Walking. With My Oystercatcher.

She was alone. Some form of birdsong, but at a high (very) pitch.  It’s the long beak that caught my attention. What is it? No clue.

It’s tough to get close in the mucky, low tide. Tough to focus in pre-twilight. I take the half-a**ed shot from way back, wary that if I get another 5 yards closer, she’s gone.

I approach.

Today, 757 consecutive (almost) days on my morning walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row. And I’m clopping in angle deep mud, hoping that I don’t sink to my knees. Don’t you dare bolt on me.

S: “So when did you become a Birder?” That was Wednesday, several days ago —  and it’s like cupping your hands to your mouth and yelling: So when did you become a Birder?…Birder…Birder…Birder….Birder…on repeat, the echoing Upstairs.

What she didn’t say, but it was back there: “So how long is this NEW obsession going to last.”  After 38 odd years, you sort of have each other figured out. 10 years ago, I would counterpunched: “Be nice if you found any sort of obsession to lock onto.” Instead, I smile, all grown up now. It’s really a strange feeling, this controlling yourself thing.  Destabilizing, really, this letting things go. Come on. Not really letting go. Just setting it in short term parking, and waiting, when the pressure is unbearable, and then release. And carnage.

So, it’s been an evolution —  Neanderthal, to some form of less-than-fully-evolved Homo Sapien.  Important to note that I didn’t say transformation. That would be taking this way too far.  What’s the saying: You need to recognize first that there’s a problem before you can get after curing it? So, let’s call this recognition an eking forward of evolution.  Or as Halldór Laxness would say:  “The result was that she felt herself constrained to declare that in life everything depended upon ones finding oneself.” And oh, I’m still searching.

Back to my Oystercatcher. (I googled it when I got home.)

I watch her, camera at my side. Still too dark to get a clean shot. And she sings. And sings.

I continue to approach, but I’m sinking deeper. This is getting treacherous.

She turns to me, watching me now.  I stop.

My Oystercatcher and me.

The world grows still.  The horrors of Uvalde, TX, abate. The horrors of Ukraine, and how it ends, and COVID, Omicron, Monkeypox, 90° F temperatures in May – – and how all this will end, all flutter to the back of things.

So when did you become a birder,” she asks.

I think about this a moment…staring at the Oystercatcher….this beautiful creature, this small “glint of (overwhelming) beauty”, and there it is.

Wrong question!

She asked the wrong question.

It should have been “Why did you become a birder?”

We’re all stuck on this often miserable earth where life is essentially tragic, but there are glints of beauty and bedrock joy that come shining through from time to precious time to remind anybody who cares to see that there is something higher and larger than ourselves. And I am not talking about your putrefying gods, I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself and the feeling that there is some redemptive factor you must at least search for until you drop dead of natural causes.”  —  Lester Bangs

I’ll remember this moment.


  • Photo: American Oystercatcher @ Daybreak. 5:12 am, May 28, 2022. 64° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More photos from this morning’s walk here.
  • Lester Bangs quote via Whiskey River


  1. I need that feeling this morning. I’m still reeling after Uvalde. I just can’t get it out of my mind. I look forward to the day when I hear the birds sing again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lovely, David – text and pics. I love how you ‘adopt’ birds!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have loved watching your evolving self and shall continue to do so as you share with us your whys, whats, whynots, enjoyments, birding, sunrising, tides, etc…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. (August 1983, here.. I get it!) Perhaps your birding is no obsession but rather, a passion. We’re all allowed as many moral passions as we can blessedly find in this vale — we need them so as to remain unarmed. Run, walk, bird (rejoice) onward.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Beautiful post, David. I can totally relate to this. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beautiful post and beautiful end quote, David. The news is so hard. Sandy Hook is less than 14 miles from us and it all came rushing back this week. I needed this reflection.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, I agree with “Under the mask.” I think a “passion” is a better description of it than “obsession.” And what a wonderfully fulfilling passion it can be.


