We’ve made it to CT and are promptly leaving for Maine, but in the meantime had a few side adventures.
First, we had to get here. The drive from PA to CT was largely uneventful, but it was exciting to cross the Hudson river (first time for me – Juliana) and see NYC on the horizon. By the time we made it into CT, it was beginning to get dark, so we didn’t get to see much of the place until this morning as it was getting dusted with snow. Which, to be honest, is the best way to see any town because, as a southerner, snow is like magic, beautifying icing that quickly increases the quaintness level of anywhere. period.
Snow, turns out, is also a brutal, chaos monster guaranteed to increase the calamity level of any hwy. period. As we set out for Maine with our coffee and breakfast sandwiches this morning, we were swiftly slowed by traffic. People slipping up and making mistakes left and right. I, having never seen anyone drive in freshly, falling snow, was astonished. The wreck tally on the highway grew to a grand total of 17 by the time we reached Bridgeport from Greenwich, a roughly 35 mile stretch of interstate. Fortunately, it looked as though the only casualties were cars (upwards of about 40 of them), and I’m left feeling bad for everyone who’s gotta go buy new transportation this New Year.
So, you know, take it easy driving when it’s snowing out there.
A perk to the traffic, though, is that we decided to take a break from the stop-and-go by making a stop to go searching for a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), a life bird for both of us. (Naturalist tip: If you crash your car, you don’t get to see the bird. Reread above paragraph). Long Point Beach was our destination, with a snowy owl siting as recent as yesterday. The entire experience was full of novelty for me. A beach BLANKETED WITH SNOW. A flat ocean featuring long-tailed ducks and an elegant mute swan FLOATING WITH SNOW. Marsh land and spartina grass COVERED IN SNOW. And, ultimately, a snowy owl (you guessed it) IN THE SNOW.
This side trip wasn’t just cool because we actually saw the bird we were seeking (plus several other bonus birds and a 2nd lifer, common mergansers), but because the birding force was strong today. Given the snowy, cold, low-visibility weather (#birdhard), everyone we ran into was out there for ONE thing: the snowy owl. We bumped into several other birders, equipped with cameras, possibly even interacted with one of Jake’s nature photography idols (he’s now kicking himself for not asking her.) Everyone we encountered took the time to guide us to the owl. This is something Jake and I both love about birders and naturalists in general. We’re a community of discoverers who are eager to share with others. It’s a nice community to be a part of.
The snowy owl was, of course, a delight to behold. Personal favorite features: Her fuzzy facial feathers catching up the snow, her eyes, mere slits, casually swiveling around at her surroundings, and the pile of snow collecting atop her head.
On our trek back in the now horizontally falling snow, we crossed paths with a couple of new birding arrivals who we made sure to share the snowy owl details with. As we parted ways, they pumped their fists into the air shouting “Snowy owl in the snow!”
And the road trip carries on.