Saturday, June 1, 2013

hazy, hot, and humid -- with boardwalk

Friday May 31 AM Shift North

Coffee of the Day: Tanzania Peaberry
Bird of the Day: eastern kingbird
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: hmm, no time to walk the wrack line this week
Invisi-bird Status:  Refuge beach: 22 pairs, 18 nests. Sandy Point: 4 pairs, 3 nests. Town beach: 0. Number actually seen by me: 5.

The once and future boardwalk is now a present reality! Yup, the Lot 1 boardwalk is back just in time for the hottest day of the summer so far, oh wait, it's still spring and it's 90 degrees. We have stairs down to the beach!

Look! We have stairs!
Last week, I had exactly one visitor.  This week I think I lost count at 23 (I put 23 in my report, but there may have been more.).  The big difference: Lot 1 is open. OK, maybe the heat is a bigger difference. People were streaming onto the beach starting before 8:00AM.  The tide was going out for most of the shift. I think low tide was a little after 11:00 AM. It was way cooler by the water so as the tide went out everybody moved closer to the water.  Visitors looked longingly at the empty beach in the closed area but were all cool with it when I pointed out a nearby piping plover pair feeding in the exposed sand flats near the boundary. I find the line "The birds are having their babies and we don't want to bother them" works very well with preschoolers, especially little girls in the pink phase.

Pushing the Limit
People set up as close as possible to the boundary, pushing the limit, so I just walked up and down and up and down for as long as I could handle it to make sure they had a good idea of where the boundary is and that I really am watching. I took the above photo from the boardwalk as I was leaving. You can see the chairs, toys, and people all lined up.

I had to be a big old meanie and tell a little girl and her mom that they could not fly her new kite on the refuge. I suggested they move to the town beach.  The mom had no problem with that. The kid was a kid. Speaking of little girls, I have rarely seen so much pink as I did today. Most girls had pink bathing suits, adorable pink beach chairs, pink shovels, pink buckets, pink trucks (???), you name a beach toy and they had it in pink. I wonder if the cool pink folding beach chair with canopy comes in adult size. I could be tempted.

Little Piping Plover and Medium Sized Wave
The northernmost "pair" of piping plovers continued their "just friends" behavior. They fed on the flats for hours but I saw no sign of mating behavior or scraping.  When pointing them out to a keen visitor, I said "buddy" instead of mate and when the visitor exclaimed "Buddy?" I told him the saga of how they act like a pair but haven't nested. Biological staff came by and we compared notes on these two. He came up with the idea that they're having a very long engagement.

Three more piping plovers flew in for a while near the end of my shift and fed along the town beach.  They were still there when I left, so I don't know if they returned to nests somewhere near there.

Low Tide -- Looking Toward the Boardwalk
The birding treat of the day was my first eastern kingbird of the season. Thoreau refers to June as "Kingbird Days" so it was kind of cool to encounter one on the last day of May as we enter into June.

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