Saturday, April 6, 2013

first shift of the season

Now that spring is allegedly here, it's time protect the piping plovers. My first shift of the season was Friday morning. I bundled up for the cold and wind and grabbed a coffee at PICR before heading onto the north end of the refuge beach.
It's that time of year again.

Coffee of the Day: Boatyard Brew
Bird of the Day: Long-tailed Duck
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: Stairs
Invisi-bird Status: rumors that they're around Sandy Point. Number actually seen by me: zero.

The beach is a whole different place after this winter/spring with the coastal storms. The dunes drop dramatically to what's left of the beach.  The platform and stairs from the Lot 1 boardwalk no longer exist.

Where the Lot 1 boardwalk used to have a platform and stairs down to the beach.
Visitor-wise it was not a busy day at all. I never actually spoke to any visitors. A few people walking dogs on the town beach turned back when they saw me, without my saying anything.  Besides people walking dogs, the only activity on the town beach was the construction vehicles moving rocks. I'm not going to weigh in here on the mechanics of sand circulation, but you might want to read Orrin Pilkey's The Corps and the Shore  and/or  The Beaches Are Moving: The Drowning of America's Shoreline.
Looking North
The view to the south showed that people walking dogs had been on the refuge beach before I arrived. One clue that the canine footprints are of dogs and not coyotes etc. is the parallel set of human footprints next to them.

Looking South
The wind kept the bird action down, but I did get to see a flock of 44 long-tailed ducks come in for a landing on the water in their comical belly-flop fashion. These ducks are obviously not optimized for landing. With the wind and the waves, I couldn't hear their characteristic chatter, so I had to be content with just watching them.

No shorebirds of any kind were in evidence. I did see two common loons, a horned grebe, and a lone double-crested cormorant. Herring gulls and great black backs were loafing in the sand. Apparently it was too windy for gulls too -- except ring-billed gulls, which I think are the best fliers of all gull-kind.

As far as trash/debris washed up on the beach, I saw a  couple of wooden steps, probably from the Lot 1 boardwalk or one of the other boardwalks, lots of bits of fencing, tiny bits of plastic, and the inevitable Hooksett discs.

One of the Steps

Another One

The wrack line was mostly shells (with bits of plastic , like I said) and a little bit of salt hay -- no seaweed. The sand is already beginning to come back to the dunes, a little bit.

The Inevitable Hooksett Disc
The morning went by quickly. I had a little trouble with the radio, but no big deal. By the time I left, the overcast had cleared and the sun was visible. 

Seemed like every pile of shells had little plastic bits in it.

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