Tuesday, June 13, 2017

birds, fish, the tide and an app

Friday June 9
Bird of the Day: least tern
Coffee of the Day: Sumatra Mandehling
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: a silk flower
Invisi-bird Status: Official: Refuge Beach: 50 Pairs, 15 Nests, 9 Chicks; Sandy Point: 9 Pairs, 8 Nests, no chicks; Town Beach: 5 Pairs, 3 Nests; 3 Chicks. Number actually seen by me: 2

My personal plover pair -- that is, the pair closest to the boundary -- seem to have re-nested after losing their nest to predation. They were taking turns leaving wherever the nest is hidden to dash out for food.  I got good looks at each of them, so I was sure I was seeing two different individuals. 
Piping Plover Checking out the Wrack Line
The least tern show continues. Between courtship displays and defense of the territory they are pretty busy right now.  The action is taking place mostly between Lot 1 and Lot 2 so they're the first birds you notice when you come onto the beach.  The courtship involves lots of elaborate flying and calling by the male who then swoops down to offer the female a fish. This goes on for like 3 weeks, it seems.
I Don't Think She Wants That Fish
The male comes up behind and slightly to one side of the female and kind of waves the fish around. I have no idea what criteria the female uses to choose whose fish she will accept. There was one male who was directly behind the female and frantically waving the fish with no reaction from her at all. I was wondering how she could even see the fish. I would've thought he'd be more off to the side so she could get a good look at it.
Please Take My Fish!
When a great black back flew over and attempted to land near the least terns about 15 of them went after it, dive bombing it, pooping on it, and making a racket. Interestingly, once the great black back got to just about the refuge boundary, all but one of the terns decided their work was done and returned to their territory. One tern kept chasing and attacking the great black back, pursuing it north above the town beach until I lost sight of it. The tern did eventually come back.
The Least Tern Air Defense Command
Meanwhile, the humans were not having having as much luck at fishing as the least terns were. As one couple were setting up their fishing rods, I heard the guy say "I forgot the measuring tape." I just had to get in on this, so I responded: "There must be an app for that." After a quick search of the app store he found one, but it measures only in centimeters. His wife laughed and suggested that there must be an app that converts centimeters to inches. Sure enough he found one. Despite all the technical support, they never caught anything to measure.
You Can't See Me I'm Pretending to be Wrack
The tide was coming in and I had to keep moving my chair back. A fisherman who'd been on the beach all morning with no luck came over to talk to the measuring app couple. They advised him that the fishing is usually better on the incoming tide, which is why they had started much later than he had. This seemed to confuse him. Him: "What? Is the tide coming in? Did it just turn?" Me and measuring couple unison: "It's been coming in! High tide is at 12:30."  Strange conversation. And yeah, there's a tide app -- in fact there are tons of them. My favorite is Tides Near Me.
Weird Wrack Item of the Week

As I was walking along the wrack line, I spotted what I thought was some kind of flowering plant. When I got close enough to it, I realized it was made of some kind of cloth, possibly silk. It certainly reached a new beauty level for beach trash.

Looking South

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