Posts Tagged ‘terry tempest williams’

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese     

The long-billed curlew — Wikimedia photo by Jerry Kirkhart

AKA the Candlestick Bird

It was a June Day in 1998 and photographer Kurt Duce and I were on the unpaved, closed to the public, south causeway to Antelope Island. We had permission to four-wheel it on the rough passage because I was doing a series of newspaper articles on Great Salt Lake.

Long-billed curlew_– Wikimedia photo by Frank Schulenburg.

Since the road was rarely driven, a pair of long-billed curlews had built their nest right beside the one-lane passage. We stopped and got out for a better look, and several young chicks began and skittering to and fro in front of us. It was a great opportunity for me to quietly observe with my notebook in hand, and for Kort to get some rare photographs of this large shorebird and young.

We weren’t out of the car for more than about 30 seconds, however, when the two parents began dive-bombing us. It took off Kort’s hat with one pass. In less than 30 seconds the two of us were both back in our vehicle. I dare say you would have ducked for cover, too, if you got a close-up look at this bird’s wicked bill.

But it was one of those remembered moments that claim a prominent place in the file cabinets of my brain.

According to Wikipedia, the long-billed curlew was once known as the candlestick bird, and Candlestick Park and Candlestick Point in San Francisco, where these birds once inhabited, were named after this bird, which, however, disappeared from this landscape in the early 1900s.

Thankfully, however, it found other habitat and is currently not in danger of becoming extinct, as did its cousin, the Eskimo curlew, which has not been seen in over 30 years.

Serendipitously, a short time after I was dive-bombed by the angry bird parents, I heard a talk by author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams,  who remarked: “I can’t help but believe that as long as the world supports the life of the long-billed curlew, we can be supported, too.”

I certainly agree.

Bean Pat: Watch a YouTube video of a long-billed curlew at https://tinyurl.com/y9tzvygf

         Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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 “Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.” – Terry Tempest Williams

Travels With Maggie

Yellow-headed blackbirds are common sights at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. -- Photo by Pat Beans

I first visited the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge east of the Great Salt Lake in Northern Utah in the 1970s. It was lush with vegetation and full of twittering birds.

Then came the early 1980s, when the lake reached a historical high and its briny waters took out roads, causeways and buried the refuge. It killed all the sanctuary’s green-growing plants and took out the visitor center as a warning of Mother Nature’s fickleness. .

It took a long time for the refuge to recharge itself, a period in which Terry Tempest Williams wrote “Refuge,” a book published in 1991 that was written when Williams’ mother was dying. The book weaves the landscape of the refuge and nature into a tangled web with the author’s struggle to come to grips with her own life. A very good read, in case you’re interested.

Another common refuge inhabitant is the snowy egret. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Since both the refuge and I existed at that time in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains, the refuge drew me to it – often. I enjoyed its quiet sanctuary from the chaotic and stressful world of journalism, and also wrote about the refuge’s recovery for my newspaper readers.

I still vividly remember the first green-growing thing that returned. It was pickleweed, a salt loving plant that would help heal the soil for other plants. Those tiny nubs of green poking up seemed like a miracle.

Today, the refuge,is once again lush and a thriving habitat for birds and other wildlife. It’s there for anyone willing to endure a drive down a 10-mile, bumpy unpaved road from Interstate 15.

Maggie and I’ve driven the slow-going, rough miles several times in Gypsy Lee, who shakes, rattles and rolls over the bumpier spots. She’s used to such detours, however, and so far has not complained.

For those less passionate nature lovers, there is now a new Visitor’s Center just a few hundred yards off the freeway. It was built there instead of on the refuge proper just in case Mother Nature decided to get a wild hair again.

It’s really a nice center, with a created wetlands through which a boardwalk winds to give visitors a chance to see Mother Nature at her best. If you’re ever in Northern Utah, you might like to check it out. Perhaps you’d even like to take the 10-mile bumpy drive.

Bean’s Pat: Travel Photography: Most Unexpected Rainbow http://tinyurl.com/867pogm Have you ever seen a full rainbow? I haven’t. But this photographer did.

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