  8. Finding something that excites and delights ( and does no harm) is a passion and a way to express oneself. It gives our souls the space to replenish and soar once more. Beautiful post DK!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such fun to have a front row seat on this evolution, pal. I get your fascination with birds. Was transfixed watching a mockingbird harassing a red-tailed hawk in one of our pines this morning. The hawk was obdurate, staring stonily ahead as the mockingbird swooped, divebombed, chided, even punched the hawk in the back, causing feathers to fly. I held my breath, hoping against hope that the littler bird’s desire to protect its nest didn’t cost it its life. Finally, after much bullying,the hawk shrugged and flew off. Couldn’t decide who I admired more…the little warrior or the stony giant who just held his peace and opted for another tree. Nature. Amazing. Full stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Christie says:

    Since the Sad topic has been in the topic of comments: I cried writing this. I Hate the violence…In the past 2 weeks, we’ve had a young person from the community enter a local high school grounds with a loaded gun, he was close to entering the building…thankfully he was stopped & apprehended before anything happened.His act brought forth to many the memories of /// The year before, Columbine…May 21st 1998, I remember the day well for several reasons…a local school shooting in which the shooter’s, parents (school teachers) who murdered by their son, who went on to school and killed two students and wounded 25 other students…Heartbreaking…the hospital was maybe 2 and 1/2 miles from my house…the lead trauma surgeon -such a talented surgeon and wonderful person- he’d saved my husband’s life 2 or 3 years before the school shooting…he’s operated on me, too…HE and the other surgeons, doctors, nurses and staff, firefighters, emt,,the clergy, the grief counselors, those who donated blood…Etc…the prayers that went up by the community members all contributed to saving so many lives that day…The 15 year old, shooter who has an older sister who keeps in contact with him…His horrifying act…impacts the community, the country and the world…and still the troubled teenagers around the USA continue to Act with Premeditation… and the Innocent Die…I know that the head trauma surgeon and his family befriended one of the victims who’s life he saved, he became part of the family…another victim has been close with another doctor as well…I knew the physiologist (named in the paper) who had contact with the shooters family previous to the shooting…I sat next to one of the teenage girl victims- at the county fair the next summer…we were stitching on a quilt and started chatting…she found it safe and easy to talk with me…she mentioned how she was at the lunch table where Others where shot…it was either her or the girl next to her who was shot in the elbow…she witnessed other being shot, she was lucky not to be shot though she was so traumatized…I listened and I told her some comforting things and encouraged her, that she should talk to a professional -some more- the school and the community have free outreach for those victims…she was suffering and trying to stay so strong…she was suffering of course from PTSD…I’ve often wondered how she is doing…May I asked that any of you who read this, keep the victim who is now a woman & the other victims…in your prayers…I will never forget visiting the site, leaving flowers and the people all there to pay their respects…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Christie says:

    Thank you so much for Sharing the Beauty of Nature with your public!!! DK so Glad you are a “Birder”! I suspect that Susan is as well….”I am talking about a sense of wonder about life itself” An evolution…for sure for You and for your readers…we are all the better for your lovely shares…///When we’re dating and then as newlyweds we traveled on most Sunday evening to a local community center…an older man shared his slide shows of his “Birding” adventures…his photos were great and his narration informative…we’ve considered ourselves “Birders” for a long time…as a little girl I was told if I could sprinkle salt on the tail of a Robin It would be my Bird!!! I tried so hard to catch a Robin 🙂 I would cry and have a stern talk when my big Tom Boy Cat, Mittens would kill a Bird…he even killed a few Crows…I must of been 7 years old…///and my dear husband has called me “The Wonder Girl” for decades…sometimes just hey, “Wonder” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Anonymous says:

    What on earth does “become a birder” mean? If you see birds, you see life around you…no need to become anything, to look at, and then look some more, and grow intrigued. Isn’t that part of our lives? Do we become a tree person, a nature person? Or, are we blessed to have access? I’m reminded of the story of a prisoner who adopted a bird who would come to visit him through his barred window–the highlight of his existence. Back to your post, I love joining you in the muck, and hoping the duck won’t bolt.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It’s so exciting when we discover we have control over what we think, do and say! It will Always be challenge for us humans. And I’m calling it a transformation DK ha 👏🤗👏

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m late…but can’t let this go…you offer your own take on Tippet’s “On Becoming” – and yours my friend, resonates. Whatever has brought you to this moment, the cove welcomes you, as do we who get to read of your mornings.

    Liked by 1 person

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