Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring Peepers under the moon and a trip to Plum Island

This past week I had my best friend from high school visit for a couple of days. Actually our friendship goes way, way back to elementary school.  It was warm that evening and we sat outside on the deck in the moon shine, listening to the chorus of spring peepers in the wetland next to the house.

We could hardly hear ourselves over the din. Faintly in the distance we could also pick up the intermittent peenting of the woodcock. I made a recording to remind myself in the dark days of next winter what spring sounds like.

On Thursday April 22 we drove to Plum Island to give my friend a taste of the Atlantic Coast - she'd been on the Pacific side before. The weather was beautiful; rain was forecast for the afternoon, but all we saw were dramatic dark clouds in the distance whereas the sun was still shining where we were. Since she isn't a birder and in order not to bore her I reigned myself in, just taking cursory looks at the various stations along the route.

A Northern Mockingbird was singing from the top of  high pine trees at various stops.

At the North Pool we saw a bunch of ducks, all of them Mallards and most of them with their heads under water and tails up in the air. The water was very quiet, blank like mirror and featureless.

We walked out to the beach on Sandy Point. There were very few people when we arrived before noon.  The ocean was calm. No birds except a lone Ring-billed Gull overhead.

We sat on the rocks and ate the sandwiches we had brought from home. I noticed a little straggly shrub with red leaves and light pink flowers growing in the shade of a dune close to the board walk. I wasn't able to find out its name, but if anybody recognizes it please let me know. (*see Comment) We didn't see any Piping Plovers.

On the way back at Bill Forward Pool I made out the shapes of a male Gadwall in breeding plumage and a Green-winged Teal feeding in the water.

At our final stop at Ocean Lot #1; there were a couple people at the town side of the beach; the refuge side was empty except for a lone Greater Black-backed Gull ....

 .....and in the distance one lone walker first carrying then walking his little dog on the refuge beach on the wrong side of the fence that closed the beach off to protect nesting Piping Plovers. 

We drove to the northern tip of Plum Island to look out into the open water. No gulls. Near the opposite shore, the Salisbury Beach State Reservation, seals were lounging on the rocks warming themselves in the sun.

On our way back we were going to stop at my favorite restaurant on the island where I used to have lunch, the Plum Island Grill, but were disappointed that it wasn't open until 5 PM, too long for us to wait. Happy with our day though we drove home.


  1. ...sounds like a wonderful day. I loved your photo of the moon and the recording of the peepers. I know what you mean about pulling those sounds up in the dead of winter. Remember a warm spring night can pull you through anything! Love the seals!!

  2. Super portrait of the Mockingbird. Love the still calm on the pond with the Mallards inversed! FAB.

  3. That recording is great! It's the most beautiful sound this time of year...the promise of summer.

    Your photos are great. My favorites are the Mallards, the moon, and the gull standing on the beach. Plum Island is such a beautiful area. Looks like you had a wonderful time!

  4. Hi Hilke,
    It looks like you got a very nice sunny day and the mocking bird picture is fantastic. Well done. I guess you enjoyed the moment!

  5. I really like the moon and mockingbird photos.-Nice description of the day.

  6. Looks like you had a fabulous excursion and got some great images.

    I'm impressed with the quality of your recording, very clean.

    Well done, Harold

  7. @ Kelly, Frank, Erica, Chris, Larry and Harold: Thank you for your comments! Much appreciated!

  8. I identified the shrubby plant looking at Sibley's Guide to Trees. It's a purple-leaved Cherry Plum, a widely naturalized cultivar, an ancient domestic hyprid originating in Eurasia.

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  10. Great pictures. Love the long shots down the beach but not the scofflaw!

  11. Thanks, Bill. I would have liked to confront him, but didn't really have the time to wait for him.


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