I’ve no idea how far I walked in the fog today, but long enough that by the time I was back at the parking lot my hair fell wet in ringlets, sticky with salt. The fog had obliterated any landmarks along the beach and it was only my vague sense that hours had passed that caused me to turn back. This was no sunny, invigorating winter beach; it felt neither wide nor expansive. There was no winking promise of spring in the air, either. White-bellied gulls appeared out of the nothingness ahead and the only sound was that of the waves churning the sand.
The edges of things: the shoreline and the horizon were all so soft with the fog that my camera mostly refused to focus. It was pleasant to imagine nothing beyond the couple hundred feet I was able to see ahead of me. Out of the salty haze I finally spotted what I’d come looking for; back for a week or two, a lone piping plover fed along the wrack line at the very limits of my imagination. The harder I tried to see it, the faster it ran and blended into nothingness.
A couple hundred steps ahead and I’d spot it again for an instant, this time running crosswise to me in the dry sand, blending into a driftwood and clam shell background. In and out of my awareness, I think it must have accompanied me quite far, just out of clear view, a bit of fog drifted sand on still winter-black legs. These birds are hard to spot on a clear day even when they’re running; their markings blend so expertly with drift sticks and sand. I like to meet them for the year on this type of day, for whatever reason, when the hot sun and crowds of a June day seem an impossibility.
Amount of line 72 you want refunded to you.
Are they kidding???
Nevermind… I don’t want that money back. You just keep it.
Anything about this yearly ritual that makes you howl with laughter?
“It is a most beautiful spectacle although often difficult for us to observe. After catching a fish, the male gains height as he returns to the nesting area and while still several kilometres away he starts his display. To me the display call is very distinctive; it’s a high-pitched ‘pee-pee-pee-pee…pee’ and if I search the skies I will see him soaring majestically, maybe a thousand feet above, as he moves in sweeping circles closer and closer to the nesting site. He climbs several hundred feet upwards with rapidly beating wings, then hovering briefly, with fanned tail, he performs a breathtaking dive showing the fish grasped in outstretched talons. He pulls out of the dive and powers sky-wards to repeat the performance. All the time his calling can be heard by his mate and finally his last stoop takes him in a long power dive right to the eyrie, where the fish is presented to his mate.”
(Ospreys, by Roy Dennis, Colin Baxter Photography Ltd, 1991, p13)
There’s no sweeter sound in late March than an amorous Osprey, save perhaps, the lonely peeplo calls of Piping Plovers. To those of us who love the shore and its birds and who miss them for the months of their absence, both are enough to bring tears to our eyes.
There was a bit of female rivalry taking place at this northernmost nest on Sandy Hook yesterday. A female interloper repeatedly interrupted the male’s courtship flight… whether to steal the fish he meant to present to his mate below or perhaps to steal him away from her.
Click on the pic for a slightly more satisying view. Can anyone name the channel marker thingy for me?
Hm. In the last week at work, I’ve been told the following:
“That is none of your business and you really need to learn your place.”
“I feel really sorry for you that you hate being a social worker so much that you have to be so rude. You should find a new profession. In fact, I’ll suggest that to your supervisor, too.”
“Your caseload must be really high that it takes you a whole day to return my phone call. Maybe you need an assistant.”
That last one, finally, hits the truth.
I do need an assistant to return ridiculous phone calls for me, soothe the nerves of needy clients and do all the godforsaken paperwork that justifies my seat at this desk. All that crap handled by someone else and out of my way, I’ll have plenty of time to:
Tell them only what they want to hear
Do all the stuff they seem to think is my responsibility, rather than doing a thing for themselves.
I’ve been at this far too long to be as surprised as I am by the hostility flung my way on a daily basis. I guess I’m just surprised that I’m surprised anymore.
Is it Friday yet?
Every once in a while I make an excuse to visit the octopus lady that’s down in the old Casino on the boardwalk in Asbury Park; yesterday afternoon I went over with the intention of photographing some of the other public art that’s on display while the building is being revamped, but my lens was drawn to her, again.
There’s something about this mural that feels very out of place there and yet very right for being surrounded by a building that’s falling apart all around her. It amuses me to watch the contrast of yuppy joggers and local bums strolling beneath her coquettish glance, seemingly unaware of the change to the city she might portend.
Some more pics from the Casino are in this post.
I met MevetS (fellow NJ Audubon volunteer) and his photography group this morning at Barnegat Light. Aside from some equipment envy on my part, it didn’t feel much different than any other bird walk.
Not much difference, huh?
Other than the lighthouse, the main draw at Barnegat Light is the sea ducks. The problem is the birds like to hang out way at the end of this jetty along the inlet. Scary stuff! If you haven’t already seen the link at Patrick’s blog, have a look at this story of a local birder who recently fell and was trapped out there in his quest for pics of the eiders that frequent the inlet.
Most people walk the jetty like it’s nothing, but I’m normally a trembling mess. I was ready to refuse outright today and walk along the sand, but went ahead anyway and found it okay. Maybe cause the rocks were dry and it wasn’t freezing cold. The birds make the walk worth it… nestled among the rocks are pretty harlequins and the inlet offered close looks at common loons in breeding plumage and courting oldsquaw.
Way out at the very tip, the jetty boulders were squirming with purple sandpipers… little dark birds that I like nearly as much as sanderlings.
Have a look at Steve’s pics from today… wow. (Camera envy.)