June 29, 2008
We were invited to help some friends with some psychic research at their home on Long Island and stay the weekend. On Sunday, when all the work was done, the friends took Chrissy and me on a hike at Caumsett State Historic Park so I could look for birds. It was a hot day with bright sun, but a nice breeze blew in off the ocean to cool us. I heard a few screeching calls from above and figured I'd soon see a red-tailed hawk. When we came out of the woods to an open sky, I looked up to find not one but three red-tails circling on the currents high above. It's so gratifying to identify something by sound! It makes me feel like I'm really learning and capable of learning even more.
We passed an osprey nest on a very high platform, maybe even as high as one hundred feet. From what I could see there were three ospreys in or around it. Our path took us within what seemed a safe distance (perhaps a hundred yards) from the bottom of the platform's pole, but the screeches of the ospreys above warned us to make a wider arc.
At the top of the big hill, we sat for a long time, with a picnic blanket and wine, chatting about Saturday's research. I had my binocs close at hand the whole time. I have to stay, there's a lot to be said for staying still to see birds. I spotted a swan with her cygnets on a pond far below. I saw the red-tailed hawks soar up, lose height, and disappear behind the trees. But my best sighting that day was of a dark bird of prey coming in off the ocean. Closer inspection told me it was an osprey. I looked again and realized it was carrying prey in its talons. I looked even closer and found it was a big shiny fish! I've seen hawks carrying birds and rodents, but I never saw a bird carry a fish before. What a thrill!
On the way back to the car, I saw red-winged blackbirds, a blue jay, and an eastern kingbird. As we walked along the beach, I tried to get some good shots of the cormorants drying their wings. All in all, a lovely outing!