Wednesday, April 20, 2016

another extremely windy shift at the beach

Friday April 15, 2016
AM Shift
Coffee of the Day: French Roast Sumatra
Bird of the Day: piping plover!
Weird Wrack Item of the Week:  a vaguely steam punk-looking thing so weird I have no idea what it is
Invisi-bird Status: no official report today and no chance encounter with biological staff. Number actually seen by me: 3!

Looking North
Just when I thought I'd experienced the windiest day of April, I got over the dunes onto the beach and discovered just how much windier it could be. The tide was going out so the waves were not as gigantic as last week's. I spent a lot of time walking down to the water line and back up to where I had anchored my beach chair with a couple of huge pieces of driftwood to keep it and my backpack from blowing away. Visitors were few and far between, mostly disappointed birders as the wind was keep bird action down.

Weird Wrack Item of the Week
There were several wrack lines mostly made up of shells and small bits of reeds, not a lot of seaweed. I saw less trash than usual and most of it was rope or parts of lobster traps. The weirdest thing by far was a rubber thing that looked like some kind of steam punk bathing cap or diving gear -- either that or some kind of plumbing supply. If anybody knows what it is, please feel free to let me know in the comments.
After repeatedly scanning the beach with binoculars and finding zero shorebirds of any kind I finally heard the peep-lo call penetrating through the wind and spotted two piping plovers running down to the inter-tidal zone from somewhere just below the dunes.  They hung around feeding in the wet sand just above the water line for quite a while. They were clearly a pair so I figured they must be the northernmost pair spotted by biological staff last week. I loved watching them stir up the wet sand with that foot trembling"plovering" motion. Whatever they were chowing down on was too small for me to identify.

The most interesting bird behavior of the day was a duel between a common raven and a red-tailed hawk. Corvids attacking red-tails is a common sight, but it's usually a mob of crows. This was a raven going at it one-on-one. The raven was very aggressive and drove the hawk to land on the ground several times. The hawk would then almost jump back up and chase the raven, with talons extended but the raven would quickly become the pursuer again. This went on for quite a while before both of them disappeared to the other side of the dunes. I have no idea who won or what they were fighting over.

As I was packing up to leave, a third piping plover came flying in over the dune making the peep-lo call and landed in the wrack line. It seemed to be catching some sort of insect that I couldn't make out with binoculars. I'd say three piping plovers and a raven vs. hawk show made up for the weather.



Unknown said...

"plovering sound" ?

Janet Egan said...

"plovering motion" -- some writers call that foot trembling motion "plovering" because it's characteristic of plovers