Monday, April 23, 2012

air shows - avian and otherwise

Beach -- Looking South
Coffee of the Day: Tanzania Peaberry
Bird of the Day: piping plover
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: a star-shaped balloon inscribed "I wish I was a wiszard" (sic) in a child's hand writing
Coast Guard Assets: None, but the general aviation craft more than made up for lack of awesome Jayhawk helicopters. 
Invisi-bird Status:  Rumors of some laying eggs already. Number actually seen by me: 3! 

High tide, not much of a crowd despite school vacation week, a gentle breeze, and a few lingering long-tailed ducks set the mood for  Friday morning on the beach. Plus I was treated to my own private air show -- actually several different air shows. While I was checking out the long-tailed ducks, I heard an airplane engine. I looked up to see a propeller plane doing aerobatics!  The pilot was putting it thru its paces with barrel rolls, loops, slow rolls, and other maneuvers I don't remember the names for. There were only 3 other people besides me on the beach and one of them was asleep. It really did feel like a private show. At certain points in a loop, the sunlight highlighted the red on the wings and fuselage - really pretty aeroplane. 

There were few birds besides the long-tailed ducks out beyond the surf, two northern gannets in the air, and two herring gulls on the beach, so my attention stayed on the aerobatic aeroplane until I heard a faint "peep-lo" call. I whipped the binoculars off of the air show in the direction of the call just in time to see two piping plovers cruise in over the water onto the beach. A third one flew in, they did a few aerobatic maneuvers of their own, and took off, peep-loing all the way, over the dune at the 0.1 mile marker. My first invisi-birds of the season!

Herring gulls and ring-billed gulls were starting to gather into a sizable roost on the beach just south of the boundary. Northern gannets and double crested cormorants started gaining in numbers too.  There were even two more general aviation craft - nice day for flying.  The plovers didn't come back my way, and the aerobatic aeroplane returned to the aerodrome, but the northern gannets took over the aerial entertainment.  A couple dozen of them, gleaming white with perfect black wingtips, put on a spectacle of plunge diving. There must have been a heckuva lot of fish out there because more and more birds kept joining them.

Even the ring-billed gulls put on a show, first in the air with their drop-and-catch thing using pieces of straw or seaweed, then on the beach with a bobber. That show, I did manage to get some photos of.
An Ordinary Fishing Bobber
A ring-billed gull found a bobber in the surf at the water line.  It probably mistook it for a tasty mollusk of some kind.

Look what I found!
The gull picked it up with its beak and took off south to enjoy the prize. Two other ring-billed gulls noticed and took off after it in hot pursuit.

We're not paying any attention to this, or are we?
 It changed hands, er, I mean beaks, several times. Nobody had any luck breaking it. They kept dropping it close to the water line.
Maybe we can play soccer with it?
They started kicking it around like a soccer ball. The one that finally ended up with it flew even further south and I lost sight of it.

It's all mine!

The fun didn't stop when I left the beach either. As I drove along the Plum Island Turnpike I saw a turkey vulture circling overhead. Then I spotted two more turkey vultures --perched on the roof of the empty pink house next to the aerodrome!  They looked ridiculously large and out of place. Birders and non-birders alike were pulling off the road to look at them. Had it been a Saturday instead of Friday, there would have been a major traffic jam.

Vultures on the Pink House
You never know what you might see on Plum Island. Ever.

All these exciting sights, and I still had time to get lunch at Revitalive, buy a copy of Fenway 1912 at Jabberwocky, and start reading it over a second cup of coffee at PICR before heading home to watch the 100th anniversary festivities and less than satisfying Red Sox vs. Yankees game.

No comments: