Starrigavan Estuary

It was Rowan’s turn to pick where we went for the day’s outing, and since both she and Connor wanted to go with friends to the kids carnival at Blatchley Middle School after lunch, she picked a walk around Starrigavan Estuary.

Weather was decent – just a light mist or rain when it rained at all. There were quite a few gulls in the estuary, with one (pictured above) standing out due to the exceptionally intense colors on the bill and legs. I’m not sure if this bird had some hormonal thing going on, but other than the brighter bill and legs, it looked like a pretty typical Glaucous-winged Gull.

One of the things that I get a little frustrated by (though this could be a positive thing, overall) is when there are birds I become aware of but do not recognize and I am unable get documentation via recording or photo. Today there were a couple of different birds that I was a little frustrated by. While walking around the boardwalk just past the bird viewing shelter, I heard a buzzing alarm sort of call coming from the estuary sedges/grasses. It did not sound like the Song Sparrows or Pacific Wrens that were also out there and had called previously. I heard it a few times and think I might have seen it fly (but not well), before it went silent and I neither heard nor saw anything else of it. A little later in the walk there was a warbler in the bushes that I got a decent look at. It was probably an Orange-crowned Warbler, but it seemed a little bright, and I would have liked to get a photo to review later, but it flew off before I was able to get my camera out.

When I have these sorts of observations, I experience a sort of low-level frustration. I’m not really sure quite how to articulate it, but it seems to this feeling of needing to know and frustration that the opportunity is gone. I don’t feel this drive for every uncertain observation, though. On the same walk we had a raptor fly by (chasing after a robin), that streaked by so quickly that I wasn’t able to get a good look at it. I’m pretty confident it was either a Merlin or a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and reasonably confident it was a hawk. Despite lingering uncertainty, for some reason I didn’t/don’t feel the same about that as I did for the warbler (which I’m also reasonably sure about) or the other bird (which I don’t have any good ideas for). Regardless, I think in the long run, this feeling of need to know has driven a lot of my progress towards learning more about natural history here. So despite a certain unpleasantness to the feeling in the moment, I think in the long run it’s been a helpful one.

Rowan and I spent some time out in the estuary looking at the heads of beach rye for more caterpillars. Neither of us found any – so I’m not sure where they went, or if maybe last time when Rowan found two without trying very hard, it was just one of those things and they weren’t actually as common as I might have thought.

While out there among the graminoids, I tried to take some time to focus on the physical experience of being there. It seems like it shouldn’t be very hard to do this, and in some ways it isn’t, but I do find myself internally verbalizing the experience and I suspect that might distract in some ways. I’ve been challenged recently (and not for the first time) to try telling stories of experiences in a manner that is more akin to reliving in memory than merely retelling from memory. I’ve found that for me, it’s the verbalization/thoughts that I often remember rather than the actual physical experience, and it seems like this might be part of why I have only limited success in reliving a memory with the full sensory experience. That said, what success I have seems to mostly be with visual and to a somewhat lesser extent auditory senses – smell, touch, and taste are weak to the point of non-existence in anything but a verbal recollection of what I might have thought at the time.

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