Saturday, April 22, 2017

quick update

Random Mussel Shells and Stuff
Bird of the Day: turkey vulture

Coffee of the Day: French Roast Sumatra

Weird Wrack Item of the Week: Stay tuned for weird beach trash next week. Due to the rain yesterday, I did not go to the beach.

Invisi-bird Status: Official: Refuge Beach:  29 pairs, 9 singles; Sandy Point: 6 pairs; Town Beach: Newbury: 1pair, Newburyport: 2 pairs. Number actually seen by me: zero because I wasn't there.

My personal turkey vulture has returned to its traditional perch near the parking lot of my condo. The dark-eyed juncos are gone. The world's loudest tufted titmouse is making a racket on my patio. Many red-winged blackbirds are hanging out by the brook (or do you call it a creek) that runs into the Shawsheen along the edge of the condo property.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

less windy, more dogs, one plover

Friday April 14, 2017
Bird of the Day: American kestrel (again)
Coffee of the Day: Tanzania Peaberry
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: plastic lobster
Invisi-bird Status: Official: "They're here." Number actually seen by me: 1

Blue Sky to the South
It was a beautiful day to be on the beach, so there were lots of visitors. It was less windy than last week and the wind was coming in off the water instead of from the southwest. The wind direction meant poor conditions for hawk-watching. There wasn't a whole lot of bird action on the beach or offshore. I did finally see one piping plover foraging in the wrack line. Conditions for foraging in the wrack line were extremely good as there has apparently just been a hatch of winged ants. Normally, the purple martins would get excited about the winged ants, but the only purple martins I saw were the decoys at the nesting gourds.
Blue Sky to the North
The radio was not working so I left it in the box and left phone messages for HQ and Gatehouse that I'd be using my phone if I needed to communicate. Fortunately, I really didn't need to communicate with them.
Interesting Arrangement of Debris
It was a big day for dog walking so I wore myself out walking back and forth along the waterline to intercept them at the refuge boundary rather than at the boundary of the closed area. Dogs are not allowed on the National Wildlife Refuge with the exception of seeing-eye/service dogs and duck retrieval dogs during hunting season. One guy tried to convince me that no dogs rule is no longer enforced at PRNWR. He said he was told that by a family member who lives on the island. I managed to convince him that is not true. Whatever the town of Newbury decides to enforce or not enforce on the town beach is something else.  The other dog owners were much more cooperative.

Another Interesting Arrangement of Debris
One visitor asked about volunteering to be a plover warden and wanted to know if we'd still need volunteers in July. I explained that July is the most crucial time to have good plover warden coverage because the chicks haven't fledged yet and are running around on the beach. I directed her to headquarters. I hope she volunteers.
Weird Plastic Lobster=Weird Wrack Item of the Week
My favorite bird of the day was an American kestrel perched on the 0.1 mile marker. With the general lack of raptor action I was surprised to see a kestrel at all. I loved that it perched on the marker, where I usually see red-winged blackbirds, eastern kingbirds, or the occasional common grackle. I should start keeping a list just of the species that perch on the mile marker.
Tiny Crab with Coffee Cup for Scale
There were lots of shells around, more so than last week. Mussels were the most common, but there was some variety. It was low tide, so lots and lots of wet sand was exposed. 
All in all, it was a pretty day. I worked really hard and I survived without the radio. On to next week, when I hope to see more piping plovers.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

the season begins with southwest wind

Friday April 7, 2017
Bird of the Day: American kestrel
Coffee of the Day: Guatamalan
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: blue and white plastic basin
Invisi-bird Status: Official: rumors of them at Sandy Point and Emerson Rocks.  Number actually seen by me: zero, but I did hear one.

Big Waves
The season has begun. Piping plovers have been seen, but not by me.  Time for them to get down to the work of reproducing.

There wasn't much bird activity on the beach at the north end of the refuge. A few scoters of some kind or other bobbed around fairly far offshore between the huge waves. Pro tip: if you watch waves through binoculars long enough -- while trying to identify scoters or othwerise -- you start to get seasick.

I chatted with a birder from Oklahoma who wanted to see eiders and other sea ducks and some purple sandpipers. He wasn't having any luck. I told him his best bet for purple sandpipers was the south end where there are rocks. Purple sandpipers like rocks. As for the scoter-shaped beings between the waves, he couldn't identify them either.

What the Heck is This?
And Why is it in the Wrack Line?
The wind coming out of the southwest kicked up wild eddies of leaves and twigs kind of like dust devils. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether the movement was a flock of birds or just more leaves whirling around. It always turned out to be leaves.

Looking South
Clouds were moving around pretty quickly too. The constantly changing skies made for interesting photos.

Looking North
Most of the stuff in the wrack line was actual wrack rather than trash, except for a large blue plastic container of some kind, the usual lobster traps, and a whole lot of pieces of rope in various sizes.
The rope arranged itself picturesquely along the sand in little groups and included several different types, colors, and textures.

More Rope

The southwest wind brought lots of kestrel sightings and the usual contingent of spring hawk-watchers counting the migrants from Parking Lot 1.

Looking Southwest - Changing Sky