The Cove Journal
by JoDee Samuelson
We had coffee down at the Cove this morning, and guess what: the Iceberg’s still there. It never left. I suppose it read The Buzz last month and decided that it would never get this much attention again, so why not stay. I understand that it plans to camp here all summer. My apologies for suggesting otherwise.
Today on our morning walk we observed that, right on time, the Great Blue Herons have returned to grace the Cove with their silent watchful presence. Not long ago, the scenic drive around Queen’s County was named “Blue Heron Drive.” Now it’s called “Central Coastal Route.” (An improvement? You decide.) Fortunately, the name change is not the result of the Great Blue Heron becoming extinct. Although they must feel the pressure of human presence in their nesting and feeding grounds, they are still plentiful, and not just in Queen’s County, but all along our coastline.
Great Blue Herons spend their winters leisurely enjoying the finer things of life in southern USA, the Caribbean, and Central America. When they head back to the Island in April, they cruise night and day at speeds of 32–48 km/h, in private groups of three or four; or there may be as many as one hundred individuals in the Super Deluxe Migration Express, complete with tour guide and running commentary.
Once back on the Island, Great Blue Herons choose an available condo at the heron colony—on Governor’s Island, for example. They take over and repair old nests, or build new ones (one metre in diameter); go through a short but meaningful dating period; and proceed to make babies. The pale blue eggs—a half dozen or so—are incubated for twenty-eight days by both mother and father, Dad sitting on them in the daytime, Mom at night. Once hatched, the chicks voraciously consume all the regurgitated goodies that both parents can stuff down their throats. After ten weeks this noisy, messy business comes to an end, and the little Great Blue Herons leave the nest for good. Somehow along the way they have learned to spear and gulp down small fish, reptiles, mice, and insects.
We don’t want to talk about how Great Blue Herons leave the Island in early autumn, because we want to think about how they’re here now! And it’s spring! In the Cove we’ve already started planning for our annual Perennial Sale at the park, which is a huge amount of work, but oh, so satisfying, nevertheless. If you need daylilies, dahlias, or daisies, rudbeckia, ranunculus, or rosemary, sweet william, sage, or sassafras: we might have it, or it might be sold out. First come, first served. That goes for the hot cinnamon rolls too.
A bonus of our Perennial Sale is the location: capes, clouds, sand bars, sunshine, gulls, Great Blue Herons…and, possibly even, the You-Know-What. If it’s still there, don’t blame me.