it’s nowhere near over

9.7.21 ~ Eastern Point
double-crested cormorant on the rocks

Another nice day Tuesday. After Labor Day the beach is “closed.” No lifeguards, concession stand or restrooms open. Fewer people to navigate through. Great for a morning walk. Got closer to a cormorant than I’ve ever been before, but as luck would have it, the sun was behind him and he came out as mostly a silhouette.

ring-billed gull on the rocks
immature male common eiders in the estuary

The gift for this morning was spotting four immature male common eiders hanging out in the estuary. I’ve only seen a female common eider once, last summer. New England is in the southernmost part of their range. I was enchanted.

A bird of the cold north with a warm reputation, the Common Eider is famous for the insulating quality of its down (typically harvested from nests without harming the birds). Breeding males are sharp white and black, with pistachio green accents on the neck. Females are barred with warm brown and black. These largest of all Northern Hemisphere ducks gather along rocky ocean shores, diving for mussels and other shellfish, which they pry from rocks using long, chisel-like bills. Males court females throughout the year with gentle, crooning calls.
~ All About Birds website

monarch butterfly on the lawn

The coronavirus pandemic rages on, surging especially among the unvaccinated. But the fully vaccinated are getting sick, too, which gave us pause and led to our postponing our trip to North Carolina to see our grandchildren until we can get our third dose of vaccine. We don’t even want to get the “mild” version of COVID-19. We’re back to wearing double masks in the grocery store. And because we’re super cautious we stopped going inside anywhere else. Avoiding crowded outdoor places, too. Masks at the farmers market.

My sister reports from Connecticut College that on Monday, 20 students who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and some of their friends were tested. Through contact tracing, it was determined that the students who had contracted the virus had been socializing without masks in cars, in friends’ rooms or apartments, at parties or in bars. Tuesday morning the test results showed an additional 34 students had tested positive. All were moved to isolation housing.

double-crested cormorant in the river

Connecticut College requires all students and staff to be fully vaccinated (and to wear masks indoors) so these are breakthrough cases. Beverly spent one week with us but is now teaching remotely from her home and probably won’t be back here for the semester. 🙁 I’m just glad we were able to see each other a few times this summer before this new social distancing period seems prudent. Sigh.

It’s been a while since I’ve made note of our local coronavirus statistics. We have had 3,014 detected cases in our town. Connecticut has had 376,747 confirmed cases and 8,395 deaths. We’re coming close to the 8,500 number of estimated deaths we had in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. On September 8th we had 403 new cases. Overall, 2,368,830 people or 66% of Connecticut’s population has been fully vaccinated.

driftwood caught in the rocks

And now CNN is reporting that 1 in 4 new cases of COVID-19 are in children.

summer’s end

It’s nowhere near over.

Update: As of Thursday 107 students have now tested positive. Many are going home instead of quarantining on campus. Seems like that would not help to contain the spread.

30 thoughts on “it’s nowhere near over”

  1. Oh dear. The breakthrough cases at Connecticut College are disturbing. NO, it’s not over yet. So disappointing. But you capture beautiful nature and her beings so well here. Also, I like the idea of our mate crooning to us throughout the year. 🙂

    1. The saving grace of this endless pandemic, for me, has been the freedom from anxiety I’ve been able to experience regularly out in the natural world, encountering so often those beings. And spending more time with my own mate than I ever have in previous times. 🙂

      1. Same with me. Even those days I can’t get out, staring out our back deck door at the birds at our suet feeder. Just yesterday I watched a huge flicker feed her baby flicker (which even the baby was bigger than most woodpeckers, and still gray without the adult colors yet). Anyway, see how excited I get? :-0 Oh, and thank goodness we still love our mate and get along even better with all of this “together” time. 🙂

        1. I get that excitement you feel, Pam! 🙂 I don’t know what I’d do without my bird visitors or my mate. I once watched a hapless starling mother feeding her greedy babies who were bigger and louder than her. Such impatience! We humans aren’t the only exhausted parents. 😉 We can feel fortunate and blessed to have so much of the natural world so close at hand in our own back yards.

  2. This coronavirus isn’t going away gracefully, is it? Perhaps if we’d ALL gotten vaccinated and adhered to the usual directives (distancing, masks, hand-washing, etc.) for six weeks or so at the very beginning, maybe we’d beat it down. Or maybe not, who knows? Beautiful Monarch, and I have to admit I’d hate being a bird having to woo a mate all year long!

    1. The coronavirus has definitely gotten the better of us. It’s so frustrating! If only we had… But looking back isn’t helpful and we have to figure out where to go from here. I’m afraid Mother Nature has a few more lessons to teach us along the way. It’s true, some kinds of birds put a lot of effort into trying to impress the opposite sex, often to no avail! Got to love those nature programs on TV.

    1. And it’s time for flu shots again… It was nice last winter in one respect, we never caught a cold! Nature is my comfort, too. Do you have common eiders in your area, Eliza? You stay safe, too!

        1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black duck around here. Saw some of the eiders again yesterday but this time they were too far away to photograph…

  3. Beautiful pictures, horrifying stats. Even double masked the grocery terrifies me. Tennessee is battling Florida on how to not act in a pandemic.

    Yesterday I was listening to Bruce Springsteen’s show on his Sirius channel. He called this time of year “the end of all that is good.” Then there is John Prine’s “Summer’s End.” I hate we lost him to COVID.

    1. Thank you, Sarah. Your comment led me to check out the official video of “Summer’s End.” The lyrics, “in your car the windows are wide open” made me remember driving on summer vacations with the kids before we had a car with air conditioning. 🙂 Love John Prine, such a terrible loss of an amazing troubadour. I love “I Remember Everything,” too.

      1. I’m so glad you saw the video. The song came on the radio on my drive home the other day. Prime had such a way of tapping into that sad, lonely hole in each of us. Terrible loss of a amazing talent. I hope when he got to Heaven he got his cigarette that is nine-feet-long.

  4. It is so discouraging listening and reading the stats Barbara. We are going up, up and up and the vaccine controversy rages on. Perhaps the mandate that is to be instituted will help out. The cormorant is silhouette is better than a cormorant photo as it shows off that unusual hooked bill. I love the seagull bowing its head. I have never seen eiders before. How unusual and how lucky you were. I like the music by John Prine … thank you for sharing it.

    1. You’re welcome, Linda. I’m glad you liked the bird pictures — I never know what to expect when I go down to the beach. Yesterday we went but it was so windy I couldn’t hold the camera still and all pictures came out fuzzy. Oh well. It was fun to see the waves from Hurricane Larry, small by most standards but big for our little beach on Long Island Sound. More people are dying from COVID-19 every two days than died on 9/11 and yet we can’t seem to find the unity we had then. It’s tragic.

      1. I did enjoy seeing them. I think this year has been worse than last year Barbara in terms of attitude. People at least masked up last year and took precautions. Now it is the opposite and that poor gentleman who passed away after 43 hospitals could not take him. Very sad for his family. What news headlines are not scary about COVID, it is scary about the weather. Thankfully Hurricane Larry will stay small. We have severe weather in our forecast again tomorrow – day after day and I just hope Fall brings relief!

        1. Sigh… They now have 173 positive cases at Connecticut College and the students are in outright rebellion against all the restrictions. I was reading some of their comments on a petition and was astonished at how self-centered their reasoning is. (We got vaccinated, why should we have to do anything else to protect the community?) Meanwhile, many of the faculty with younger children at home are terrified of bringing COVID home with them, knowing they can pick it up and transmit it in spite of being vaccinated. A state-wide survey was taken here, 1/3 of teachers are considering a career change because they don’t feel safe. These are tense, uncertain times we are living in.

