The first Laughing Gull made his presence known. A softer version of his voice made something between a wheeze and a whine, again and again. He hovered in flight and then gently alit on top of the finger pier piling. With his black head cocked back, raising his beak skyward, he called repeatedly until his mate obeyed and fluttered down to perch beside him. They stood so closely together, the new arrival’s left wing draped over the back of her mate as if she were giving him an early morning caress. Their black feet and backwards-bending knees folded under them. They nestled down together, cooing, touching their beaks together intimately.
Movement off the stern caught my eye. A pair of Spotted Eagle Rays was circling the marina basin. Modest flashes of grey-white underbodies were exposed as wings rippled to maintain forward motion. As frigate birds coast the high altitude air currents, the rays drifted in silent, lazy circles under the sea. I got into my dinghy and drifted over them with my “lookie bucket”. That wasn’t enough. I donned snorkel and fins and got right into the water. I had a great view of the beaked faces, the fanned caudal fins and their amazingly long, thin, black tails. Their tails were 8 to 10 feet long! It was the distinctive patterning on their backs that accurately identified them: grey circles within circles over a black background.
Low murmuring voices across the marina were suddenly lost in the roar of a low-flying plane—a very low, strafing run by a WWII vintage plane. What a show!
Wow! A bright yellow, single prop, overhead-canopied, 2-man plane banked sharply over my head.
Wow again! Wow! A shiny red one, just like the first.
Oh my goodness!! A third, brown, black and orange. It roared past in low-level fly-by. Okay, now I was really awake.
Liz’s account of her front row seat for dawn’s serene performance (written for The Stories You’ll Tell) had encouraged me to rise and experience the early morning for myself. One never knows what is just waiting to be discovered if one is open, awake and aware enough to see