Friday, December 31, 2010
Newburyport Current: Plum Island homes imperiled by December blizzard
The Daily News of Newburyport: Emergency action approved for P.I. Sand barriers to be placed around endangered homes
WHDH: Storm puts Plum Island homeowners on edge
Lawrence Eagle Tribune: Plum Island home teeters on the brink
There was also a good article in Dredging Today before the storm: Plum Island Beach Erosion Concerns Residents
Thursday, December 30, 2010
A clear sign of lack of sobriety is jumping into the Merrimack to avoid a sobriety checkpoint:
Man rescued after jump from Lawrence bridge » Latest News » EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA
Even weirder than jumping off a bridge to avoid a sobriety checkpoint is jumping off a bridge to avoid being pulled over for running a stop sign: http://www.thesunblog.com/policeblog/archives/2010/12/really-bad-idea.html -- not a good idea at all.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
I saw a few more red-tailed hawks and another northern harrier near the Pines Trail, where I pulled off to take some more pictures. I scanned the field for about 20 minutes and as I was about to leave I saw a bird rise up from the edge of the field closest to the Bill Forward Pool and got excited. It was a largish shorebird-type bird with a yellowish brown butt and dark wings. I could see some white on the belly and the way it flew looked kind of large-shorebird-like, but I really couldn't get a good enough look to identify it. It flew north toward Hellcat. I jumped back in the car and drove to the Bill Forward blind for the best look at where I thought it was headed. No luck. Nothing.
Not ready to give up, having been teased by this mystery bird, I headed for Hellcat. The birders at Hellcat hadn't seen any sign of it. I ran into Steve again and told him what I'd seen, which was not enough to even call it a "maybe". I hung around Hellcat after everybody left and kept looking and hoping. Sigh.
Jim Hully, who found the bird originally this morning, posted his photos on SmugMug.
I'm sure Doug Chickering will post one of his wonderful not-finding-the-bird stories on massbird.org.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The winner of the window decoration competition was announced today: Chantilly Place. I'm not surprised. Their holiday window display is elegant and impressive every year.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
|Brant on Narragansett Bay|
|They're not swimming uphill, I was leaning on a rock at an angle.|
|I estimated roughly 150 to 200 total brant in the flock.|
|Domestic rooster trying to get into the farmhouse|
|Domestic geese in the barnyard|
|Domestic geese on guard against intruders|
|Domestic turkey with sheep|
Monday, October 25, 2010
Autumn in New England. You get a picture in your mind of red, orange, and yellow maple leaves when I say that. Don't you? Well, we did see plenty of maple leaves yesterday in our autumn tour of a tiny corner of the Merrimack Valley.
First stop on our extremely local tour of "New England Autumn" was the corn field at Barker's Farm. The corn stubble was overrun with hundreds of crows. They were in the field scavenging, perched in trees, flying back and forth, just all over the place. There was no sign of Canada geese, Sandhill cranes, or turkeys, all of whom were fixtures at that spot a couple of weeks ago. The crows seem to have moved into the goose niche.
Next stop was Crescent Farm in Bradford. For some reason, I've now been to Crescent Farm more times in the last 3 weeks than in the previous 30 years but I still haven't done the corn maze. Crescent Farm is a veritable farm theme park, with hayrides, cute animals, a corn maze, pick your own pumpkin fields, pumpkin ice cream, haunted hayride tours, birthday parties ...
One of the goats was extremely friendly and nuzzled Nancy's white cane through the fence. The alpaca was aloof, but posed nicely for pictures.
I've already had my one splurge on pumpkin ice cream for the season, and it was way too cold for ice cream yesterday anyway. Besides, what is Autumn in New England without cider? Hot cider. So once it started to rain in earnest, we went inside the farm shop for hot cider. As we enjoyed our cider, a group of Chinese students were avidly photographing all the different kinds of pumpkins and gourds for sale.
As we looked out over the fields we could see people picking pumpkins while carrying umbrellas, the hayride going by full of kids in Halloween costumes, and the animals chowing down on hay. The corn stubble field across the street from the silo and shop was completely empty of any bird life at all. No geese, no crows. I commented on that to Nancy, wondering why the crows were all at Barker's and not at Crescent.
The best moment of the whole Crescent Farm visit came as we were walking back to the car. I looked out over the fields again and suddenly a flock of about 300 crows erupted from the corn maze all at once. No time for a photo, but it was an awesome sight.
