Friday, July 2, 2010

major gull action

Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Yirgachefe
Bird of the Day: Little Gull
Weird Wrack Item of the Day: half a used band aid
Coast Guard Assets Sighted: 1 Jayhawk helicopter
Invisi-bird Status: Refuge beach: 6 pairs, 8 nests, 20 chicks; Sandy Point: 2 pair, 1 nest, 1 chick; number actually seen by me: zero

Lovin' my hot coffee this morning in the cool breeze by the water. High tide was at something like 3:58 AM so it's still going out at the beginning of the shift. I build a stick fence in the official Big Steve style down to the water line. I keep meaning to ask for rope like we used to have, but the stick fence will have to do. I intercept the usual joggers in an iPod trance who ignore the boundary.

I'm grateful for the breeze because it keeps the greenheads down. Yup, they're back. I see a couple of teenage girls doing the greenhead dance. An older gentleman asks me for advice on how to keep them away. I recommend light colored clothing -- he's wearing black -- and Deep Woods Off. I'm smeared with the refuge-provided insect repellent, wearing a white shirt and khakis, and sitting close to the water. That all works.

I'm sitting thinking that it's really odd that I have not seen a single Bonaparte's gull yet this year when a flock of 10 of them flies directly over my head. Synchronicity? Whatever. More and more of them arrive and join dozens of ring-billed gulls, herring gulls, great black backs, and double crested cormorants in a feeding frenzy just offshore.

As I'm watching a small group of the Bonapartes I see one that's noticeably smaller. It wheels around and I see the dark under wings. Cool! A little gull! I watch it until the whole group of them moves back to the giant gull frenzy.

Major gull action continues, moving steadily to the southeast. I'm betting the bait fish are moving southeast. The human fishermen are not catching anything and one guy deliberately trespasses in the closed area but then moves as soon as I challenge him. Another guy finally catches a flounder too small to keep. The birds are the ones getting the fish today.

I spend a fair amount of time chasing kids who have escaped their parents and run into the closed area. I explain to them that we have some very special birds here and we don't want to bother them. That pretty much gets their attention.

There's a lot of aircraft action today too: a small personal-sized helicopter, a Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter, and 5 or 6 general aviation craft. It's a gorgeous day for flying whether you are a bird or a pilot.

As I'm leaving, I notice that several high muck-a-mucks have gathered at the new VCS/restroom building. They look like they're doing something official. Maybe it's really going to open this weekend. That would be great as the second most frequently asked question after how to avoid greenhead bites is "when are the new restrooms going to be open?"


Hilke Breder said...

Loved reading your post. I can picture the #1 beach, but greenheads are new to me? Horseflies?

Janet Egan said...

New all greenhead post is up. Yes, they are a type of horse fly.

Janet Egan said...

For those who asked, VCS is an acronym for Visitor Contact Station.