this morning bruce and i planned on going to crane beach on this gorgeous summer day. i went to the corner diner for the very first time to get some takeout lunch to bring with me. haven't not set foot in the space since they renovated, i really like the new extended layout, including the easy-access public bathroom and full-view kitchen. there were a number of customers enjoying breakfast, a table of hipsters, a table with two women, a table with a trio of construction workers, and a few folks sitting around the counter. i ordered a ham and cheese wrap. the chef (and probably also owner) threw in some free home fries along with my order. before i was supposed to meet with bruce at 10am, i was finishing the home fries along with a glass of juice.
it took us about an hour's drive to get to crane beach in ipswich. crane beach is probably one of the more posh beaches within driving distance from boston. unlike revere beach - which is free - it costs $15 per car to get into crane beach. that's actually cheap: on weekends and holidays the price goes up to $22.
bruce and i first did a short trail that cut through the center of crane beach peninsula. walking on the soft sand was tough business until we managed to get onto the forest path. mosquitoes were abundant in this area and bruce became the designated mosquito magnet as i watched thirsty bloodsuckers swarm onto his naked legs. i swatted as many as i could until my finger tips were covered in blood. i had my jeans on so they didn't seem to bother me much. once we made it out to the sand dunes the mosquitoes left us alone.
almost all the insects we spotted were seen in the sand dunes. we spotted some greenheads but they left us alone. there were plenty of bronzed tiger beetles, the brown cousins of the more vibrant green ones i usually encounter in the forests. we also saw these colorful red ants which weren't ants at all but rather highly venomous velvet "ants" which are actually wingless wasps. out on the beach i took a casual photo of what i thought to be a bronzed tiger beetle but once i saw the photo i realized it might be a different species: hairy necked tiger beetle. they look similar but this one has thicker maculations (patterns) on its shell. the ocean for the most part cleans the beach of debris but we were still able to find the occasional shell or in this case a dried up skate.
around noontime we returned to the parking lot to retrieve our lunches and ate at one of the picnic tables at the visitor center. back at the car i got rid of my jeans (i had swimming trunks underneath) and went barefoot since we wouldn't be doing anymore trail walking. we decided to see how far we could walk down the length of the peninsula along the edge of the beach were the wet sand was more compact and easier to walk.
being at a beach, naturally there were seagulls. since there were so many people there, there were plenty of opportunities for gulls to steal food when people left their stuff to go swimming. for the most part the gulls weren't very interesting but i did spot a bonaparte's gull sitting in the water. these birds breed up in the arctic and now begin their migration south. the plumage we see is their non-breeding feathers, and bonaparte's gulls can be identified by the black spot on the sides of their head (their breeding plumage resemble laughing gulls).
at one point we got to an area that was roped off with signs alerting people not to disturb the shore birds within. we saw a guy with a pair of binoculars who seemed like he worked there and he gave us some info. apparently the section being protected was a staging area for migrating birds such as plovers and sandpipers. since it was high tide, all the birds were gathered together, waiting for the tide to recede. at first we didn't see them but we could definitely hear the chirpings. the first birds we saw were least terns, a species bruce has firsthand knowledge of, having been attacked by one that time we went to the cape. these least terns were no less aggressive: although they didn't harass us, we watched one drive away a much larger seagull into the ocean.
as we got closer, we could see some of the other birds. there were large groups of sanderlings and semipalmated plovers. the bird guy mentioned piping plovers but we didn't see any. we also told us about the electrified fencing, which they turn off during the day but turn back on at nights to prevent animals from eating the birds. there must've been hundreds of not thousands of birds congregating in the area. the sanderlings were less afraid than the plovers, but all of them still speedwalked away when felt we were getting too close.
they all had excellent camouflage, especially the semipalmated plovers. they had a habit of hiding in the beach debris, which make it even harder to see them. later in the afternoon when the tide was receding, they all came out onto the beach to look for food, running back and forth chasing the waves.
at one point a police helicopter flew overhead, scaring all the birds into taking flight. for a brief moment the sky was filled with plovers and sandpipers.
we walked about 2 miles down the length of the beach before we decided to stop and try out the ocean. the water was cold but bearable considering today was in the 80's. after that we headed back, passing through the not-so-secret gay section of the beach (a hairy bear was naked inside his little self-assembling screen house), with the tide receding revealing vast expanses of undulating beachfront.
since we were going against the flow of traffic, we made it back home uneventfully by 5pm. i had some good news waiting for me: one of client checks finally arrived! looks like i'll be able to pay some bills for august.
never seen it happen before, but my upstairs neighbors actually brought out the trash for a change tonight. i watched the red sox game while gnawing on some leftover drumsticks. in the bottom of the 9th inning, sensing a possible loss, i changed the channel to watch damages on FX. during a commercial break i switched back to NESN and discovered the red sox had actually won the game!