Daily Observations

Western Sandpiper

I took a walk around the park beach both yesterday evening and this afternoon. Connor and Rowan came along with me today.

Weather: Yesterday was overcast. Today started out cloudy and very wet, but the clouds decreased as the day went on, and this afternoon it was partly cloudy.

Birds: Yesterday I saw mostly Black Turnstones at the beach. The Canada Goose was still in the estuary, and I saw a Raven harassing some Mallards (including pulling at some feathers).

Today there were a couple of Spotted Sandpipers, a dozen or so Western Sandpipers (with possibly a Least Sandpiper or two in the mix), and quite a few Black Turnstones. The tide was in, so there was very little beach for the birds to run around on, and the gulls were more or less absent.

While sitting on the beach I saw a couple of sizable flocks of ducks (probably Mallards) fly over. There were also three Surf Scoters offshore, the first I have seen from the park in months.

Last evening I heard a the clinking of stones while out on the beach. It took me a moment to realize that it was Black Turnstones flipping over rocks. Given their name, it seems obvious that they should do this, but it was the first time I had ever noticed it. They would stick their beak under a rock and flip it over, which resulted in the sound I had heard. Today I saw a turnstone hit the water shortly after take off. I was impressed to see it float for only a moment, then take off directly out of the water. I guess it makes sense that a bird which spends so much time near the water should not have too much trouble with being in it, but I had never seen one do this before.

Other Notes: There were a couple of late blooming cleavers, and some upstart mustards in bloom. I also saw a plant I did not recognize growing in the upper intertidal cobbles a couple of different places. Perhaps there is enough season left for it to bloom. In any case, it’s probably some weedy species, possibly introduced.

Yesterday I noticed the waves seemed to have a reddish tint to them. At first I thought it might have been from tannins washed down the river during recent rains, but when I went by the river yesterday, the water was not brown. I noticed the same thing today and realized the coloring only extended a short distance offshore (probably less than 10 feet). I decided it was coloration from the stacked up seaweed that has started to decompose. I am not sure whether the coloration is due to small particles, or if the color is actually leaching out and staining the water.

Connor and Rowan had fun making use of a washed up stump and the extended root structure to climb on and hold on to while sticking their feet in the waters of the high tide.

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