Sunday, July 8, 2012
'"You'll hate me at 4:30 and love me at 6:00." These were the words used to convince my companions that the best way to enjoy Saturday outdoors was to be on the water at dawn, and off the water before the crazy heat and crazy boaters took control. And that's what we did, putting our kayaks in by 5:30 a.m and paddling down to Towsend's Inlet, near the site of the Avalon seawatch, and back around through Stite's Sound, getting off the water by noon, when the mercury had already climbed to 99 degrees.
We encountered a few dozen southbound migrant shorebirds, mainly Short-billed Dowitchers but also Least Sandpipers, both Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and a few Black-bellied Plovers. All of the latter were in non-breeding plumage and presumed first-summer birds - individuals that likely didn't make it all the way to their Canadian breeding grounds, or if they did, did not actually breed. Southbound post-breeding adults will show much more breeding plumage.
Yes, there are greenhead flies and mud in the back bays, but the rich life draws naturalists back again and again. Tern colonies, gull colonies, heron colonies, shorebird-riddled mudflats, banks packed with ribbed mussels, Ospreys overhead, fish swirling beneath, grunting sentinel Clapper Rails - the coastal cornucopia.
Near one Forster's Tern colony we saw multiple Gull-billed Terns and heard more "ka-ruck" ing (the call is higher than a Black Skimmer's but similar). Presumably at least a few pairs of Gull-billeds are nesting among the Forster's north of the Avalon Causeway.
Posted by Don Freiday at 3:13 PM