Saturday, April 2, 2016

a windy start to the season

AM Shift North
Coffee of the Day: French Roast Sumatra
Bird of the Day: long-tailed duck
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: red rubber glove standing tall
Invisi-bird Status: Biological staff reports seeing a dozen on this morning's survey. Number actually seen by me: zero.

The piping plovers are back at PRNWR and so are the plover wardens. I spent Friday morning on the beach in the wind. The wind and the generally unsettled weather were enough to keep most people off the beach, so there were very few visitors.  I spent most of my time scanning the beach with my binoculars in the hope of seeing my first piping plover of the year. I did periodically scan the ocean as well and was rewarded with a few northern gannets and a large flock of long-tailed ducks.  A whole flock of long-tailed ducks coming in for a landing in their trademark splashy belly flop style makes quite a spectacle.
Looking North
The wind was blowing so hard that I couldn't keep my hat on. Every time I stood up, my chair blew over so I had to weight it down to prevent it from becoming marine debris. The clouds were putting on a show too. Observing the sky was almost as dynamic as observing the birds.

Looking South
A walk along the wrack line yielded a few interesting things. I spotted something red sticking up from the sand and headed over to check it out. Yup, it was a glove sticking up as if someone were deep under the sand waving for help. Somebody must have propped it up like that as some kind of April Fools joke.

This old and faded View-Master looked up from the sand like some kind of pinkish alien wearing goggles. Hmm, maybe it was somehow related to the glove. Or not.

Herring gulls and great black backs were resting on the beach. Once in awhile a herring gull would attempt to fly into the wind, but for the most the gulls seemed to be avoiding flying. The only shorebird I saw all day was a killdeer at the airport, not on the beach. Come to think of it, even the planes weren't flying. Too much wind. Have I said that enough?

The Dunes
I could see biological staff making their way up the beach doing the survey. It was easy to tell it was them and not trespassers because trespassers don't usually drive ATVs and because they were getting out and scanning beach and dunes with binoculars. Once they arrived at my end of the beach I chatted with them about the plovers -- there are a dozen out there so far -- and about how much warmer (although wicked windy) it was than on my first shift last year. Last year I was wearing three jackets and there was still snow on the beach. This year I was wearing a sweatshirt over my t-shirt feeling quite warm despite the wind.

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