One of the things I love most about these sustained deep freezes is my neighbor Jeff Stevens and I have a tradition of going for a walk across Greenwich Cove when the ice permits.
The Cove – the EG Riviera, as locals sometimes call it because of the confluence of working waterfront, high end bars and yacht clubs with a forested state park on the other side – might just be the stillest water on Narragansett Bay. Hence the best place for ice. It’s only a about a mile long and never more than a 1,000 yards across and I don’t know any part of it to be more than 10 or 12 feet deep.
This little spit of water hidden by Goddard Park freezes hard. As recently as 1979, according to Ray Huling’s “Harvesting the Bay” shellfishermen cut through the ice with chainsaws, under DEM supervision, to rake up the quahogs from beneath the frozen surface.
On Friday, I tweeted that it was getting solid. Stevens wrote back, “Fools rush in.” Prophetic, in that by Sunday morning we headed down to the town dock to walk across the water.
The ice could hardly have been more solid. Jeff jumped right from the dock onto the snow-covered Cove and its ice budged not at all. It was plenty cold enough to keep the brackish water solid. In fact, my iPhone froze after just one crummy picture!
We headed south towards the mouth of the Maskerchugg River when Jeff pointed out to me when he at first thought was a hawk. Then he said, “wait a minute.” And I chimed in with, “Is that a…??”
We both knew it was. A bald eagle. The avian symbol of our nation has returned to Rhode Island, and a specimen was flying over our tiny little corner of Narragansett Bay.
Bald eagles, once completely gone from the northeast, are actually being seen all over the Ocean State recently. The Sierra Club had an outing to East Providence to eagle spot today, and I saw a picture of a bald eagle (perhaps the same one Jeff and I saw) on Hundred Acre Pond in Barrington.
They have been spotted in Scituate, Tiverton and even Warwick. Last winter, I just missed seeing one at Trustom Pond near Matunuck.
If you’re going to be a bird in Rhode Island, there are plenty worse places to do so than Greenwich Cove. There are a gorgeous variety of ducks this time of year and both Jeff and I see the same couple hawks almost every day, along with almost every other kind of bird that enjoys salt water and dense forests (though I have never seen any owls here, disappointingly enough). The Cove is overrun with ospreys and kingfishers in the summer – and we even saw one of the latter today!
When Jeff and I got off the water and were walking back up towards his side door, I saw this guy fly into a tree in his yard. Jeff thinks it is a Cooper’s hawk, but I’m not so sure. He was hardly bigger than a blue jay!
Then we went inside, stoked up his wood stove and made a pot of coffee.
From his kitchen window, we watched our third raptor of the morning – one of the neighborhood red tail hawks – sit in a tree in the Stevens’ back yard for about an hour as we warmed up by the fire.