Monday, September 6, 2010

Sterling Peat-the Gift that Keeps on Giving!-& Other Ramblings

I would get an email alert from Alan late yesterday afternoon letting people know that Sterling Peat had yet again another flock of really good shorebirds fly in on Saturday night and many birders were lucky enough to see a flock of 5 Stilt Sandpipers on Sunday that were not the least bit shy.
I of course was gone all day and was at my first trail running race which was the Wapack Trail race.

This race is"an out-and-back that follows the Wapack Trail between New Ipswich, NH and Ashburnham, MA. There are four major mountains in between: Barrett, New Ipswich, Pratt, and Watatic, from north to south. Total climb is said to be about 3,700 feet" and is approx 18 miles.

Now don't worry all, I didn't run the race YET, but this is my goal race for next year as well as Pack Monadnock so I decided to head to this one just to get a feel for the race and what the course was like on the other half of the Wapack I had yet to run.

There were quite a few runners, brave enough to run the race and let me tell you, the Wapack is very tough to run. When I had done Watatic to Pratt and back, I couldn't believe how beat up I felt after I was done. In fact, I had a hard time getting out of my car when I got home from my adventure and I would find out yesterday that the climb from Binney Pond to the Pratt summit was the steepest part of the race and even worse if you run it (which I tried a couple of weeks ago). I remember beating myself up over the tight legs as surely it wasn't that hard, but hearing this did make me feel a little better. It was great seeing them all come back and finishing the course. Many are in such good shape they didn't look at all tired after such a grueling endeavor, and quite a few would come back with battle wounds (like the picture above) as its rather common to take a couple of spills here and there and scrapes and bruises are treated like trophies to show just how tough you are. Seeing all of this with my own two eyes makes me look forward to it even more next year as there was no way I could run 18 miles of mountains right now and am happy with my meesly 8-9 I am getting in and that's with some hiking here and there.
Anyhow, I would be disappointed that I got home too late (and was far too tired) to head out to Sterling Peat to try for the Stilt Sandpipers but woke up fairly early this morning with my sole attempt to get out to SP before errands. I would be sipping my morning coffee when suddenly I could hear sirens far away and there would be quite a few of them. Moments later they would all be stopped in front of my house so of course I look out my window and there is smoke everywhere. There would be a fire at one of the factories across from me and streets would be blocked off as fire fighters went to battle the blaze. This of course would knock me off course for a while until the fire was out so despite the delay, I was confident the sandpipers would still be around!
Least Sandpipers from early this morning but not Stilt Sandpipers of course!

I would get there and see Bruce and ask him if he'd seen them and he would tell me that they were there earlier but a Merlin had come in and spooked them away. Doh! We would hang around for a while in hopes of a return, but that would never come so off I went to do my dreaded grocery shopping and then the gym. Get to the gym just as everyone is leaving mass exodus and realize it closed at noon so I would be s*it out of luck again. Hmmmmmm....Not my day I see, I think to myself. Oh well, I needed a rest day anyhow I think and head home contemplating a nap but decide to check email and once again Alan sends out another email to folks saying that the Stilt Sandpipers AND the Merlin were re spotted at 11:00AM. Grrrrrrrrr.... Of course I get back in my car and head to Sterling while praying they decided to stick around, but with the way my day was going, I wasn't holding out much hope.
But sure enough there would be quite a few birders (including Gary, Anne and Bruce) on a small flock of birds and there before our eyes were the 5 Stilt Sandpipers who were not at all shy by our presence.

The Great Egrets would be there as well and astonishingly enough there are 8 of them. I am guessing a new record for Sterling Peat which is pretty cool as I have only seen those kind of numbers at Plum Island, but heck, who needs Plum Island now where there is good ole Sterling Peat (a Snowy Egret would be an added bonus of course)
Anyhow, back to the stars of the day which would be the Stilt Sandpipers.
The were very interesting to observe as they generally stuck to themselves and when one would flee, all would follow which was interesting. The other highlight would be two Buff-breasted Sandpipers today which was nice as one can never tire of looking at those. No Merlin though which would have been nice as I still don't have one this year, but hoping I can pick one up hawkwatching next week.
Great birds to get today and another lifer. Sterling Peat has been very kind to me this year as far as lifers are concerned and is definitely the gift that keeps on giving as every week there are more goodies. I can see 2010 being the year we birders all reminisce about when we are out birding and things are slow so we swap bird stories to keep our sanity while scanning the grounds. We will remember the water levels, the Great Egrets and of course some very special shorebirds who decided to give us a break this year.

Take care all.


Jen said...

Wow what a perfect day of birding! Congrats on the lifer!

Larry said...

Some nice birds. I was surprised to see a pic of a fire...brings me back to my 'real' job!


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