Journal Musings Nature

Eye to Eye

Cape May Warbler
Exhausted Cape May Warbler on Whalewatching Boat, Stellwagon Banks, Boston Bay, 1990

The monsoon is a shield of cloud hiding the sun and letting down its rainy hair. And everything is water colored and drenched. This is the time of year when summer water levels are determined and the leather shoes shoved into the back of the shoe closet turn fuzzy white with mold. And when the hot breath of humidity makes its way into the walls and windows.

I have been sitting all day by the window, and the threat of rain has been slow in gathering. For some reason the grey sky reminded me of a day thirteen years ago when I was on my third whalewatching boat trip out in Stellwagon Banks, off the coast of Boston. It was a windy day, the sky overcast, and the waves as grey as lead. All day the boat had been searching for the telltale signs of humpback whale spume, but nothing. Most people had retreated belowdecks to warm up by the stove and a hot mug of cocoa, but I preferred to sit by the gunwhale, still staring at the sea.

Suddenly, like a net of blossums dropping out of the sky, a blanket of Cape May Warblers descended on the boat. They landed everywhere: on the gunwhales, the deck, the deck chairs, the awning above the cabin door, the roof of the cabin, the life boats, and even on people’s shoulders and heads. The tiny, sparrow sized birds barely moved about, looking a little dazed. The naturalist on board explained that they were on their cross-the-bay leg of their migration, having started earlier in the day from Provincetown and heading up to Gloucester by the evening, a distance of several hundred miles. They were so exhausted from their ordeal that their normal reaction of fleeing was temporarily forgotten and, sighting a lucky reprieve from the unbroken open water, took a detour from their flight path. For about twenty minutes humans and birds co-existed in perfect harmony. I can well believe the story of “Life of Pi”. It is not really that improbable.

But what a wonder to get so close to a wild creature and have it look back at you without fear!

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