Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 23: Spring Explodes

Back in the wet after a week-long vacation. The first order of business was to re-install the "enticement sticks" on the osprey platform. This time with wind-defying twine. A bit later one osprey made a fly-by. Hopefully he/she will return to finish the installation and lay claim.

The incoming tide swept through with a force I'd not yet witnessed at the marsh. Here are both sides of the mouth at peak tide.

Killifish swirled by thousands at the mouth before streaming into the marsh.

They are striped killifish, Fundulus majalis. The males are striped vertically and the females horizontally.

I found it curious that some had bright yellow tails. They appeared to be larger, and were only seen during the later part of the day.

About an hour before high tide the horseshoe crabs began trickling in.

I found three mating pairs. The smaller males piggybacked on the hulking females around the marsh before landing in some secluded spot, usually beneath logs or floating debris.

At least one pair made it all the way to the culvert. Numerous lines in the sand betrayed their circuitous paths. I watched one lonely male do pirouettes for several minutes before beelining for my boot. If he was looking for love he did not find it there.

The only other arthropod observed was the invasive Cancer beenybabis. Marsh castaways no longer surprise me but this was just too perfect.

The birds were also present in abundance. A pair of black bellied plovers Pluvialis squatarola lingered on the beach side.

And our resident green heron Butorides virescens hung around the marsh banks throughout the day.

Two pairs of willet, Tringa semipalmata, have also made Rocky Point their home.

Unlike the aforementioned birds they actually tolerated my presence. They meandered throughout the marsh but seemed to favor the heavy spartina patches nearest the mouth. I could have tracked their comings and goings all day. Anyone watching might have mistaken me for - I wince - a birder. But between stalking jaunts I did manage to do a little work.

High of 68, average wind SE @ 8 MPH, 5.6 high tide @ 04:06 PM. Moon 61% visible.
Water level recorded at 18 inch mark.
Three mating horseshoe crabs observed.
Birds seen in marsh: mallard, starling, red winged blackbird, grackle, yellow warbler, willet, sanderling, green heron, osprey, common tern
Birds seen in bay: black brant, Canadian geese, oystercatcher, semipalmated plover


  1. Great blog post Shervin...enjoyed coming by to see you guys the other day...Im gonna come some day and help you muck out the slog! Take care! Lisa

  2. Thank you for all of the work you are doing at the marsh. My friend Cindy and I had a great day of birding after we spoke with you-we saw the green heron as well as an egret, loon, black-bellied plovers,ruddy-turnstone, spotted sandpipers, terns, mergansers, oystercatchers, brants,red-winged black birds and a few more I can't remember. And I put a lot of horse-shoe crabs back in the water. Thanks again and keep up the good work.