It is the day before Mother’s Day and, after days of gray skies and cool temperatures the sun has finally emerged! The warm weather is enticing both of us outside, so Gus and I jump in the car late in the afternoon and head for Revere Beach. Revere Beach is on the coast of Massachusetts just a little north of Boston. Gus discovered this location when we first moved here in September of 2010. He arrived before me and and he found this spot while looking for a place for us to live. In the autumn the beach was mostly deserted and he found it a pleasant place to walk. Since then we have been here to walk three or four times, but always in the autumn or winter.
We came here in February of this year during the Great Backyard Bird Count. Back then I saw over 500 gulls gathered on this beach. Today there are only around 50 gulls, and most of them are immature.
Gus parks at the south end of the beach and we both start out walking north on the sidewalk. After we pass the restroom and are near one of the pavilions I head for the shoreline while Gus keeps walking north. Today there are many more people on the beach and the sidewalks. There are people everywhere and it is not quite the peaceful situation we have experienced in the past. And, though the air temperature is warm at 84F, the water temperature is a chilly 48F! In spite of this, I see children in the water!
I turn south and walk along the shore with the waves crashing to my left. Gulls walk in the sand in front of me hoping for a handout. I take my flip-flops off and tie them around my waist with the arms of the long-sleeved shirt I no longer need. I feel the cool sand beneath my feet. When I get to a rocky area, I put them back on again. My feet are too tender yet to walk across these rocks!
Out beyond the waves I see some black ocean ducks bobbing. Scoters! I think to myself. I count over 40 of them as I try to decide which species they are. I can see the multi-colored beaks of the Surf Scoters as well as the white wing and eye patches of the White-winged scoters. I don’t see see any black scoters but some of them are just too far out for a positive I.D. It is while I am walking along in my own little world and thinking about all the birds I am seeing that I see something else.
I notice these flying birds swooping low over the water, then rising up again. They are dark above and white below with the white coming up behind their eyes on the sides and behind their wings near their rumps. Their wings are long and pointed and I have no idea what they are, so I take several pictures and watch in amazement as they land in the water, then take wing again.
At first I am only seeing one or two, but then a group of five gathers together and lands in the cove near the south end of the beach. My mind is racing to try to figure this out, but I cannot even bring a word to my brain. What is their name! what are they called! What bird family group are they in! I am frustrated and excited all at once. I know that I am seeing a Life Bird if I can only figure out what they are!
I am now back at the south end of the beach where Gus is waiting for me. It has taken me an hour to travel 4/10ths of a mile while Gus has walked three! We get in the car and start to drive north through the crowds of people lining the streets. Once we are past the Pink Apartments the crowds start to thin out. I am still scanning the shore as Gus drives when I see more birds! “Stop the car,” I ask Gus excitedly! He smiles and pulls over for me and I jump out.
I turn and walk slowly north. I know that endangered piping plovers nest here. I have read about them before and the area is well posted with signs. I do not want to disturb the birds, I only want to positively identify them.
With my 70-300 mm zoom extended as far as it can go I finally locate the little bird. It is indeed a piping plover! However, it continues to walk away from me, so I do not follow. I do not want to stress these birds!
The sun is now casting long blue shadows as we get in our car and head home. On the way I use my smart phone to put out a plea on Facebook for help in identifying the mystery bird. With a little help from my birding friends I discover it is a Manx Shearwater! I am so excited. This is another Life Bird for me!
On our drive home Gus and I discuss dinner plans. We decide to make our homemade pizza, so he drops me off at the apartment so I can start the dough while he goes to the store to pick up the cheese. I am up to my elbows in flour when he walks into the kitchen with a bouquet of red roses! Oh, and they smell so-o-o-o good! Gus bought me 2 dozen red roses 35 years ago on the day when we went to pick up out my engagement ring and our wedding rings, so these flowers have added significance for me. With Mother's Day being tomorrow, I feel like I have already had the perfect day!
Click on the link to read the full story of the Manx Shearwater at Revere Beach
Note: By the time this story posts Gus and I will be returning from a 5 day trip to New York City again! We are going there to find migrating birds and to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary which happens in about 2 weeks from now! And you KNOW I will have more stories to tell!