Saturday, April 28, 2012

blowing in the wind

Sanderlings and Surf
Coffee of the Day: Tanzania Peaberry
Bird of the Day: Sanderling
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: half a lemon?
Coast Guard Assets and General Aviation Craft: None whatsoever.
Invisi-bird Status: 2 nests with eggs - 2 each, so they're still in progress. Number actually seen by me: zero but I did hear one.

How windy was it? It was so windy that an attempt to take a sip of my delicious Tanzania Peaberry coffee from PICR resulted in coffee on my hat, glasses, and binoculars. It was so windy that my major challenge of the day was keeping my hat on rather than repelling invasive dogs. It was so windy that I actually got blown over while attempting to walk up to the boardwalk to get out of the wind.  The wind kept the birding action pretty low.

Feather in the Water

One thing the wind did provide was another opportunity to observe different species' ways of dealing with it. I've written before that gulls, especially herring gulls and ring-billed gulls tack. This allows them to make progress flying into the wind. For reasons I do not understand, American crows do not tack. They keep trying to fly straight into the wind and keep getting blown back.  Maybe someone from Cornell Lab of Ornithology could enlighten me about that.  The northern gannets seemed unaffected by the wind as they circled and dove into the schools of fish. As I noted last week, fish and gannets seemed to move together throughout the morning.

Awesome Clouds
Another thing the wind provided was a fantastic, ever-changing, cloud show.  The play of light and dark on the sand and on the water was hypnotic. I could have watched it all day except, of course, that I had visitors to talk to and birds to look for. One visitor from Germany wanted to know the name of Charadrius melodus in German. He wasn't familiar with the piping plover and didn't recognize the Latin name. I told him I only know the common name in English and French. It's a North American species, so maybe it doesn't have a common name in German. Something for me to Google in my spare time, I guess.

Half a Lemon Half Buried

Unit 21 came by for a short conversation before he started out on his survey. He told me there are two nests, each with two eggs. It's on! This is kind of early, but that's a good thing. I told him about the pair that I had seen near 0.1 and that His Royal Majesty Tom Wetmore, King of Plum Island (crowned by the inimitable Doug Chickering), had seen a pair just south of there earlier in the day -- he had a scope and was up on the boardwalk so had a much steadier view than I was getting of any bird on the beach with my binocs in the wind. 21 did check out the area I told him about. I don't know if the plovers were actually setting up housekeeping there or just hanging out.

A flock of sanderlings moved slowly north along the beach until they were just about at the boundary of the closed area. By moving north I mean they ran, not flew. If they intend to run to the Arctic to nest, it may take them awhile to get there :-)  One thing the sanderlings did today that I never saw before was to wade deeper into the surf and splash around with their wings. It wasn't the surf overtaking them, it was them going into it. I suspect there must have been small fish in the water.

Inevitable Hooksett Disc
Just when I was thinking "gee whiz, I haven't seen a Hooksett disc today, maybe they're gone," I saw a couple. They are going to be here forever. I'm still waiting for one to wash up on a beach in Europe. There's remarkably little trash on the beach, for which I am thankful to all the volunteers who participated in the cleanup, and all the people who are responsible about their trash. I did see a plastic cup embedded in the dune, tangled in the roots of the beach grass. I also found a plastic army man -- what is it with plastic army men on the beach? The plastic army man went into my pocket for future poetic or artistic use.

Plastic Cup Entangled in Beach Grass
There were no vultures on the roof of the pink house. All aeroplanes at the aerodrome were tied down. I didn't buy any books at Jabberwocky. The raw felafel at Revitalive was delicious. And I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

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