Saturday, July 16, 2011

nice day

Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Bird of the Day: ring-billed gull
Invisi-bird Status: I don't have updated numbers for this week but I do know from talking to biological staff that one of the chicks that hatched on the town beach survived to fledge. Also, chicks from the two nests just north of the one that got predated are 25+ days old so should be fledged. He was on his way to check them out when I talked to him. Number actually seen by me: 0
Weird Wrack Item of the Day: a bed sheet
Refuge Biological Staff Sighted: 1
Coast Guard Assets Sighted: 1 boat

The nesting season is just flying by.  Piping plover chicks are fledging. Least terns are running around. The shorebird migration is already starting. Semipalmated sandpipers are on the move. I think the willets are already gone. And so on and so on ... Yup, it's mid-July.
North -- With Footprints and ATV Tracks
The weather was gorgeous. The tide was coming in. The greenheads were pretty much leaving me alone (light colored clothing, people). I met some readers of this blog and some visiting surfers. One of the surfers runs a surf shop in North Hampton, NH and his friend was visiting from Puerto Rico having her first cold water surfing experience. There were some good waves for them.
I met refuge biological staff as he was starting out on the ATV to check on the nests. The beach at parking lots 6 & 7 will open on Saturday (I started writing this on Friday). I saw Frank and some of the interns working on the boardwalk at lot 6.

Clam Tracks
Ring-billed gulls were putting on a show of behaviors, chasing each other, calling, catching flies in the wrack, and generally ignoring the humans around them. They were quite entertaining. One of the ways know I'm not really a "birder" is that I find ring-billed gulls endlessly fascinating. I would rather watch them chase the great blacks and herring gulls, catch flies, and practice fly catching than strain my neck trying to identify confusing fall warblers. Not that I don't enjoy warblers or identification challenges, it's just that gull and shorebird behaviors fascinate me.

Mollusks fascinate me too. I am always amazed at the epic journeys that periwinkles make from one rock to another at low tide. This time I noticed the "tracks" left behind by tiny white clams - very different from snails like periwinkles.
More Clam Tracks
Strange things, besides the Hooksett discs, wash up on the beach, especially at Sandy Point, but this is the first time I have ever seen a bed sheet. At first, I thought someone had left behind a beach blanket, but when I checked it out, it had clearly washed up and was clearly not a blanket. And, yes, there are still tons and tons of those stupid little plastic discs all over the place despite multiple cleanup efforts.
A Bed Sheet in the Wrack

The greenheads were out in force along the road and in the parking lot, but I continued to be able to escape their harassment.  There were two Mass Audubon vehicles in the parking lot when I left, but I did not see any Mass Audubon field trip while I was on the beach. I figure they were at the Sandy Point beach looking at the least tern colony, rather than tide pooling. This just in as I write this on Saturday, posted on Mass Audubon's Joppa Flats Facebook page:
"Green heads have landed! Sorry to say they chased us off Sandy Point today while on a collecting trip in the tide pools. Don't want to be bothered but still want the beach? Come to Joppa Tuesday through Sunday for live tide pool animal tanks from 9am - 2pm Free for all!"

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