Monday, July 17, 2017

quiet day on the beach, wild ride home

Friday June 23, 2017
Bird of the Day: lesser black back (maybe)
Coffee of the Day: Ethiopian Harrar
Weird Wrack Item of the Week: a Hooksett disk
Invisi-bird Status: Official: Refuge Beach: 46 Pairs, 31 Nests, 15 Chicks. Sandy Point: 9 Pairs, 7 Nests, 4 Chicks.  Town Beach: 3 Pairs, 2 Nests, 0 Chicks. Number actually seen by me: 1

Changeable Skies
Another Friday, another iffy weather forecast. What is it with Friday's this summer? The skies looked ominous offshore, but the rain held off for the whole morning. The air was humid and full of no see ums. Seriously, I think I inhaled some.  There was almost no bird activity when I arrived. It was literally quiet -- no calling of least terns or common terns or anything.

The King of Plum Island, Tom Wetmore, was on the Lot 1 platform with his scope trained on the gathering of terns, gulls, and cormorants all resting on the beach just south of Lot 2 so I asked if he'd seen anything interesting. He mentioned a lesser black back and a black tern, two species I have not seen on Plum Island. I decided to keep a lookout for them as the morning went on.
Hooksett Disk -- They're Still Showing Up!
Just walking from the boardwalk to my spot near the edge of the closed area yielded a number of "trash in the wrack line" photo ops. The most surprising thing I found was a Hooksett disk. I can't believe they're still showing up. The Hooksett waste water treatment plant incident was in 2011!
These Glasses are Missing Something
I spotted some sunglasses that had clearly been on the beach for some time. One lens had migrated pretty far away from the frame.
Lens Missing from those Glasses?
Another oddity in the wrack was a small red plastic ring. Later, I picked up several of them while walking up to the refuge boundary to make sure the kite fliers stayed on the town beach.
Red Plastic Thingie
I had a chance to scan the roost of gulls and terns south of Lot 2 and saw one gull that could could have been a lesser black back but with the haze and shimmer I couldn't really make out the color of the legs or other definitive field marks. Bird action continued to be really quiet until two different groups of visitors arrived with kites. The least tern air defense command did not like this.

Scary Kite
Kites are not allowed on the refuge. They are allowed on the town beach. Beach nesting birds such as the aforementioned least tern air defense command mistake them for aerial predators. I politely and professionally asked people to move to the town beach with the kites, which they did. Alas the most predator-looking kite was still pretty close. After then initial least tern ruckus, the nesting area went very quiet and stayed quiet. Few birds were visible. They were all hunkering down in the wrack line in the most camouflaged places.

Lobster Boat at Work
As I was chatting with a fisherman from Lowell, a woman from Westford came over to ask about the plovers. The three of us had a good chat about the birds and about the return of various Merrimack River fish. Then the woman asked the fisherman what he thought about the downtown vs. Cawley site for the new Lowell High. He was very pro-downtown. I went off to chase another kite flyer and they settled in for along conversation about the LHS site -- both of them favoring downtown. There's something about the Merrimack Valley that makes it completely normal and unsurprising that fishing conversation turned to Lowell politics.
Stand-Up Paddle Boarders
And then there was this:

The predicted bad weather hadn't come up at all the entire time I was on the beach although I did see ominous clouds to the west. Little did I know what I was in for. The wind picked up and the rain started coming down as I hit Rowley on the way home. Before I knew it, it was raining so hard that I could barely see and Rt. 133 was turning into a river. Branches were flying all over the place and I had to dodge a few. Then it got worse. There was a huge branch, I guess you'd call it a limb, down in the road in Georgetown. Only one lane could get past it. The rain came down harder and harder. The wind was swirling around like crazy. I had to stop for a downed tree in Boxford and wait my turn as cars squeezed past it. Once I got past that, the storm got so much worse that I started looking for a spot to pull off the road but with no trees near enough to fall on my car. I spotted an area next to a farm field that looked fairly clear of lethal trees. A couple of other cars pulled off at that same spot. I sat there until the wind let up some and proceeded to continue through Boxford. Just before West Boxford Village, there was an even larger tree down in the road, with larger vehicles trying to get around it. I finally got around it and fortunately that was the last obstacle of the journey.  What a wild ride!

No comments: