Observations on birding and life, from a novice at both
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I've seen a Snowy Owl!
The call goes out: a Snowy Owl at Stratford Point. Not much more than a 20-minute drive away. Grab binoculars, camera, car keys, jump in car. Frank Gallo gives me directions to this place I've been a million times before but of course can't remember how to get to. He's giving exceptionally good directions, but to me it sounds like: words, words, diner, turn left, words, words, airport, other words, more words -- what is wrong with me? Anyone who gives me directions may as well be talking in Abyssinian. I know that even once I've plugged the street address into the GPS, I will still get lost. Now why is everyone suddenly obeying the speed limit? It's un-American. Why won't that giant SUV get out of the overtaking lane? What the hell is that guy in the giant Cadillac tank-boat-thing with Tennessee license plates actually doing? Certainly not driving. I take a wrong turn. Yes, even with the GPS. Somehow I get there. Step out of car. Cell phone falls out of pocket onto pavement, falls into more pieces than I realized a cell phone consisted of. The bird is astonishing. It's just sitting there, 20 yards away from a knot of birders, napping, occasionally opening its eyes and swiveling its head, absorbing the warmth of the rocks. I get that dissociated feeling you get when you're in the middle of an accident that's unspooling right before your eyes: It's happening, yes, it's happening, but somehow it's not happening; you're registering it all from a distance. All this time -- more than three decades -- and here I am, face to face with this creature. It's head is so rounded, so boofy -- somehow I only fully notice this now, being able to watch it turn that head. And there are barely perceptible ear tufts, fluffing up now and then in the wind, which always blows cold and hard out at Stratford Point. Thank you, Scott Kruitbosch, for finding this beauty today, and Frank Mantlik, for setting up his scope so I could get a good look!