Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bowerman Basin Trip

                            Standing: Judi Knapp (nee Cooper) and Laurel Smith (my big sis)
                                                        Seated: Me, Mary Jane Cooper (Judi's 86 year old mom)
                                                        Photographer: Jackie Smith (our little sis)
                                                        Double-click photo to see it larger.

Our trip to Bowerman Basin yesterday was fantabulous.

We got there a little later than we should have. The tide was almost all the way in, so we didn't get inundated with flocks of sandpipers and other shorebirds as expected, but we were fortunate enough to be able to see literally tens of thousands of sandpipers lifting off and settling back onto a small spit of land about 600 feet offshore. To witness them coordinating their movements (repeated undulating "waves" of flight upward and then back down again) was stunning beyond words.  It looked like the island itself was alive, "breathing" birds in a rhythmic way -- the same way you see when a stadium full of people does the "wave" but a gazillion times more impressive -- there were no laggers, no slackers, no missteps at all. It was, in one single word, INCREDIBLE.  I will never forget it. 

I don't think we missed a thing by arriving when we did -- and if we did, we can always try again next year when they arrive in huge flocks again!

We got back from the walk just as the rain and wind blew in. We  ate lunch at a small airport cafe (Lana's) there at the refuge. T'was a lot of fun. 

TROOPER OF THE DAY: Mary Jane made it out and back a mile in each direction (at age almost 87!) using only a walker, but she was pushing it about as fast as any of us wanted to walk, so we were impressed.  I hope we're all doing as well at 86 as she is! (Not likely! She has been very active in sports and birding all of her life while raising three kids, so her body is sturdy and her constitution gold.)

A truly memorable day. I hope you'll go sometime if you ever get the opportunity. Bowerman Basin is a World Heritage refuge. People come from across the globs to witness the spectacle that happens there once or twice a year during migration season.

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