! Nice find on the Western Sandpiper. It's one I still don't have. Maybe next year!