          1. I shouldn’t be amazed at anything people say anymore in conjunction with this pandemic. I heard students at high school, not even college, when they started school last week. Whining that not having seen their friends’ faces in almost two years and now having to wear a mask is infringing on their rights. I’d be curious if that is their own thinking or their parents’ thinking. A few of the high school students were interviewed and such a blasé attitude toward getting in trouble and being sent home for removing it. I don’t blame teachers for changing their occupations. I am exasperated with these people. I heard this factoid earlier today on my radio station: “A study found more than 280,000 COVID hospitalizations this past summer could have been prevented by vaccinations.” If it isn’t COVID stats, it’s weather stats – tonight we are having severe weather once again. It is moving toward us, hot and humid all day, so I’m hoping it diminishes now that it is near dusk. This is our 18th or 19th severe storm this Summer!

          2. I share your feelings of exasperation! Some people are more concerned about their perceived individual rights and spare no consideration at all for community responsibilities. This morning I heard that 28% of the people hospitalized with COVID in Connecticut right now have been fully vaccinated. So when they say being vaccinated protects your from severe illness that doesn’t seem to be holding up. If my sister gets COVID from her students I will be devastated. Stay safe during those storms, Linda! Every night I look at the national weather map during the news to see what kind of weather you’re having. Looks like the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a colder and more snowy than usual winter for us. Sigh…

  5. Barbara, on the previous post you wrote “Sadly, though, we humans are a cancerous growth on this beleaguered planet”. I have thought this for years but could not say out loud! Sadly enough, truth you tell.

    I love the (nose) been on the Common Eider! Resembles my family on my mother’s side. We don’t have that type of duck here, so I very much enjoyed learning about them.

    This week’s unusual siting in my backyard were several yellow breasted birds camouflaged in the fall yellow leaves of an 80 ish old hackberry tree in my neighbor’s backyard as I was enjoying the sunset time of day from my back patio. Not sure what the birds are named. I used your website reference pulling up the bird call to listen which really excited Yorkie! Her ears were perked and listened with extreme interest. That was the joy in my day!

    We have had a nice end of summer week with high temps and sunshine. Now we are at the peak of hurricane season as another begins to form. Too soon to know yet, but rains begin on Sunday… I was thinking the other day if a category six was possible. Climate change is something that I do recognize. Along with so many other changes.

    I am remembering where I was and those loved ones who I was in close communications with on nine eleven. So much in twenty years! Are we safer today than we were then was a question on the news line this evening. My thoughts and feelings to that question is “definitely No”. Any thoughts? I certainly hope hurricanes stay at bay.

    Enjoying your photos and post conversations.

    1. It’s a very sad truth, isn’t it?

      The shape of the eider’s beak is very unique. It’s funny how often birds remind us of people. 🙂 I enjoyed reading about how interested Yorkie was to hear the recorded bird calls. 🙂

      I’m with you, I don’t feel safer after these 20 years. Between the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis it seems my life is governed by fear. Lately I’ve been listening to an audiobook, “The Places That Scare You” by Pema Chödrön. It’s helping me to find my center again…

  6. Sigh, yes, it’s hard to see that the virus isn’t leaving us anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what this fall brings. Maybe interesting isn’t the right word. Sad. Your photos show the joy of the natural world, the freedom of open spaces. Many blessings to you and your family. May you see your loved ones again soon.

    1. We’re getting so much practice living with uncertainty, aren’t we, Kathy? It’s been a roller coaster ride and looks like it will continue to be so for some time to come. Just wish we could get off the ride! Thank you for your well wishes, Kathy. We had a very long video call with the little ones last night. The new normal…

        1. That’s how I’m trying to look at it. The wisdom in Joan’s book, “Nothing to Grasp” keeps coming to mind… when we accept that there’s nothing to grasp it’s easier to let go…

  7. I love your sighting and photos of the Common Eiders, Barbara! We get to see them along the ocean coastlines outside the inlet in Ocean City, Maryland during the winter. I’ve gotten photos but they have always been at a distance for me, so your photos are a joy to see them up so close and personal! Fabulous!

    1. Thank you, Donna! A few days later I saw them again but it was too windy and they were too far away to get any more good pictures, though I tried. 😉 I didn’t know they could be found as far south as Maryland. Not all the range maps I’ve looked at seem to agree with each other. Nice to know you’ve seen them down there.

        1. Those beaks are so distinctive. I hope they stick around for the winter and make my little trips to the beach more interesting… Will look for them out in the sound, too.

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