The allure of a marsh in spring. (No bugs yet.)
Last Saturday it was warm and sunny. We bought Laura some better lacrosse goggles at Dick’s Sporting Goods, then took a little road trip south to the Great Marsh in Massachusetts.
First we stopped at the Rowley River saltmarshes because John has been there in summer and knows there is a successful purple martin colony in gourd houses.
John is trying for the fifth or sixth year to get purple martins to nest in a house by our pond. He’s had tree swallows for a couple of years instead.
This year he moved the house further out into the field. “They need to be away from the trees. I’ve been a bad martin daddy.”
Since the Rowley gourds weren’t even up yet, we figured the martins weren’t back.
So we drove a little further north to Stackyard Road and took a walk through the marsh out to Sawyers Island.
We saw egrets. Fun fact:
The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers.
Egrets live to be about 23, which seems old for a bird.
Opreys were nesting on a platform just over the crest of the hill atop the island.
The Osprey is a fish-eating specialist, with live fish accounting for about 99% of its diet. Barbed pads on the soles of its feet help it grip slippery fish. When an Osprey takes a large fish to its nest, it carries the fish headfirst to make it as aerodynamic as possible.
Laura and I stretched out on the rough brown grass and watched them for a while, taking turns with my polarizing sunglasses. John took a walk to a small reedy pond down the hill.
Beyond, at the eastern side of the island, were field trials with hunting/ retrieving dogs being run through their paces. Now and then we could hear the pop of a (presumably pretend) gun.
Laura had been very resistant to the idea of mandatory fresh air and a road trip in search of birds. “Boring” was her assessment.
When we got to Sawyers Island she sprawled out in the back seat and refused to get out. “I’ll just have a nap while you go for a walk,” she said.
Just our luck, a wasp flew in the car. She decided to join us, but dragged her feet (muddily) at first.
Then we saw the egrets, and minnows in shallow pools, and mucked through puddles adventurously, and took turns with the binoculars, and she decided to enjoy herself after all.
Her freckles came out in the sun.