Thursday, January 30, 2014

Round Valley Reservoir Beginning to Freeze; Snowy Owl Sighted

The last thing I want to do is wish for spring, because the next season will be upon us so quickly. I want to savor winter despite the hardships. Spring will be here and pass me by. I would love to be ice fishing, which is some of my favorite. Guys are out having great times, but I don't bemoan missing out. I get on with what I can do. I found one spot where I could put a line out with the 3/4-ounce steel egg sinker, and marshmallow and mealworm, the reservoir icing somewhat. Another guy came along and before I left, had two hits on Power Bait. The weather felt very mild with little wind and 25 degrees. I got used to the temperatures in the single digits and teens with blustery breezes making sure I knew it.

For some unknown reason, unknown at least to me, snowy owls came to New Jersey in numbers this winter, and one of them has been spotted in Round Valley Recreation Area. I've heard of one spotted at Merrill Creek Reservoir in the past, and on Island Beach and Barnegat Light, but never have so many sightings I've known about roused the passions of birders. I haven't seen one, but it would certainly be a flighty moment if I were to. The buffleheads are always good to see with their strobe light wing pattern in flight. I've seen so many coots I don't really care to see more, but if anyone else wants to see winter water birds, Round Valley is a good place for them. And a lot of birders have been active here recently.

I noticed a seagull from afar that looked bigger than the common herring gull, standing on ice. I saw so many gulls--and heard them too--over the 13 years I lived on Long Beach Island, you might think I would have grown tired of them, but I really never lost a comfortable familiarity. It's amazing what they can do. While I treaded clams in the bay, a seagull once landed on my wetsuit hooded head in January to try to get a clam from my tire tube supported basket, when I dunked to get another. I would fight the bird in my basket off when I came up. But then it would land on my head again, and I couldn't possibly have refused the bird's company in good conscience. Finally, it got a clam, flew over a parking lot, almost hovered with it, and--calculating--dropped it on the pavement, then picked out the exposed meat.

It was a great way to earn a living, clamming. For a 20 something who could endure winter in the brine. Now let's see if I can catch at least one more trout this season.

Snowy Owl at Merrill Creek Reservoir (Care of Oliver Round)

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