Monday, July 11, 2016

and the days go by

Friday July 8,2016
Bird of the Day: the Franklin's Gull I didn't see
Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Harrar
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: assemblage of beach trash in the shape of an airplane
Invisi-bird Status:Official: 40 pairs, 15 nests, 22 families, 58 chicks. Number actually seen by me: 1 adult, 1 chick.
Impressive Clouds to the South
For an overcast and windy morning, there was still a fair amount of visitor action on the beach. All the visitors were cooperative and interested -- including two women who asked a lot of questions about least terns (maybe I should change the name of this blog to the Least Tern Diaries -- just kidding). Another woman asked me where was the best place to find sand dollars. I told her Sandy Point, but she didn't want to go there so she wandered north along the water line onto the Newbury town beach. There weren't many shells of any kind near the water, so I have no idea whether she found what she was looking for.
Incoming Tide
The tide was out and it was a long walk to the water line, but I didn't have to sprint to catch people this week. Someday I will figure out a tide proof, water proof, safe solution for marking the boundaries at low tide. If you're a long term reader of this blog, you'll know we've tried all kinds of things with rope, buoys, concrete blocks... and of course the ever popular trademark Big Steve stick fence. Where's the app for this? :-)
Weird Wrack Item of the Week
I'd only been there about 15 minutes when I spotted a piping plover chick running around. It looked big enough to be able to fly, but I didn't see any evidence that it actually did. I suspected this chick belonged to my favorite pair, and sure enough I did see one of the parents shortly thereafter. Later on when bio staff came by to start the survey, I mentioned it to her and she confirmed that was the only chick left from my favorite pair. She counted it as a fledgling because as of today (Friday) it reached the age that is technically considered fledged.
Maybe It's Supposed to be a Plane?
My glasses, my binoculars, and my camera kept getting all covered in sea spray as the wind was coming in over the water. That and the low cloud cover made it really hard to identify the birds that were flying by out on the horizon. It also made it not much fun to take photos. My only photo fun was with the strange construction someone had made out of pieces of wood, pieces of wire lobster traps, a concrete block, rocks, and fishing gear. Once I positioned myself correctly, I realized it was supposed to be an airplane. The other fun moment involving the pile of beach junk was when the funky looking gull who has been hanging around for several weeks, discovered some mussels on it and started trying to pry them off. 
Gull Eating Part of It
Speaking of gulls, a couple of birders had reported a Franklin's Gull seen off Lot 1 early in the morning. By the time I was on duty, it had left the Lot 1 beach area. Later in the morning (around 9:30), another birder reported it on a sand bar in the mouth of the Merrimack.  Sigh. I am nowhere near as good as Doug Chickering at writing riveting stories about the bird I missed. As for the birds doing the flyby way out on the horizon, I am guessing they were some species of shearwater too far away to identify -- other birders had reported a movement of shearwaters of various kinds visible off Lot 1.

In other piping plover news, a couple of regular readers have asked my opinion on the new Massachusetts statewide piping plover plan announced in this press release today (Friday). I really feel like I need to read the whole plan in depth before I offer my opinion, so I'll hold off and do a separate blog post on that. Meanwhile, you can find the plan and supporting documents at

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