Friday, September 26, 2008

a REAL hurricane bird

This bird was one that I clearly did not expect.  I had the kids this morning while Ginger was out with friends.  2 year-old Hazel was asking to "Go outSIDE dadDEE."  Yesterday we dug a bunch of yellow mushrooms out of the front yard, and while I think they're something called chicken-fat boteros (and good eating), I don't really feel all that comfortable watching both toddlers in the front yard given that 1 year old Hannah still puts an awful lot of stuff in her mouth, so we went to the beach instead.  I took my binoculars, because I always take my binoculars (ever since a cold day back when Ginger and I were dating and we went to the beach without them and 5 birds that were probably brant flew in off the lake), but elected not to take my camera given that I was already going to be taking 2 size 4 diapees, 2 size 5 diapees, wipes, milk bottle, milk sippee, hats, sand shovels, pail, "leash"-backpack for Hannah, etc. etc. you get the picture.  
This, however, is what I saw soon after I got the kids settled into digging in the sand (the drawing's a little off, the tail should come straight out from the body and not droop down and the head should be settled a little lower, but you get the idea):

I picked the bird up well to the north flying over a group of about a dozen boats fishing likely over a school of perch.  At first glimpse I thought it was going to be an eagle since its wingspan was so huge.  Something didn't seem right though, and I must have felt the wings were too narrow because my next thought was of jaegers, however, there was no white flash in the wings.  I followed it as it slowly worked its way in, intrigued as it flew easily with slow shallow beats mostly below the horizontal on somewhat bent wings.  Eventually it got close enough that it became clear what it was.  A freakin frigatebird.  And I hadn't brought my camera.  I hope Hazel didn't hear some of Daddy's next words.  The bird eventually cut across the dunes no more than 50 or 75 yards away.  I could see the long bill with the hooked tip.  The tail was really long (which it kept tightly folded in a long spike).  I read somewhere once that frigatebirds have the lightest wing-loading of any bird which made sense given how incredibly bouyant it was on ridiculously long thin wings.  It circled a couple times over the river and I lost it looking around the beach for someone who seemed likely to have a cell phone.

The bird was entirely dark, with no white underneath, no white in the axillaries and with evenly dark upperwings, making this, to the best of my research, an adult male magnificent frigatebird.

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