Monday, May 22, 2017

least terns are back and louder than ever

Friday May 19
Bird of the Day: least tern
Coffee of the Day: Clipper City Roast
Weird Wrack Item of the Week:

Invisi-bird Status: Official: Refuge beach: 53 pairs, 23 nests; Sandy Point: 9 pairs, 4 nests; Town beach: 4 pairs, 3 nests. Number actually seen by me: 1.

Piping Plover
The least terns are back! I heard them making a racket before I even got to Lot 1. Once I got onto the boardwalk I could see them flying around. I ran into Unit 62 on the boardwalk and he commented on the least terns also. I counted at least 17 identifiable without binoculars -- it's kind of easy to id them when they're right above your head :-) I witnessed a lot of presentation of fish and bowing to each other, but no actual mating. There was one tern that kept flying around with the same fish dangling from his beak for over 15 minutes. He must have been holding out for the perfect match before even trying to present a fish. My duties distracted me from continuing to follow that particular drama, so I don't know how it turned out.

Looking South
The least terns were not the only ones having a busy day. The hot weather brought loads of visitors to the beach, especially parents with little kids.  Lots of visitors plus low tide means a busy day for me. There's way more territory to cover at low tide.  Most of the people I talked to were really interested in the piping plovers and one even asked about the least terns, so I felt pretty useful at the information communication part of the job.  The keeping people and plovers apart part of the job was a little tough because little kids are hard to intercept, especially if they're at the water line and I'm up at the wrack line answering a question. One little girl in a pink bathing suit took off into the closed area of beach, but I was able to get her mother's attention, so it all worked out.

Looking North
Other birds of interest besides the piping plover and the least terns were a least sandpiper hanging out with a couple of semipalmated sandpipers, a few common terns, an osprey, and a flock of brant. It struck me as kind of late in the season for the brant, but maybe I only thought that because of the heat.  Hot for May, feels like June, therefore brant should be further north ... whatever.

Same Dead Fish Only Further South and More Decayed?
I think the dead fish I saw several yards south of the boundary was the same dead goosefish I saw last week. It looked it had collapsed a little more, but the way the bones were sticking out of the tail looked like last week's fish.

Plover on the Run
Didn't see anybody catch any cool fish. By the time my relief arrived, I was definitely ready for lunch.

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