As you know if you read At the Fudd Range, Thinking About Safety on Friday morning, we’re at the Fudd River Fish & Game Club for Phase II of the Interminable Range Orientation this morning. But through the magic of scheduled posts, we can be here entertaining you (in the warm expectations your comments will entertain us in turn).
We are having a burst of unseasonable warmth; it hit almost 60ºF yesterday, so the BikeE came out of the garage — tires still at 100 psi from the last warm snap — and off we went. Muscles unused to the recumbent complained at first, but the weather, scenery, and people we met (a recumbent bike is nearly as good a conversation starter as a dog) all made it delightful. Of course, we had to stop and hobnob with all the dog walkers, even though Small Dog was back at home, pining for his humans who were everywhere but giving him the lap he needed. We met a rescued Greyhound and his human, and a solid, stolid black Lab and her family, and a whole bunch of other people.
People wonder: why live there, when you could live anywhere, and the winters can be depression-inducing? This, dear readers and friends, is why:
True, there are days the sight is best enjoyed from atop the climate-controlled seats of the Plush Car, but yesterday was not one of those days. Even at low tide (this is low-ish, maybe not absolute low) it’s a pleasing sight. The Atlantic has a thousand moods; this is the inviting, I-am-here-to-feed-Man mood. Off to the right of this picture, there are some small, bleak, rocky islets, and the next landfall after that is, depending on azimuth, Iceland, Ireland, England, or the Azores. On other days, the Ocean is in the I-am-here-to-feed-on-Man mood.
Heh, too much oceanic thinking. Maybe it was the seafood plate from Friday night. Frozen seafood is okay, but seafood that you know was landed in this harbor today — that’s the best.
After taking this picture, we saddled back up on the bike and came across a knot of excited men and women with huge cameras — like the cameras the pro photographers had in the airshow press briefings, 200, 300, 400 mm lenses. (The airshow guys lean Canon, and this group Nikon. Color of the lens is the giveaway). They had to be birdwatchers. They were!
They explained that they had their eyes on an uncommon Snowy Owl, and the bird had been right here mere minutes ago. One of them talked us onto the bird by terrain association — it was a good 2000m away, a white speck, perching regally on a railing behind a seafood restaurant. Well, we were going that way anyway, and when we ran into a knot of cameras, we’d probably find the bird.
Sure enough, we did, although this group was mostly looky-lous with point-and-shoot and phone cameras; the long-lens team knew they could not get a good shot from this road, shooting west into the setting afternoon sun. But the looky-lous were trying, and so we did, too:
We’ll talk you on to the bird now. Of course, his (?) white privilege is not showing, as he’s backlighted by the aforementioned yellow star. But you can certainly spot him in this picture; begin from the telephone pole.
Go right: there is a chimney.
Go right again: there is a small antenna, probably a TV antenna.
Go right to the very peak of the garage roof. There is our Snowy friend. Let’s zoom in:
Ah, the “antenna” was a weathervane.
The temps will drop again, and Snowy the Owl will probably have real snow to be concealed against soon enough. But it’s quite a thrill to share the zip code with one of these interesting birds that roost in the Arctic and only come down here to feed.
Most of the birdwatchers were not from around here; they were from all over New England, motivated by a Rare Bird Alert on the Audubon website. The birdwatchers we saw were all class acts: remaining on the public right-of-way, respecting private property, and not approaching the bird, in short, all the things the Audubon Society asks people to do. They say that “seeing a Snowy Owl is a rare privilege,” and although, as the pictures show, we didn’t see it all that well, we do feel rarely privileged.