Monday, May 21, 2007

stupid birder tricks

This past weekend Nancy and I were in Newport to attend a wedding. So who can resist a little birding after a wedding? So what if it's raining? So what if we're all dressed up in clothes suitable for church not marsh?

We crossed the bridge to Jamestown and headed for Beavertail Light, which is a great winter birding spot but this isn't winter. The waves were huge and awesome to watch with or without birds. We tooled around the entire island of Jamestown and as we were passing a marshy meadow or meadowy marsh I spotted a flock of glossy ibises. All flocks of glossy ibises must be checked for white-faced ibises. It's the law. Whose law, I'm not sure, but I had to stop.

To avoid getting rear ended I thought I'd just pull off the road a little in a suitable spot. The shoulder of the road was very wet and covered in puddles but I figured "oh, it's just a little muddy". Hah! Shoulder? What shoulder? Puddle? How about gaping bottomless abyss?!? As soon as the right front wheel went off the road I knew we were in trouble.

Crunch, scrape. The bottom of my car bonded with the pavement. I tried to drive out but the wheels on the right side of the car were not touching anything but water. Deep water. No mud. No land. Water. I kicked up quite a splash every time I hit the gas pedal.

A guy stopped to offer assistance but he had no rope or tow chain. Another guy stopped, asked the first guy if he had a tow chain, then said "I'll be right back." Guy #1 waited with us for 15 minutes for Guy #2 to return. He didn't. A police car arrived and I swear the officer was about Lizzy's age she looked so young. We told her all about Guy #2's alleged return with the tow chain so she said she'd wait with us with the lights on to keep us from getting hit. Guy #1 left.

I scanned the ibis flock for white-faced ones but they were all glossies. Gloriously beautiful glossies poking around in the marsh -- a worthy sight in themselves. Then I noticed movement near the osprey platform. An osprey landed on the sign identifying this place as Marsh Meadow -- hmm, very descriptive name. Very close to us. He sat on the sign preening for awhile then flew up to the nest where the other one was sitting, presumably incubating some eggs. I could only see the top of her head (presumably a her). Osprey #1 flew up to the pole conveniently placed next to the nest platform and perched for awhile.

Ospreys 1 and 2 did osprey behaviors. I did birder behaviors. Guy #2 still hadn't shown. I decided to call AAA. Our friendly officer agreed that Guy #2 was probably not coming back. "Jamestown is a small island" she said. True. It could not possibly take half an hour to go get a tow chain and come back unless he had to cross both bridges and go to the mainland to get it. No tow chains on Jamestown? No tow chains on Aquidneck? Probably had to go to Providence. I've had the four-way flashers on the whole time.

The officer decides AAA will come faster if she calls them. She calls them. Many osprey behaviors and glossy ibis scans later, the tow truck arrives. Barn swallows and tree swallows descend in clouds over the marsh/meadow. The tow truck eventually gets my car out of the bottomless ditch and unstuck from the road surface. I turn the key.

The car won't start. I open the hood and check to see if hanging over the edge of the abyss has damaged something not immediately apparent. Tow truck guy looks under the vehicle. There is nothing amiss. It dawns on me. The flashers have been on for an hour by now. The battery is probably dead. I mention same to tow truck guy who agrees that could be it. He hooks up his battery jumping thing and presto the car starts.

I thank tow truck guy and impossibly young officer of the law profusely. None of the glossy ibises turn into white-faced ones. We circumnavigate Jamestown, cross the bridge to Aquidneck Island and laugh all the way home.

1 comment:

John L. Trapp said...

Janet: I love the looks and content of the "new" Plover Warden Diaries.

I have a link to your blog on my blog (Birds Etcetera) and would appreciate it if you would consider a reciprocal link. Thanks!