Monday, May 3, 2010

The right side of the boat

Yellow Warbler, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

Lily and I have been playing Endless Ocean: Blue World together for the last month or so. She now loves sea creatures and this has led to trips to see the New England Aquarium, Sea World, the Disney film, Oceans, etc. Yesterday we went on a whale watch, her first.

Overall, the day was a success. She was elated to see not only humpback and minke whales for the first time but white-sided dolphins as well. But there were some tense moments at the beginning. Lily and I were positioned at the rail on the left side of the boat. Unfortunately, the initial encounters were all on the right side of the boat (in fact, other folks on our side began grumbling that the boat had a right side bias). The tension wasn't helped by the enthusiasm of the whale watch "narrator" (The New England Aquarium whale watch treats whale encounters as a show) who breathlessly shouted out all the whales to be seen over there. I kept telling Lily that we would have our chance, but ultimately she felt she was missing out on too much and we struggled through the crowd on the right side. Eventually, however, the best sightings were on the left.

By the way, good long-tailed duck

and northern gannet sightings as well.

One gannet plunge-dived on cue just as I was pointing him out to Lily (she remembered this from a scene in Oceans).

At any rate, I am reminded of the right side of the boat dynamic whenever I read MASSBIRD posts during May. During warbler migration, Hellcat and the Dell are the places to be and I always feel like I'm missing out on something when I'm not there. On the other hand, I know there is plenty of goodness to be found where I am, especially now that I am easing out of "list mode" and have begun studying behavior more carefully. So no long expedition this morning--a return to the lovely but warbler-humble Charles River Peninsula. (Actually, I was told by an old CRP hand last year that he'd seen blackburnians there, so I'm still holding out hope that the warblers will come. I did hear a blue-wing for the first time there today).

The birds of the day turned out to be orchard orioles, currently out-numbering Baltimores on the property. At least two pairs, chattering at each other; other males being chased and chattered at. I've been hearing them sing for a few days now. This was the first time I had a chance to really watch them.

I'm going to stick to the left side of the boat for the time being.


Kim said...

Sounds like a great day. Love the picture with the Northern Gannetts flying.

Peter Oehlkers said...

I'm just getting used to pelagic seasonality. No shearwaters, lots of gannets.