Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Wild Life

While things may have been wild on our boat, I'm talking about the wild life we met while sailing this summer.

Ospreys in the Chesapeake are a given and while I'm not bored with them, I'm used to them. It had been years since I'd seen pelicans and I was thrilled to finally spot some when we got a bit south into the Patuxant and Potomac Rivers. We didn't see a lot of them but just enough to make me happy.

It was in Oxford that I watched an adult swan beat the snot out of a baby swan. Having read The Ugly Duckling as a child I was appalled, and felt quite cheated.

I thought herons were rare but I saw so many of them during our trip that after awhile I quit grabbing the binoculars every time I heard one of their signature screams. And anyway, they sound just like Wilbur.

A couple of pods of dolphins zipped past us but never close enough to photograph, and seagulls were a dime a dozen.

Ducks are always fun and while one group loved the left over flour tortillas I tossed to them, another group completely turned their bills up at them. I found it a bit odd though that there seem to be a lot of female duck gangs out there. There always seems to be a female duck ring leader and I got the impression that there was a Mr. Duck out there who'd 'done her wrong' and she and her posse were out on a mission to find him and give him what for!
Possibly the most disturbing animal activity I witnessed during our trip was when two cormorants had a huge fight over a snake. Honest to God, it was beyond disgusting and I actually jumped up and down in the cockpit and screamed.

I heard a commotion and grabbed my trusty binoculars just in time to see a cormorant trying to suck down a snake like a strand of spaghetti. Another cormorant tried in vain to steal it and a little game of 'keep away' took place. Cormorant # 1 kept trying to suck down the snake. Cormorant # 2 tried to steal it and #1 would jerk away all the while tossing its head around while attempting to disentangle the snake from its bill. Just when it seemed like the snake was a goner, it would erupt from #1's gullet and writhe crazily about. Finally to the snake's and #2's dismay, the snake finally disappeared from sight and I had to have a beer.

Jelly fish were a huge problem and they ran absolutely amok this summer. If it weren't for them Wilbur would have been able to swim a lot more and we all would have therefore benefited from the exercise. At each anchorage I would peer, ever hopefully into the water, and damn! all of a sudden there they'd be; tons of amoeba like creatures, undulating as they passed under our boat with the tide.

But my favorite creature by far was the blue crab. I had no idea how friendly they were! I know they scuttle sideways when running along the beach but I'd never seen one swim.
We had just docked at Tangier Island when I saw something in the water slide on past the boat. What on earth? Then another one. They were crabs, and they were swimming upright all the while happily waving their claws at us as they whizzed on by.

I've never felt so welcome!

Wilbur loves blue crabs too and here he is with his Crabby Cake.

I now have to wonder what kind of creatures we'll encounter this winter when we sail on down to Florida. I believe I've heard about these things called alligators.


  1. You're on a regular sailing safari! I love how Wilbur is in on the action.

  2. The alligators aren't as friendly as the crabs! We have a lot of both here in Louisiana. =)

  3. Since Wilbur is such a huge nebby nose, I'll have to make sure he steers clear of the 'gators!