Friday, May 23, 2014

Least Terns Are Back

Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Harrar
Bird of the Day: least tern
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: unidentified round thing
Invisi-bird Status: Haven't seen this week's report yet.  Number actually seen by me: 2

Piping Plover in the Wrack Line
I really thought my shift would be rained out, but the rain stopped just in time. The heavy clouds mainly kept people off the beach. A few guys were fishing for stripers and not catching  much of anything. One guy caught the smallest striped bass I've seen yet. That was about it.

Had my first Big Steve sighting of the season. He was just leaving when I was picking up the radio and backpack at the gatehouse.  Also had a Tom Wetmore sighting. Would love to know what he saw with his scope looking out beyond the flock of long tailed ducks.
The pink plastic kiddie car is still on the town beach in the same spot. I didn't bother taking a picture of it because it hasn't moved.  There were the usual Hooksett disks on the beach. They're going to be there forever. There was even one in the parking lot at Plum Island Coffee Roasters. The strangest thing I found as I walked the wrack line was large round thing about the size of a salad plate - gray on top, black on the sides. It looked like some kind of filter disk though I can't figure out what it might be a filter from.

Large Round Thing in the Wrack Line
For most of the shift it was just me, the fishermen, and the birds. Two piping plovers flew in from the general direction of the 0.2 mile marker, doing their trademark peep-lo call. The both fed for awhile then one flew back. The other one stayed, running back and forth along the water line. It didn't stay in the closed area (they can't read after all), but it would turn back as soon as it got to about even with the boardwalk (if you drew a line from the boardwalk to the waterline, I mean).

Piping Plover in Outgoing Tide
A couple of common terns and a small flock of about 6 least terns showed up and were diving like crazy. It's good to see the least terns back for the season. I hope they nest on the refuge beach. It was fun to compare the least and common terns' diving techniques side by side.

At the Water's Edge
I hadn't really had to say much more than "Hi!" to a few visitors until a huge group of high school kids arrived on a field trip.  One of the teachers came over and told me they knew about the plover nesting, assured me they had a group permit, and all that stuff. I gave one of the other teachers some of the handouts about piping plovers.  The kids were doing some kind of interdisciplinary art project on the beach, which seemed harmless enough.  When the one plover who'd been around all day returned to the public use area, I asked the teachers to make sure the kids stayed at least 10 feet away from it.  They assured me everything would be OK.  Then I spotted boys digging in the dunes and girls sitting in the dunes right next to the signs that tell you the dune is fragile and keep out. I flagged down a teacher and asked him to talk to them, which he did. So far so good. Just before it was time for me to leave I spotted more kids sliding down the dune (you know, the one that's been slowing building back up -- you've seen it on the news...) ... Flagged down another teacher and she got right on it. I was relieved I didn't have to call Law Enforcement.  I did mention the situation to Gatehouse when I left.

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