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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Birding Delmarva in the Rain, Part 2

Our second day of birding was supposed to be by kayak on the Delaware Bay, in the James Farm Ecological Preserve. Alas, the storms mentioned in Day One of this posting caused the kayak trip to be cancelled. In its place we chose a birding hike through Newport Farms, an astonishing privately owned property of thousands of acres, with a conservation easement that is saving it from the development wildly proceeding in the area. Indeed, I found when I searched for this place online a mobile home development with the same name under way. The Newport Farms that we tromped through for four hours that Saturday morning comprises every environment Delmarva has to offer: forest, fields, wetlands, marshes, beach. and streams. It rained pretty much the whole time we were out, in increments ranging from mist to drizzle to outright downpour.

Despite the horrid weather, we enjoyed the beauty of this place and even managed to see some birds. A partial list of the morning's sightings: Cow birds, mute swans, black vultures, osprey, swamp sparrows, cliff swallows, tree swallows, coots, sanderlings, ring neck ducks, canada geese, a northern harrier, a small flock of great snowy egrets that we kept flushing up from the ditches, great egrets, cormorants, belted kingfisher, western meadow larks, boattailed grackles, great blue herons, a bald eagle, and something that would only be worth mentioning if you come from New Mexico where there are none of them, cardinals. I often say that if I had known there were no cardinals here, I wouldn't have moved here, and maybe I even mean it. Today's photo is a view out over the wetlands on Newport Farms. I could have taken an infinitude of photos, but confined myself to just a few. It was so amazingly beautiful there.

We were quite wet and tired after four hours of walking in the rain, some of it over pretty rough terrain, and were happy to get back home to change into dry clothes. Peg stayed home for a long nap, and Gail and I spent the afternoon having Thai food and seeing Where The Wild Things Are with a dear friend, the head of my department when I taught in Delaware. It was a warm and cozy way to stay out of the weather and catch up on news and gossip.

The next day, Sunday, we had signed up for an afternoon guided bird walk at one of our very favorite places, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Gail and our friend Peg, bless their hearts, headed out for the walk, but I had had enough of wet feet and forced conviviality with strangers, even fellow birders. So, I stayed home and I had the long nap that afternoon. After my nap, I went for a long walk along the Assawoman Canal, through woods and beach cottages, breathing in the damp ocean air, imagining that I was rehydrating all my dessicated New Mexico cells.

At Prime Hook Gail and Peg saw snow geese, pintail ducks, mallards, kinglets, cedar waxwings, semi-palmated plovers, ruddy turnstones, robins, and most excitingly their group helped rescue a loggerhead sea turtle that was stranded on Broadkill beach. I was a little jealous of this adventure, but without that nap and solitary walk I might have turned into an ax murderer that afternoon. So, can't have everything, I guess.

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