Comments a couple months ago on a post I wrote about falconry led me to Rebecca’s blog and most recently to her book, Lift. A memoir, it shares the lessons learned in the practice of training a Peregrine Falcon.

I’m not very far into the book, yet, but expected from reading her blog that I would enjoy it. My impression, just 80-some pages in, is that she writes well and passionately about her falcon. Already she’s spoken to one of the questions I raised in that earlier blog post, on training her falcon to fly to a lure:

The falcon and I look at each other, both startled. Then he bows his head slightly over the bird in his feet, snaps the neck and looks back up. He allows me to meet his gaze, seeing deep into his falcon’s eyes and I understand that I could keep this predator on a line forever, but he will never be my pet. Over that shared look our relationship changes just a bit, because suddenly, we both grasp an obvious truth. I am looking into the eyes of a wild peregrine. It’s so soon, only ten days, but it’s time to let him fly free.

Yes, it is dangerous to be bound to something that can break your heart.

She’s lost her bird once already to the sky and reclaimed him, changed, after only five hours on his own. I’m looking forward to learning how their relationship continues to develop.

Social work puzzlers

Some things I’ve been pondering lately, courtesy of my clients:

How can you afford two flat-screen tv’s, but not a kitchen table?

Isn’t the appointment letter I sent you, a month in advance, that says I’ll be there between 9am and 3pm on such-and-such a day enough notice so that you might at least be out of bed and dressed when I show up at your house… at say, noon?

And without some unidentified male hiding from me under the bed?

I hate when they do that to me!

Should I really have to explain to you why it’s inappropriate to urinate in public?

Did you imagine, when you said your son was, “away with his dad” that I understood they were both housed in the same correctional facility? Geesh!! You made it sound like they were on vacation together, rather than both locked up on drug and weapons charges.

Did you think I wouldn’t figure out that you’re sleeping with your landlord in lieu of paying rent? Really?


I could write a book, I tell ya.

Sea mice

also Painted Duck, Mountain Duck, Rock Duck, Lord and Lady, Squealer.

“Harlequin, well named! Fantastically decorated, but still a thing of beauty! Delightful in color, elegant in form, graceful in carriage, rightly are its little companies called the “Lords and Ladies” of the waters. This is the loveliest of the Sea Ducks, but its beauty is reserved mainly for the cold and inhospitable North and the wave-lashed rocks of isolated ledges in the wintry sea.”
–Edward Howe Forbush in Birds of America (1936)

Monmouth County Audubon’s annual frozen pilgrimage to see the Harlequins at Barnegat Light was last weekend. We had a very small group… probably due to the especially frigid temps.

It’s one of my favorite places in the world, but the walk out the jetty to see the Harlequins is not for the faint of heart. We were blessed that day with a gentle wind out of the right direction and a low tide… so the boulders that make up the mile long jetty were mostly dry and free of ice.

Still… I mostly walked along the sand beside the jetty… looking for Sparrows and Snow Buntings and Horned Larks and leaving the dangerous stuff for the foolhardy members of the group!

The jetty was constructed to protect the shoreline and prevent sand from filling in the inlet. It and a parallel jetty on the north side of the inlet are designed to keep the channel from the ocean to Barnegat Bay deep and navigable.

If you’re lucky, as we were, a couple Harlequins will be feeding in tranquil waters at the very beginning of the jetty where there’s a concrete walkway and a guardrail; oftentimes it’s necessary to walk the full length of it to the roiled waters and slippery rocks at the very end to find them.

We walked all the way out anyway because the jetty and its boulders attract a variety of marine growth (like mussels which the Harlequins feed on) and which otherwise attracts fish, which, in turn, attract more birds like Loons, Scoters, Eiders, Mergansers and Long-tailed Ducks. Purple Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones and Sanderling populate the mossy crevices of the jetty.

Even if there weren’t birds to look at, one could hardly be bored with the constant threat of a broken bone or a concussion with any misstep!

; )

I’d imagine the Harlequins to be something of a boon to the local beach communities which are otherwise mostly deserted in the winter. Someone has to serve chocolate-chip pancakes and hot cocoa to all us shivering birders!

Barnegat Light is, for those who love the sea and the immediate shore, a very special place.

Any ideas to explain the “Sea Mouse” name?