Tuesday, July 5, 2016

the least tern air defense command strikes!

Friday July 1, 2016
Bird of the Day: least tern
Coffee of the Day: French Roast Sumatra
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: a weird thing I can't identify
Invisi-bird status: Official: Have not seen official report yet. Number actually seen by me: 6

A Long Way to the Water Line
Much schedule confusion involving disappearing emails, too many plover wardens scheduled at the same time, and stuff like that there, resulted in my taking the mid-day shift at the south boundary. I haven't done south in like two years because chasing toddlers whose parents are not watching them was much more of a problem there than at the Lot 1 beach.  Luckily the toddlers of yesteryear or their successors were not around this week.

The tide was out and there was a lot of territory to patrol. A small group of chicks have been running around at the south boundary so keeping people away from them was my main mission.  There is also a huge least tern presence at this end and my position was much closer to them. I have yet to see a least tern chick this year though.
Out for a Run
I spied the plover chicks and their parents right away and got to watch them do all the cute things plover chicks do. Believe it or not, in all my years of watching piping plovers, I had never seen a chick eat one of those clam worms that live in the wet sand. I'd seen adults do it and seen other people's cool pix of chicks with clam worms, but never seen it myself. So guess what? Not only did I see a chick eat a clam worm, I saw it repeat the action three times. It pecked, pulled up the worm, swallowed it, ran a few steps, pecked again and did the same thing. What amazed me was that it didn't come up empty-beaked. It got the worm every time.
Weird Wrack Item of the Week
At one point I stood up from my chair to reapply sunscreen and spotted out of the corner of my eye a least tern coming directly at my head. Just as my mind processed that it was about to dive bomb me, I felt the least tern poop hit me. I am officially part of the life of the beach! The least tern air defense command evidently coded me as some kind of predator. By the way, least tern poop does not mix well with sunscreen -- attempts to clean it off my arm resulted in smearing it all over.
Thinking About Flying?

With the chicks running around so much, especially choosing to run around outside the refuge boundary, teens with smart phones thought they could just follow them and take photos. One couple in particular following two chicks and getting way too close. I was a little brusque with them the second time I explained that it was NOT OK to chase them. If you want a photo, fine. If you stand still they will probably come close enough for you to get your Instagram shot. If you chase them, they will get stressed out and run like crazy instead of feeding. This is not good. I was kinda hoping the least tern air defense command would go after the teens. Anyway, the teens grunted at me and went to take pictures somewhere else.

Speaking of photography, a serious photographer with an expensive camera and tripod materialized in the closed area up by the dunes while I was down at the water line dealing with people who couldn't figure out where the boundary is because it's hard to see the signs from down there. Said photographer was already headed around Sandy Point by the time I got back up, so I never actually spoke to him. I love photography. I do it a lot. It is not necessary to trespass or to chase threatened species to get good photos. I wish more photographers respected the wildlife and the environment.

Gulls and Barnacles Hanging Out on the Rocks


TomParmenter said...

You get big bucks for this, I bet.

Janet Egan said...