thursday: i went out on the boat with andrew again, this time for a department of energy and environmental protection (i think, not sure of the exact acronym) survey with two employees, paul and julie. it was around long island sound again, but this time we entered the ocean through the connecticut river.
just like the last boat outing, we were counting mostly cormorants and gulls, with a few oystercatchers, herons, and eiders in the mix. we actually got to walk on one of the little islands, near the pfizer complex in connecticut. it had a lot of construction material remnants that i clambered around on.
when you get really close to the birds, they all start squawking, which sounds like “eh? eh? eh?” i got to be really close to the poor cormorants, since they didn’t have anywhere to fly away.
i even had the chance to drive the boat for quite a while. i’ll see about getting pictures of me doing so up later. it was a totally different experience from driving a car: 25 mph feels incredibly fast on a boat, and at that point, waves start slamming into the bow, making it pitch. logs and buoys are an omnipresent hazard, and shallow rocks can be difficult to avoid. i also had difficulties with overcorrecting when i steered. despite all this though, the experience was great–i even had a silly”invictus” moment when the lines “i am the master of my fate/ i am the captain of my soul” involuntarily popped into my head. i wasn’t even the captain of a boat, much less my own soul…but the poem is catchy.
friday: i went with two members of the salt marsh crew, rocky and kaitlyn (sp? again), and kevin, a bander, to mist net saltmarsh sparrows in narragansett.
the marsh was beautiful, but it smelled like sulfur, brine, and decay. i was trying to stay dry, but it loved me so much it sucked me into itself twice, filling up both my boots with brackish water and suffusing my clothes with its distinctive odor.
getting the birds into the mist nests involved walking in a line across the marsh while clapping our hands, trying to flush birds into the nets. although the mist nets are supposed to be invisible, i found that the sparrows often managed to evade them.
for our morning of stomping across puddles and hopping over channels, the marsh-spirits sought fit to reward us with four sparrows. not that i’m complaining, of course–i’m glad that we had the opportunity to help track a threatened species, and i got to practice my grips on more birds. i did hose myself off thoroughly after i got back to the office, though.