Monday, April 11, 2011

quiet beach day

On Friday I finally got to do my first plover warden shift of the season.  I didn't do it last week on account of snow. It was a gorgeous beach day. It was also my birthday (one ending in a 0).  I treated myself to breakfast at The Fish Tale and then stopped at Plum Island Coffee Roasters to pick up my beach coffee.

Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Bird of the Day: tree swallow
Wierd Wrack Item of the Day: Hooksett discs
Invisi-bird Status: arriving
Number of Invisi-birds Actually Seen by Me: none

looking south from the north refuge boundary
I saw my first tree swallows of the season, 6 of them, perched on the old purple martin house at Parking Lot #1. They flew over to the beach shortly thereafter to feast on the bugs in the wrack.  The tide was still going out when I arrived so there was a lot of beach to keep an eye on.

looking northeast
Most of the people and dogs were reasonably well-behaved. I did have a group of three people who each had a dog come onto the refuge beach from the Newbury town beach.  I simply told them that dogs are not allowed on a national wildlife refuge. Period. I repeated it again. They left the refuge. I intimidated a couple more unleashed dogs that had gotten out ahead of their people. None of them made it even close to the closed area.
gentle surf
I encountered one visitor from Oregon who was staying at Blue and didn't know about the beach closure. She'd never heard of the piping plover so I got to tell her all about the cutest birds on the planet. She was very excited and was going to read more about them online back at the hotel. She also commented on how gentle the beach and the surf  are compared to the rugged Oregon coast. The waves were pretty small and the tide was going out, so I can see how the surf seemed gentle. The wind was starting to blow really hard from the east so I suspect the incoming tide wasn't going to look so gentle even to somebody from Oregon.
barnacles on a mussel shell
Between visitors, I walked along the wrack line. There are still tons of those discs from the Hooksett sewage treatment plant in the wrack along with all the other kinds of plastic junk that washes up.
wrack item of the day: a Hooksett disc
The bird action was pretty light. I did see some long-tailed ducks, a couple of horned grebes, double crested cormorants, great black backs, and my friends the tree swallows.  I also saw a couple of great egrets in the marsh just past the gatehouse on my way out.

feather with shadow

The birthday celebration continued with lunch at Mad Martha's, watching the Red Sox vs. Yankees on tv, and Indian takeout with my family at the Beach Boys' house on Salisbury Beach.  It was a long but satisfying day.

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