Brother- in- law George Graham has been getting more and more involved in observing, counting, and studying marine birds and fish off the coast of Massachusetts, so far as a volunteer. He sent this report and these excellent photos, as migration stretces its lines down the coasts. My only caveat is that George will have to tell you what his acronyms mean.Take it, George!
“I finally made it on one of the last excursions of the year on the R/V Auk 25 miles out to the SBNMS with the crew from NOAA. We had a fantastic day this past Monday, calm seas, low wind and temps about 60. Pretty good score for an October day off Massachusetts Bay. The primary objective was gathering data on seabirds following a predetermined course of over 100 miles, secondary were mammal and debris observations. We counted over 1800 birds in about 17 species. A great experience. Now that I’m a trained recorder, I’m looking forward to riding the whale watches next spring as a Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Steward (S4 project).
“I was the test dummy for the safety brief, see gumby suit. Group shot of the S4 volunteers. The gent on the left is Wayne Petersen, Mass Audubon’s Director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Areas (IBA) program. He was a great source of knowledge and a pleasure to work with.”
Steve again. Scoters and eiders; more than a bit of nostalgia there. The two opposing poles, the yin and the yang of Yankee bird hunting, are the slow- moving, rather comfortable ramble with a pretty setter through the transformed glory of a New England autumn, with grouse and woodcock as quarry, and eating such noble quarry cooked by traditional, classical recipes… I mean, the French cook such birds right.
And then there are sea ducks– shot from small boats, often on dark days off dangerous coasts, with an east wind blowing sleet and freezing rain at you midst turbulence and discomfort and the smell of salt air and wet dog. A Chessie might beat a Lab, and a ten bore might be the best choice in a gun. To cook them well you had best know some old swamp Yankee secrets or you’d do better to eat the legendary board you were supposed to nail them to.
You might be surprised which I remember best.