Our last stop for the day was at Anvil Farm in Boxford for some apples and a look at the pigs. The apples were great. The pigs were all asleep in their pig houses.The Barn at Anvil Farm
A good time was had by all.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
It was really hot that day and I was exhausted by the time we finished birding and sat down to an al fresco meal of traditional Hungarian fish soup. The lake was alive with egrets and herons who were there for the abundant frogs. Zsolt kept trying to keep my Collins Field Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe. I remember telling him I didn't understand why he wanted my English language one when the very same book was available in Hungarian -- translated by the very same Attila whom we had driven to Peteri Lake from Budapest and who was now guiding us. Never did get an answer to that. Nor did we ever resolve whether the frogs were telling each other long narratives.
I found this wonderful description of Peteri Lake and noticed that the author mentions Attila's visits: Péteri Tó Bird Reserve is also our Home. That brought back vivid memories of Indian rollers and sedge warblers and European goldfinches as well as the herons and egrets. It's a very special place.
For some reason I usually think of my misadventure while viewing the ferruginous ducks at the Tisza River when I think of that trip rather than the wonders of Peteri Lake. Of course, when I visited Maci two years later, her most vivid memory of that trip was our Otis tarda sighting, which was originally the whole point of the trip. Ah, those were the days.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The latest stuff in the Merrimack River:
- 200 tires, two motorcycles (one of them vintage), and five other vehicles: 200 tires pulled from Merrimack River
- a boat with no passengers, a winter coat, a fishing pole, and a life jacket:
Authorities Search Merrimack River After Overturned Boat Found - News Archive Story - WMUR Manchester -- this one is scary -- two people drowned in the Swift River over the weekend. Let's hope nobody drowned in the Merrimack.
- a new bilge pumping boat for Salisbury: Salisbury Harbor Commission opens up boat naming contest to public, gathers more laughs
- and a lot less sand: Dredging project wraps up - Newburyport, MA - The Newburyport Current
Thursday, October 14, 2010
WHDH-TV - Plum Island prepares shore against erosion
Will improvements to Plum Island help it stand up to bad weather?
Dredging project restores Plum Island Beach
Dredging Today – Plum Island Renourishment Project Come Up Short (USA)
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I had a nice surprise this rainy afternoon: 2 sandhill cranes only 3 miles from my house! They were hanging out with a whole lot of Canada geese in the corn stubble at Barker's Farm. Cranes and geese alike were eating up a storm. One of the cranes picked up a whole ear of corn and started pulling off the husk. It was cold and raining but I hung out and watched for awhile and tried to get some pictures. I went off to the farm stand to buy some corn and tomatoes for myself -- maybe the cranes were making me crave corn -- and mentioned to the woman there that there were two very beautiful sandhill cranes in the corn field. She said she knew about them and other people had mentioned them. After I got my produce (corn, tomatoes, Macoun apple) I went back for another look. The cranes were a tiny bit closer to the road and the rain was a little lighter so I got the above picture. A few other birders came by while I was there.
On the way back home to cook the corn, I met a flock of wild turkeys blocking the road. Quite a birdy day!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Nancy and I were keen to meet Webster because we contributed to the fund to pay for cataract surgery for him so he could continue to live and educate at Audubon Society of Rhode Island. We were thrilled that he is recovering very well and can see well enough to catch his food and not fall off his perch. May he live many more years!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Putting on my tech writer (and geek humor) hat for a second, this is the first time I've seen the phrasal verb "to ground out" used to mean "to run aground". It's more common to see "to ground" used to mean to run a vessel aground. I got this mental picture of a batter hitting the boat on the ground to an infielder who throws it to first base. I'm trying to visualize the mouth of the Merrimack as a baseball diamond. First base at Butler's Toothpick and third at the lighthouse? How far upriver would you have to hit the boat for a home run?
Other Merrimack River news links:
- WBZ has a picture that gives you a good idea of how big the pipe is. That article has some good video of big yellow vehicles moving sand too.
- More on the high surf from Igor: Distant hurricane stirs up waves, currents along coast.
- Obligatory article about tires, junk, and stuff in the river: Haverhill wants exposed debris removed from river.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I wondered if any seals would haul out on top of the pipe instead of on the rocks or the beach. Probably not.
Some press coverage of the dredging:
- Merrimack River Dredging Will Require Attention of Boaters -- from Dredging Today
- Salisbury braces for noise, hassle from beach project -- from The Daily News of Newburyport. This article also a cool Tech Note about the cutter dredge.
- Beach nourishment project gets underway -- from the Newburyport Current
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tires, shopping carts, and plastic bags: River teeming with tires, other junk: EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA
Sand soon to be dredged: Dredging to now start Wednesday from the Daily News of Newburyport