Saturday, June 25, 2016

life on the beach

Friday June 24, 2016
Bird of the Day: glossy ibis
Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: the space shuttle (OK, it was an inflatable toy, but still)
Invisi-bird Status: Official:  42 pairs, 20 nests, 17 families, 51 chicks.  Number actually seen by me: 2

I'd heard reports of the first greenhead of the year so wore light colored pants and a long-sleeved white shirt in addition to carrying a brand new can of Deep Woods Off. Thankfully however, not one greenhead came anywhere near me. It is after all still June, so the real season of the winged jaws is still to come.

Loafing at Low Tide
The tide was out and most of the beach bird life was just hanging out on the sand. All three usual gull suspects (oddly I have not seen any Bonaparte's or Laughing gulls lately), least and common terns, piping plovers, and the inevitable common grackle seemed to be loafing for most of the morning. The common terns did get stirred up when there was a sudden influx of bait fish just offshore and went into a brief frenzy of plunging head first into the water and coming up with fish. A few of the least terns joined them, but mostly they sat around in the sand.
Gull with Reflection
The influx of bait fish attracted stripers of course (yes, spellcheck stripers is a word) and one guy caught a huge one that attracted kids running from all over the beach to check it out. The fisherman took his obligatory selfie with the fish as did a couple of his buddies. I guess catching it was a group endeavor.  Remember the days when you had to get a friend with a camera to photograph you with your striped bass and you yearned to be on the wall of fame at Surfland? I wonder if there's a hashtag equivalent of Surfland's wall.
Piping Plover
The plovers weren't putting on a show for me either. I didn't see any chicks this time. I did see one adult foraging in the wet sand and then shortly before I left, I saw another one way further down the beach so I intuit that it's not the mate of the one nearest me.
Looking North
This seemed to be the biggest beach day of the summer so far. Sandy Point was already full when I got to work and Lot 1 was filling up by lunchtime. They didn't have to close the gate while I was there, but it was starting to look like it could be one of those days.
Least Tern
I didn't have much time to take photos because there were loads of visitors, but I was lucky enough to have least tern plop down on the sand close enough for me to get a long telephoto shot of its classic least tern pose. It's funny how sometimes you can tell what species is hanging out on the sand just from its body language.
Looking South
There was an influx of standup paddleboarders launching from the Newbury town beach. Nobody got caught up in any currents and nobody did any standup paddleboard yoga (which I still don't understand). Bathers were all behaving rationally and when the tide started coming in, I noticed that not a single one of them turned their back on the waves. Why are 7-year-olds so much smarter than fashion models?
Standup Paddleboarders
For once there was not much trash in the wrack. I did get a kick out of a little kid carrying a handful of shells in one hand and an inflatable space shuttle in the other. I suspect that he'd brought the space shuttle with him, not found it on the beach. The kid did not look old enough for there to have been a space shuttle flight in his lifetime. Odd to think of that.
Space Shuttle
Finally, in honor of #NationalPollinatorWeek I stopped at the patch of milkweed near the gatehouse for a few photos of the emerging flowers. I know when most people think about pollinators they think of bees, but Monarch butterflies are pollinators too (they pollinate many kinds of wildflowers) and they depend on milkweed where they lay their eggs. It made me happy to see the milkweed blooming. If you want to know more about monarchs and milkweed, here's a recent article: Common Milkweed Plants Needed to Sustain Monarch Butterfly Population.
Milkweed in Bloom


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