Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Job: Ian Surveys Birds on a Whale Watching Boat.

Ian posts his nearly daily bird information on the list serve he started at Plymouth Birds.
The major MA site for all bird sightings is

Here's what he posted about his new intern job this summer.
This summer I am working for NECWA (New England Coastal Wildlife 
Alliance), in partnership with Captain John Boats and Bridgewater 
State College, doing pelagic bird surveys of Stellwagen Bank based off 
of the Captain John Boat whalewatches from Plymouth. Today was the 
third time that I've been out, and by far the birdiest of the three.
Almost all of the activity was right off of Race Point, most of it 
probably scope-able on a day with good visibility. The highlight of 
the day was pulling three Cory's Shearwaters out of all the Greaters, 
with one bird on the water with a flock of 24 Greaters, and the two 
others in the water and then flying in the mayhem of ~2000 
shearwaters. This morning most of the trip had been pretty slow on the 
way out, and as we headed for the Race, bypassing the SW corner of 
Stellwagen, that decision really made the day. We had 30-40 humpbacks 
feeding actively, including almost every surface behavior: lobtailing, 
kick feeding, bubble cloud and bubble net feeding, tail and full head 
breaches, open mouth feeding, you name it! Besides the wonderful 
cetacean show there were around two thousand shearwaters in the area, 
a number that I came to after averaging multiple counts, counted by 
20s. Also around were tons of storm-petrels, and a few jaegers, making 
this about as good as it gets. Manx Shearwaters were conspicuously 
absent, as they were on Wednesday. Another interesting thing about 
today was the number of tubenoses in Plymouth County on the way back, 
far more than the other couple times, and more than any other trip 
I've taken out of Plymouth Harbor, including storm-petrels and Sooty 
Shearwaters easily visible from Duxbury Beach!
Full lists from today are at the Plymouth Birds web site above, and pictures, including Cory's, can 

Photos of birds and whale are by Ian.
Greater Shearwater.

Greater Shearwater. Wingtip is JUST touching the water.

Breaching Humpback whale.

The boat Ian goes on to do his bird surveys.

The main dock where I drop off and pick up Ian.

View of Plymouth harbor and docks.

The ticket booth for Captain John Boat whale watching tours. Ian says a secret word that gets him a free ticket:-)

When I'm waiting to pick him up I hang out with my camera ready. This is a popular spot for motorcycles.

Ian after a hard day's work.

I just shot this because of the joy in it, turns out it's one of the boat captains and a crew member.

Greater Shearwater landing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Bird Banding Bunch

Ian and I are living in Manomet, Plymouth a lovely town one hour south of Boston on the Atlantic Ocean. Ian has been banding birds for Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences ('Manomet' for short) since April 15th with Evan and Jess. The 3 of them have become fast friends and hang out together at work, live together, eat together and play together.  I'm very happy Ian's able to be part of such a great bunch of banders!  They get along so well, work hard and go birding, to the movies and out for meals on their off hours: rainy days and weekends.

Spring banding ends June 15th, but happily they have all 3 decided to come back for Fall banding on August 15th.

Jess, Ian and Evan at New Tokyo. Anytime it rains or the nets are closed on a Monday or Tuesday we come here for dinner. Excellent sweet potato rolls! This is the one activity I'm included in when they go out :-)

Jess enjoying her sushi.

Trevor, the boss of banding.

The Trustees luncheon honoring the founders of Manomet 40 years ago was held on a sunny day in June. Evan worked the meetings, I was the volunteer photographer and over 100 people arrived to celebrate and discuss conservation issues.

Tony bringing in the 40th birthday cake.




Jess and Ian in synchronized walking heading back to the banding room.

The second bander ever with Trevor.

Red-eyed Vireo.

Ted, one of the first people we said it was OK to go with on an overnight birding excursion when Ian was much younger and a foot shorter. 

Charles, the first bander and Betty Anderson, the founder of Manomet back in 1969 while raising a family. Great story, amazing woman! She took Ian birding when he first started out 6 years ago.

Luis from Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.

One of Ian's admirers.

Luis was a visiting guest of Manomet, he bands birds in Tierra Del Fuego and had never been to the States before. He was very charming and did well with limited English.

Walking to Holmes Farm which Manomet owns next door.

Meridith invited me to an impromtu dinner, after the big day of luncheon and photographing, at the Holmes Farm. She was entertaining Luis and wanted another Spanish speaker around and I was very happy to oblige. The banders also were invited along with Bob, a scientist from Maine. 

Luis enjoyed himself thoroughly and was so interested in everything, lots of fun. 

Dashing outside to see the Night Hawks.

We see Night Hawks.


We ate take out Thai food, a first for Luis, and had a good time translating a fortune cookie. Kind words will give you a warm heart??

Evan, Luis and Meridith.

Luis wanted us all to pose for his camera. Bob from Maine on the right. 
A very fun evening!

Luis just sent me this photo along with a lovely email thanking all of us the warm reception and attention he received from us. I love the last line: a hug from afar. 

Hola a mis nuevos AMIGOS .
Espero que todos ustedes se encuentren muy bien.
Arribe a mi pais el jueves 11 de junio muy casado despues de 17 horas de vuelo entre un avion y otro, pero lo más lindo fue el reencuentro con mi familia que en realidad extrañaba bastante ya que fue la primera vez que me alejaba por tanto tiempo.
Quiero agradecer, a cada uno de ustedes por el recibimiento y atención que me han brindado durante mi estadia por allá, lo cual espero brindar cuando se lleguen por Tierra del Fuego.
Un abrazo en la distancia.
Luis G. Benegas

Awesome Bunch of Banders.

Evan and Jess after dinner at our house on another night.  I try and have them over when it's raining and it's not Monday or Tuesday...
I'm testing out long exposures here, 5 seconds, and like the effect.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book Group Sleepover

Every year at the beginning of June for the past 6 or 7? years our book group has had a sleepover at my family's cottage in Manomet. The first one was centered around the book Chocolat and we ate many chocolate inspired foods. Sometimes we have a book and theme, sometimes we just wing it, but it's always a lot of fun and as Michele said "As our lives take us in so many different directions, it's comforting to know we have our little rituals to hold us together!" We all homeschooled our children together over the past 13 years, they are now fledging and changes are many, but the sleepover and our friendship remain a priority.

The cottage, site of sleepover for grown women.

White Horse Beach. After everyone arrives and settles in we walk to the beach.

Horse Shoe Crab.

Priscilla, Michele, Julia and Christina. Mary couldn't make it this year :-(

Julia and Christina...

....sharing a laugh.

Gulls. Never say Sea Gulls if you're around a birder.


Julia, Michele and Priscilla with something on her foot??

Women of a certain age getting ready to jump.

Michele off the ground!

We're all nearly off the ground!

OK, we're all airborne! Not very glamorous but we are having way too much fun!

Walking back to the cottage.

Lots of great food, these are humus rollups Julia brought.

Beans and sun-dried tomatoes Priscilla brought.


Michele. I made potato pasties.


A late lunch on the deck before everyone leaves for home.