|View from Hellcat dike, Plum Island, Newburyport, MA|
Second day of spring break. Ah, perhaps today I can get some scholarly work done.
The doorbell rings.
--Hi. We're going to be landscaping your neighbor's yard today. I just wanted to let you know that we'll fix any damage we do to your lawn.
I hear the roar of a bobcat as it grinds up the hill right outside my office window. A day full of construction noise to look forward to or... That's it. I'm gone. (Was I just looking for an excuse?)
I chose Plum Island because it is an effortless script for me now and I hadn't been there since November. I planned to hit Sandy Point first (horned lark opportunities) and then work my way backward to Hellcat.
As I drove down Plum Island Turnpike I noticed that there was still a lot of ice on the water. Uh oh. When I got to the gate I realized my plan was dead. ALL BEACHES CLOSED. There was a major sewage treatment plant malfunction recently and millions of little e. coli coated discs have washed up on the beaches all over the North Shore. The boardwalks to the beaches were roped off (even the observation decks) and the dirt road to Sandy Point gated.
|Here's the closest I would get to seeing the ocean today.|
(Yes, though I'll spare you the actual images.) Record especially fabulous song sparrow tunes? (Yes, though the recordings have too much wind noise.)
As I slowly made my way along the Marsh Trail, I realized that the restrictions today were a blessing in disguise. Instead of furiously moving from place to place on Plum Island, trying to cover it all, here was a chance to hang at Hellcat--for as long as I wanted.
I could spend some quality time with the red-winged blackbirds.
I could offer my farewells to the tree sparrows.
I could sit at the "old blind" and watch the distant ducks circle and land, circle and land.
It was so quiet today (most visitors had turned around and left when they discovered the beaches were closed) that I felt I could hear every leaf rustle. That's how I spied my first woodcock of the season (I forget how small they are). And that's how I discovered the twittering redpolls, a few dozen of them. The highlight of the day.
Below is the video version of the day, featuring red-wing blackbirds, redpolls, pintails in flight, and circling black ducks.