Friday, April 29, 2016

first tern of the year

Friday April 29, 2016
AM Shift
Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Harrar
Bird of the Day: common tern
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: large plastic barrel
Invisi-bird status: no official update and no encounter with biological staff so status is same as last week: 25 pairs. Number actually seen by me: zero.

Looking Northwest

It was pretty quiet for most of the shift. I basically had the beach to myself until almost 11:00AM. Even after that it was pretty slow with a couple of people asking questions and two people walking a dog boldly strolling from the town beach onto the refuge. They didn't get anywhere near the closed area because I intercepted them and politely explained that dogs are not allowed on the refuge. They were embarrassed that they hadn't noticed they were on the refuge. They were well past the sign on the boundary with the town beach but they were so engrossed in whatever they were talking about that they never saw the sign. Anyway, the dog was on a leash and the people were very cooperative, so no problem.
Lots of Lobster Gear
A few hundred long-tailed ducks were bouncing around on the waves well offshore but they were not noisy at all. You wouldn't even notice them if you weren't looking. That was a big change from last week.

The most notable bird sighting was the first common tern of the year. I was surprised to see it, because they don't usually arrive until May is well underway. It did a perfect plunge dive and came up with a fish (no I couldn't identify the fish) then flew off.  I didn't see any more terns after that so maybe he was an "early bird". The other first of the year sighting for me was tree swallows. I'd been hearing they were back, but hadn't seen them yet. Other than that, there wasn't much bird action on the beach. Not much birder action either.

Sea Gooseberry
Once again the weather was windy and cold. It was considerably colder on the beach than on the other side of the dunes. With so few visitors and so few birds, I had plenty of opportunity to walk the wrack line.  I found a sea gooseberry, which I first thought was a salp except that salps always appear in large numbers. It's missing the long filaments used to catch prey, but otherwise looks like the sea gooseberry. Come to think of it, those usually occur in swarms too. I don't usually have this much time to look this closely at marine invertebrates.

Knotted Wrack (I think)
I watched a bunch of seaweed washing up and then back out again as the tide was going out. It finally ended up on the beach. So yes, there is actual wrack in the wrack line :-)

Plastic Barrel
Trash items included the usual plastic bottles, Hooksett disks (OK, I only saw one, but still, that spill was years ago), a lot of lobster gear, and one large plastic barrel.

Moon Snail Shell
In today's episode of CSI Wrack Line, I found a moon snail shell with a perfect countersunk hole in it.  The northern moon snail preys on bivalves like clams by engulfing the prey with its foot and drilling a hole in the shell. Clearly this moon snail was eaten by another moon snail. That does happen.

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