I meandered my way down the refuge road, and bumped into Tom again. I met Tom on Monday-- he's an experienced, knowledgeable birder who is lucky enough to live just 10 minutes from the refuge. At the North Pool Overlook he helped me finally see an Eastern Meadowlark, a bird I've been anxious to see for months. Without Tom picking out the Meadowlark's song for me and pointing it out, I doubt very much that I would have seen it at all that day. Then we were pleased to see both a male Green-winged Teal and a male Blue-winged Teal in the pool. Both gave us good looks as they cruised by.
By then it was about quarter to 7, and I had to swing by the Visitor Center to see if the Birders who Blog, Tweet, and Chirp (BwBTC) were meeting there: I wasn't sure if the meeting time was at 7 or 8 am. I pulled in to the parking lot with another car, and not 10 seconds after I had parked, saw the other car's driver pull over, get out, examine a wheel, and exclaim his frustration. As it turned out, the driver was one of the BwBTC group-Andy. He had hit the curb and gotten a flat. Since Andy had purposefully given himself extra time in case of traffic, getting lost, etc. I sort of thought things would still work out okay. Unfortunately, Andy didn't end up coming along with us to Parker River.
The meeting time was at 8 am, but around 7:40 or so folks started pulling in. Introductions were made, and I tried to remember at least a few names--a feat even more difficult for me than trying to photograph terns in flight without sufficient light. Luckily, Dawn had brought name tags. She even made buttons for us all for the event! Thanks, Dawn! :-)
I felt a little silly since Christopher's Blog was the only one I was actually familiar with, but now I've added several more birding blogs to the list of ones I follow! It was really nice to get to know some New England birders, since before now I've only gotten to know birders in New York around the Finger Lakes.
We figured out carpools and set off. First was Lot 1 to see the Purple Martins around their nest boxes and to try our luck seeing a Manx Shearwater or a Roseate Tern out over the ocean. No such luck. Christopher chatted with Plover Warden Janet and we decided to head straight for Sandy Point since it was Kids Go Fish! Day and the parking lots were sure to fill up quickly. Unfortunately, we weren't quite fast enough (kept getting distracted by those pesky things with feathers along the way), and there wasn't room for our little caravan when we arrived. We turned around and headed for the Hellcat Trails.
On the Marsh Loop we looked for the Virginia Rail, which wound up being a no-show, although we did hear a few calls from time to time. There were a few pairs of Gadwall and a few Marsh Wrens in the area, however.
Next we hung out near the Hellcat observation tower for a little bit while Chris went to meet Janet at the end of her shift. Then we would all reunite for a group photo. While there we enjoyed watching the industrious muskrats swim back and forth with cattails to use as construction supplies. Then we caught a brief look at a Least Bittern as it flew in front of our group. At this point I was starting to feel those 3 hours of sleep, and was more or less in autopilot mode. After the group picture I needed to head home to get ready for work.
Despite not getting to Sandy Point and the Virginia Rail being a no-show it really was a fantastic day of birding and socializing! I'm so glad Christopher invited me along and that I had the chance to meet so many other birders who, well, blog, tweet, and chirp! Now I just need to start using Twitter.....although I hear it's addicting!
Here's the list of everyone who attended the BwBTC event on Saturday:
Dawn & Jeff from Dawn's Bloggy Blog
Bev from Behind the Bins
John from Birding Maine
Sharon from A New England Life
Catie from Birding Girl
Janet from The Plover Warden Diaries
Steve from Shooting My Universe
Lauren (Lowie) from Worn Field Guide Blog
Laura from The Interstitial Spaces
Mark from Strack16 Blog
Dan from Nature Observances by Forestal
Yesterday I ventured out to Newmarket, NH to see the Mississippi Kite that is nesting there. The BwBTC group went out to see it after Plum Island, but I couldn't follow since I had work that evening. First I had a doctor's appointment in Newton, so believe it or not, I voluntarily used my dad's GPS. The world may be coming to an end, just FYI.
I haven't mentioned it before because I've never had a reason to, but I really don't trust technology too much. Yes, I'm blogging right now and using the internet, I do use technology to some extent. It's when machines start talking to me that I freak out (I've seen 2001 wayyyy too many times). So yea....give me a good old paper map over a GPS any day.....except, apparently, yesterday. *shrug*
ANYWAY: the folks in Newmarket I spoke with were all very friendly and helpful. I bumped into a couple of other birders who were there to see the Kite as well, and was treated to a peek through a scope at the bird sitting on its nest. I love when other birders let me peek through their scopes, it is much appreciated!! Several residents driving, biking, jogging, and walking by us inquired "Are the birds back again?!" upon seeing the three of us standing there with bins. This is the second year the Kite's been in Newmarket, and last year it was BIG news, understandably. I hung around for about an hour hoping to see the parents switch places sitting on the nest, hoping to see a Kite in flight, but no such luck.
Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.