An eagle watch. What fun!
Dead of winter in Connecticut and the urge to break out of the routine. “Hey, how about an eagle watch on the Connecticut River?” I ask my husband. He doesn’t look thrilled, but goes along with it. One problem _ day of the watch, high winds scuttle the trip.
It’s rescheduled to late April, a glorious spring day when temperatures hit 90. Our eagle watch turns into an osprey watch because most eagles have flown north. Some summer on the river, but ospreys drive them away because they’re territorial like relatives fighting over a family vacation house.
We board the cruiser with binoculars and my Nikon with a very modest zoom lens. People around me have $2,000 lenses, but seriously, I don’t have that kind of money and I’m not a bird fanatic. I want souvenir photos, but have no idea if I’m shooting anything worthwhile. I hope I’m capturing something, but I’m basically shooting sky or leaves and hoping there’s a feathered creature somewhere in the mix.
We move from our seats in the cabin to the bow. Two people are eating quiche and sipping white wine _ another couple is getting drunk on Bloody Mary’s. My husband whispers something about regretting leaving beer at home, but who knew?
Gazing at the beautiful scenery and gorgeous homes, the captain’s wife Mindy points out osprey and eagle nests. We’re psyched _ this is what we came for. But soon we realize that there are lots of ospreys and Mindy is pointing out EVERY SINGLE ONE. Novelty quickly turns into pressure to see every bird. “There’s one at 3 o’clock,” she says. “Oh, there’s another at 9 o’clock. Did you see it?”
“Oh look, there are a pair of Merganser ducks, and over there is a swan on her nest,” she says. OK, still interesting. But two hours into the trip, Mindy points out a crow. Seriously? I can see them in my yard or at the dump. I’ve been shooting birds for two hours and I need a break. This is exhausting, particularly after training earlier in the day for an upcoming mini triathlon. My feet are killing me, my quads are burning and I just want to sit down and stare out the window. I’m in bird overload.
After nearly three hours, we return to port. My baseball cap flies off my head into the river.
“Oh, do you want us to turn around to try to get it?” Mindy asks. “No! That’s really OK,” I say. I can feel other passengers’ urgency to end the trip too. In true Mindy fashion, she takes the cap off her head and gives it to me. I am touched by her generosity. She really is a tremendous hostess and a very nice lady.
Overall, it’s a fun adventure, but let’s get one thing straight. Next year I want to see majestic eagles soaring above the river. Turkey vultures, black vultures, ospreys and crows don’t cut it.