Tuesday, August 16, 2016

a bad day for beach umbrellas

Friday August 12, 2016
Bird of the Day: semipalmated plover
Coffee of the Day: Clipper City Roast
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: a really beat up shoe
Invisi-bird Status: Official: I don't have the new numbers yet. Number actually seen by me: zero
Gulls Loafing -- Mostly Ringbills

It's too darn hot. The beach is a little cooler than the other side of the dunes and there is a breeze. The greenheads seem to be mostly gone but the "small mean flies that aren't greenheads" (lots of people call them that, including my family members -- I have no idea what they're actually called) are biting and are not as deterred by the wind as greenheads are. Beach-goers seeking relief from the heat are extremely angry about the flies. They're also angry that the beach isn't open yet.  Sigh. One guy started singing Tom Doyle's "Fifty Ways to Kill a Plover". No, I am not going to link to it.  Anyway, the most common question today was "exactly when is the beach going to be open?" It drives people crazy that I can't give an exact date.  At the south end, Lot 7 is open and the beach to the north of that for about a half mile is open now.
Semipalmated Plovers
The "fall" shorebird migration is definitely in progress. Flocks of semipalmated sandpipers are continuing to arrive. This week they are joined by flocks of semipalmated plovers, the sleeker, darker cousins of the piping plover.  At one point a flock of about 20 landed on the beach just below the wrack line and all faced into the wind. It was pretty impressive. I lost count of how many semipalmated plovers there were because they just kept arriving in groups. I had fun watching them. I dreamt about dunlin last night, but did not see any of them -- maybe soon.
Ring-billed Gull
The wind was keeping most of the gulls loafing on the beach.  Again, it was all ring-billed, herring, and great black gulls -- no Bonaparte's gulls and no laughing gulls. The ringbills are pretty good at flying into the wind and tacking, but even they were pretty much taking it easy except for one mass flight out to a spot where lots of common terns were fishing. After the sudden frenzy they all returned to the beach. Also, the gulls are still molting. The breeze was so strong at one point that it blew feathers off of a ring-billed gull in mid-flight.
Lots of beach-goers means lots of beach umbrellas. Lots of protection from the sun, right? Well, yeah, if you can keep them from becoming airborne. The wind seemed the strongest just above ground level, so in addition to molted gull feathers, trash, hats, and bits of seaweed blowing around, it was a bad day for beach umbrellas. Umbrellas were blowing over, turning inside out, and, yes, becoming airborne all over the place. One umbrella flew over the heads of bathers and landed well offshore. It sank fairly quickly. This prompted some people to furl their umbrellas and secure them. Other people just kept chasing their umbrellas and catching them before they became airborne. I saw one umbrella blow over three times, bending one rib each time. That became one mangled umbrella. Chairs were blowing over too, but none of them took flight.

In the Water It's Cooler and No Flies
The flies and the flying umbrellas drove a few people to pack up and leave. Other folks sought refuge from the flies in the water.  I've never heard so many complaints -- even during greenhead season -- about a "relaxing day at the beach" not meeting expectations.
Weird Wrack Item of the Week -- Beat-up Shoe
There's currently not a lot of trash on the beach, which is a relief. The strangest item I saw was a really grubby beat-up shoe. It had clearly been in the water a long time and it looked like it had settled into the beach for a long stay. It was in the closed area, so I couldn't remove it.  In other trash/wrack news, all traces of that cargo cult airplane are gone. No cargo has appeared.


TomParmenter said...

No flying beach umbrella pix?

Janet Egan said...

Wish I'd gotten a picture or two of the umbrellas in flight