Tuesday, May 10, 2016

it just doesn't feel like May

Friday May 6, 2016
AM Shift
Bird of the Day: Willet
Coffee of the Day: Clipper City Blend
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: tie between brightly colored Velcro ball and half-full (or half-empty) bottle of soda
Invisi-bird Status: no official update - bio staff was on her way out to begin the survey just before I left for the day. Number actually seen by me: 5

Mount Agamenticus in the Distance
I thought it would be a more May-like shift when the clouds lifted and the threat of rain vanished. Hah! After a mild start to the morning, the wind changed. Coming in over the water, the wind picked up enough spray that I had to keep wiping off my glasses, not to mention the wind chill had me wishing I'd brought gloves. Wind chill? Gloves? Is this really May? It just doesn't feel like May.

Mount Agamenticus in Maine made itself visible as it sometimes does. For once I got a photo of it looming in the distance.  I did not spend a lot of time taking photos between attending to visitors, looking at the long-tailed ducks bobbing on the waves, and trying to keep my stuff from blowing away.
Backpack, Notebook, Coffee Cup, Driftwood
I sent a pair of visitors from Chicago to Sandy Point for a more sheltered beach walk and a better chance of seeing some birds. I did point out that their best chance for shorebirds was the salt pannes and for warblers etc. they should stop at Hellcat on the way.
Waves Breaking
The tide was coming in, so I set up pretty far back to minimize moving. That worked out well. I did not need to intercept any visitors at the water line. The most interesting visitors of the day were a huge group of school kids on a Mass Audubon field trip. They were learning about piping plovers by pretending to be plovers foraging in the wrack line and being harassed by predators. The instructors were waving stuffed animals to simulate the predators. I couldn't help laughing.
Mass Audubon Kids Field Trip
Two individual piping plovers had put in separate appearances in the wrack line near the boundary of the closed area earlier in the morning and a small flock of three flew by above the water line while the kids were there, but they were out of sight before I could get the instructors' attention. Five piping plovers is the most I've seen so far this season.

My favorite sighting of the day was my first willet of the year. Yeah, I know they've been back for awhile, but somehow I hadn't seen one yet. It let me know it was there with its "pill-will-willet" call.
Weird Wrack Item of the Week 1
The high tide brought up a lot of wrack, mostly plant material of various kinds -- reeds, oak leaves, various types of seaweed, and so on.  I only saw one Hooksett disk, which was somehow reassuring. Maybe we're almost rid of them.

The least explicable item was a half full bottle of some kind of soda. It had clearly washed up and looked like if I dared to open it I would have been splashed big time. Who throws away a half full (or half empty) bottle of soda? Usually bottles are empty (or have messages :-)).  Somewhere in Goffstown, some kid is probably wondering what happened to all that soda.
Weird Wrack Item of the Week 2
The most colorful piece of trash was a red and purple Velcro ball, which may have been left behind by kids playing rather than washed up by the tide. I don't know. I just know it's trash.
Wrack Line
Shortly before I left and shortly before high tide, biological staff came by on the ATV to do the survey. We chatted about how it's hard to find the nests even though we know we have 25 pairs. Piping plovers are masters of camouflage -- that's why I call them the invisi-birds -- and the way biologists usually figure out where the nests are so they can monitor them is by looking for the tracks. With all the rain we've had lately, not many tracks of any kind are visible.

 By the time I left it was full high tide and my fingers were frozen. Imagine my surprise when I got over the top of the dunes to the parking lot and discovered it was warm there.  I stopped at the airport and wrapped my hands around a sweet potato and black bean burrito from Metzy's taco truck.  That made it feel a tiny bit more like May.
Actual Wrack in the Wrack Line

No comments: