Friday, June 25, 2010

summer crowds

Coffee of the Day: French Roast Sumatra
Bird of the Day: ring-billed gull (again)
Weird Wrack Item of the Day: oddly, none
Coast Guard Assets Sighted: none, but I did see a bright red helicopter--just not a Coast Guard one
Refuge Biological Staff Sighted: none
Invisi-bird Status: No update since last report, which was: Refuge beach: 12 pair, 8 nests, 12 chicks; Sandy Point: 2 pair, 1 nest, 1 chick. Number actually seen by me: zero.

The summer crowds are definitely out in full force. The Sandy Point parking lot was full by 9:30 and parking lot 1 by 10:45. By the time I left cars were lined up from the gatehouse onto the Plum Island Turnpike. And today's a week day!

I talked with a ton of visitors, all of whom were reasonable. People asked the usual questions:
  • When will the beach be open?
  • When do the greenheads come out?
  • What are these little black flies biting me?
  • What time is high tide?
  • When will the beach be open?
  • When will the beach be open?
  • When will the beach be open?
You get the idea.

A couple of people were actually interested in piping plovers so I did get to give my piping plover life cycle spiel. One guy thought the plovers nested in the dunes and didn't understand why we had to close the beach if the birds were in the dunes. I explained it all with a smile. All in all I had a much better, far less burnout-inducing, shift than I did on Saturday. The heat was bearable, with lots less humidity. All the toddlers had parents watching out for them so I didn't have to track down stray parents of tiny trespassers.

I was pretty steadily busy, so didn't get a chance to take pictures or do much birding. There wasn't much bird action going on anyway. The most common bird of the day was again the ring-billed gull. I got to see them catch flies this time -- the little black ones that people were complaining about. There were a few surf fishermen who apparently hadn't got the message that the fish are at the mouth of the Merrimack. Not a flounder was to be seen anywhere near me today.

A double crested cormorant rode a wave right up onto the beach. It was the funniest thing. It positioned itself in the curl like a surfer and let itself be washed up on the sand. When it landed it walked up the beach and spread its wings to dry.

A lobster boat was just offshore pulling traps. Lobsters have become a theme lately. Everywhere I go even where I least expect it, people are talking about lobstering. People talking about low lobster prices over breakfast at the Fish Tale I kind of expect but not at the bookstore or the gas station - at least not usually. Same thing for the proposed ban on lobstering. My family got together for dinner in Boston's North End last week and the waiter announced lobster stuffed with lobster as the special for the out-of-towners. This triggered a lively discussion of the proposed ban, the low prices, and how lobster used to be bait and working class people's food and somehow became luxury food. Nobody ordered the lobster.

Hmm, I sense an entry about lobsters looming on the horizon...

Speaking of looming, weather conditions were perfect for looming today. Warm air over cold water resulted in the optical illusion of the Isles of Shoals and the skyline of Portsmouth hovering above the horizon line. I've seen this phenomenon many times but it's still pretty impressive every time I see it.

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