About the bird.
I do not know if you have seen the news lately. Like, the birding news. Okay, since the story has actually been on the national broadcast news networks… and the cable news networks… and a few community newspapers like that one in New York (the Times, I think(?)) Anyway, there’s been news.
The news, of which I speak, is about a rare eagle. A very large rare eagle. This eagle’s cultivar (I’m a gardener, not an avian-er) is the ‘Steller’s Sea Eagle’.
E-bird describes the Steller’s Eagle as, “An immense eagle with a large head and massive orange bill to match.” I looked it up (shocker), and this bird’s swagger includes an eight-foot wing span (eight freaking feet!). It is of the largest raptors in the world, weighing in at about twenty pounds. It’s hard to make a Bald Eagle look small but, apparently, this one can.
It hangs out in Asia. As a matter of fact, there is a rather large community of them on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. Sometimes they wander into Korea and Japan too. But do you know where they do not wander, at least normally?
The United States.
Okay, there have been a few spotted in Alaska and, by a few, I’m talking about seven of ’em between the late 1970s and 2004. After that, no more spotted in Alaska.
Then, for the first time in recorded history, there was one spotted in Canada in the spring of 2021.
After that, and also for the first time in recorded history, there was one in the lower 48 states (in Texas (yep!)).
The bird experts think it was the same one (I don’t know why they do, but they seem pretty certain).
So then, in December, the Steller Sea Eagle (again, they think it is the same one) was spotted along the Taunton River… in Massachusetts.
And,on New Year’s Eve, it was spotted in a place called Five Islands, in Georgetown Maine. Five Islands is right around the corner from here! Okay, like, not around the corner in road-speak, but pretty much right around the corner (and skirting around one small island) by boat.
There was so much hubbub, I tell you. People were driving hours, even climbing onto planes, for the chance to see it!
But not as exciting as it is right now, because… guys… it’s here.
Like here here. On the island, here.
It showed up in Boothbay Harbor on Thursday. On Friday, a local photographer actually found it while live streaming on instagram (you can follow him as manbythesea on instagram, but I will warn you that watching his live streams is as addictive as watching that live stream of the pregnant giraffe a few years ago (what… you didn’t spend hours and says and weeks of your life waiting for the baby giraffe?!).
On the island.
We had cars and trucks and SUVs and jeeps (and probably go carts, bicycles, and skateboards (I couldn’t watch all day)) driving all over the island, stopping anywhere with an open water view to scan the treeline.
John-the-local-photographer was live on instagram all morning, and then got back at it after lunch, as he searched for the Eagle.
The cherry on top of the search cake is that everyone is being super respectful of the bird. The photos captured so far have all been taken with very long lenses from a distance, and I haven’t heard one complaint of people trespassing on private property (as a matter of fact, there are lots of reminders amongst the crowds not to trespass). People are remarking on how friendly their fellow humans are, including being generous with binoculars, spotting scopes, and big-lensed cameras so people can see this amazing creature.
So here’s why I’m smiling, even though I do not have a photo of the celebrity eagle (and haven’t really ventured very far beyond my screen porch to try to get a look at it).
Today, as I listened to the instagram live stream, I was taking down the last of my Christmas decorations.
I thought I was done, having put the cover on the final very large, and very stuffed, rubbermaid container. I was carrying it to the back door, when something caught my eye.
They were dangling at eye level… metal, white with sparkles. I’d collected the words over the course of a few years, many years ago, and they’ve come out at Christmastime ever since.
The words aren’t limited to ‘Christmas words’. I mean, there are some. ‘Merry’ (along with ‘merry&bright’), ‘falalalala’, and ‘jingle’ represent. ‘Naughty’ and ‘nice’ round out the holiday theme.
Still perfect for Christmastime, but also generally applicable, are ‘peace’, ‘hope’, joy’, and ‘believe’.
Then there are the more universal ‘cheers’, ‘dream’, ‘imagine’, ‘smile’ and ‘giggle’.
There I was, listening to this man search for this rare bird – that should be fishing about 5000 miles from here – as I finished taking down my Christmas decorations.
I realized I wasn’t done, when my attention is called to the words floating in the periphery of my vision.
I paid attention to each of them as I took them down. Which is when I noticed that, yes, the man on the phone speaker is excitedly sharing his search for the Steller’s Eagle. But he’s also talking about how he has met so many people that he would never have met if so many human beings weren’t trying to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience, individually… but also together.
He explained that he moved to the area two years ago, and – due to the pandemic – it’s been hard to meet folks. But it’s clear that, over the past few days, that’s changed.
hope… joy… peace… believe… imagine…
And I’m smiling.
Because now he belongs to this big tribe, and that’s just so cool.
So now I am surrounded by great words, and something great is happening as people connect…
And I feel grounded in this new and transitioning time, in this new and (hopefully) transitioning year.
And how awesome is that?
Oh, you bet your arse I’m joining in the search for that dang bird tomorrow.
John, the manbythesea, has promised he will be out and about and live-streaming his adventures. This time, I’ll be listening from my car, with my camera (and it’s long lens) in tow, just in cases.*
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Happy 2022 all over again ❤
Thanks for readin’.
*I know it’s ‘just in case’ but, c’mon, who didn’t love, in Love Actually, when Colin Firth (Jamie) proposes to Aurelia (in very bad Portuguese) and she surprises him by responding in English. Impressed, he says, “You learned English.” and she responds, “Just in cases.” Great line.
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