Friday, June 8, 2012

Hits and Misses

Johnny is the family member who listens to the news and reads newspapers. He's out of town. Hence I didn't know about the transit of Venus until it was happening. I was at the coast, monitoring Black Oystercatchers most of the day. When I came home and checked the computer for weather forecasts, I learned that ingress had started. Happily, the weather site I go to on the computer had live coverage of the event of a lifetime, so I watched Venus, off and on, all the way across the sun. Not as exciting as watching it myself but all I could have viewed it with was my binoculars reflecting on a piece of paper so maybe not so different.

The Black Oystercatcher monitoring was exhausting but I managed to see one of them fly into Haystack Rock, which sits a mile off the shore line of Cape Kiwanda. It moved out of sight in an area not far from where BLOY have nested in the past. So at least I know where to look after this, although it is impossibly far away as can be seen in the photo below. Even zoomed in as far as I can zoom my scope, the gulls appear pretty small and Oystercatchers are smaller yet. I did not catch the BLOY in my camera before it disappeared behind a rock wall. It had been directly below the flying gull in the photo below right.

In an area on the cape itself where waves rush into a cave, I only occasionally see gulls or Oystercatchers feeding at low tide. Nothing is around at high tide... except on this day when there must have been a school of fish being beat against the rocks at the mouth of the cave because cormorants and gulls by the score and even a few pelicans were waiting in the area. I wished my retired marine biologist friend who accompanied me last week was there to witness the spectacle. In all the years I've been going to Cape Kiwanda, I've never seen this happen before. Click on the photo left to see the rocks lined with birds.

My time line in this blog is backwards as I started the day (well, after chores at home) at Road's End, where I witnessed incubation exchanges at two of the three nests. Not easy to do since the nests are out of sight. Here is a photo of a bird that just came to take its place on the nest, which is farther to the right, behind the rock that the gull is nesting on. To show just how far away I am from the nest rock, I took a non-zoomed-in photo of it. Closer than Haystack Rock at Cape Kiwanda, but still a challenge to monitor.

The second nest is on another rock that I call Big Double Rock. This time my camera caught only the head of a bird that had just stood and walked left from the nest site.

The third nest is on a rock much farther to the north from my viewpoint atop The Thumb. Try as I might, I could not find a Black Oystercatcher anywhere on the rock, much less near the nest I had located two weeks ago. It could easily have been hidden behind rocks but I should have seen the partner on guard duty somewhere or come in for an incubation exchange. However, they change places so quickly I might have been watching the other nests when that happened. Next week, I'll try again.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, I've been working in the garden as weather allows, the greenhouse when it doesn't, and checking the trail cameras occasionally. The swamp camera took this nice portrait of a deer... and the back of a mystery animal. Anyone have an idea what this could be?

The lake pasture swamp had videos of leaping fawns, racing deer, sneaking coyotes, and the buck whose antlers are growing. I took a couple still captures off the videos.

And all week, like other horse enthusiasts, I looked forward to the running of the Belmont Stakes tomorrow and the strong possibility of having the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. Then came the news this morning that I'll Have Another, winner of the first two legs, would not run in the Belmont tomorrow. He has tendonitis in a front leg and would risk permanent injury if he ran.

And so the elusive Triple Crown will have to wait... although maybe not for as long as we'll have to wait for another transit of Venus across the sun. That won't happen until 2117.

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