Monday, May 10, 2010

No Beaks, No Wings, No Birdy Feet

Saturday, May 8. Beach survey in glorious weather. No beaks, no wings, no birdy feet. JL from COASST says none of the volunteers are finding beached birds; still, I worry that I'm missing them, and wherever I see loose feathers I look even more carefully. No little corpses, buried or not.

There remains a lot of trash on the beach. I make a strategic error and start filling a trash bag on the outbound leg, toting it up and down the beach face clanking as I go and worrying that something will cut the bag (or my best jeans)... By the turnaround point it's as heavy as I want to carry, I have to tote it all the way back, and I haven't kept track of what I should be recording on the marine debris sheet. The wrack line contains a lot of small small plastic pieces, and there are a number of intact glass bottles. As long as the lids are stuck on so that they will float, apparently glass bottles are happy to bob around in the ocean indefinitely and perhaps wash up intact on one side of the ocean or the other. Why isn't every one of them broken and settled to the bottom of the sea?

Wind from the southwest, colors like the tropics (Click for larger image.)

It was shirt-sleeve weather. There were a couple of shorebirds whom I startled away before noticing them; we don't see very many on Rialto Beach, and I wish I know who they were. An eagle flying low, another in a tree.

No beached birds to record in either beach segment. A couple of dead skates in the surf line, and a sea star. The wind swung around so it was coming from the northwest, and blew stronger. It was colder, the air was less clear, clouds toward the horizon. Still the sun shone. The days are long, and surveys don't take much time if there are no dead birds to identify, measure, photograph. I recorded the finish time in my notebook, and went back to the car to change packs and put on walk-in-the-water shoes.

Rialto Beach, looking north (Click for larger image.)

I try to pay attention to how the beach profile changes, and to watch if time continues to size-sort the stones delivered to the beach this spring when they dredged the mouth of the Quillayute River. But it's as much about personal greed as it is about understanding. Found the right patch of small flat stones, and happily dropped myself on it; hands sifting, gathering; pockets filling.

Some Pebbles in Sun (Click for larger image.)

JL told me that earlier this month when she and MS surveyed Hobuck Beach there was a lot of trash. MS is the boss scientist, and very formal, always does a Marine Debris form starting from exactly the same point each time. MS picked up, JL recorded on the clipboard. More than 30 plastic bottles in the relatively short stretch of beach they survey for debris. But also, JL found a large green glass fishing float. OMG, I am drenched with envy.

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