Saturday, April 16, 2011

Opening Day and a Murder of Fish Crows

Striped Bass - locally known as Rockfish

The month of April is marked by several significant events. One is tax day. We were granted three extra days this year, so it falls on Monday, April 18th. I finished mine yesterday for good measure - just in case the government was pulling one over on us - late April fool's. Then there's Easter, which moves around to make life interesting, and this year is very late - not until next week. Finally, and frankly most significantly of all in this household, is Opening Day for Trophy Rockfish season. It is just about as sacred a day as any in my husband's book, and usually, we are all mobilized, out of the house, and on the water before dawn seeking out stripers.

This year, however, my husband has work obligations that are keeping him in the office as opposed to on the Bay, and he is none too happy about it. The only consolation for him is that a wicked storm is bearing down on the area that will make trolling for rockfish a colossal pain (not that we wish that on the other fishermen/women out there, - just makes him feel better that he can't be out). I saw my neighbor head out early, and another friend put his boat in at the community ramp late last night and left it at our dock so he could get a start before daybreak. My husband is living vicariously through them.

Despite being at work, my husband texted me at 9 AM to report that it was already blowing 16 at Thomas Point and would be 25 - 30 by 11 AM. At 10 AM, he updated me that it was gusting up to 40. He's been out in worse, but it doesn't make for a fun day - better than being in the office, but a workout. Looks like the best bet today was to get out and back early before it got snotty (to use my husband's jargon). I hope all of you who braved it stayed safe, found some fish, kept what you could, and gently released what you couldn't so we can catch them another day. For those who are waiting for fairer seas and skies tomorrow, good luck to you. Send photos of your biggest, loveliest rockfish to:
and I will post them on the blog photo page and on the Cape Blogger Facebook page - or you can post them there yourself. If you're so inclined, feel free to share where you caught them and what you were pulling. My husband would be much obliged...

As for the murder of crows, I posted a while back about a flock of what looked like crows in my yard (A Murder of Crows!). I'm still not entirely sure what they were, but they were too small for American Crows. This morning, I heard a ruckus outside and went to investigate. I spied a small flock of large black birds in a tree at the end of our yard. They had a very distinct call that I did not recognize as the typical caw'ing of crows, but they certainly looked like crows - bigger than the ones I saw earlier in the year, but still not the size of American Crows. Here is a video of the cacophony:

I came back inside and pulled out my new favorite toy - my bird call book. It has pictures of birds and recordings of all of their calls. I flipped to the section about crows and started playing the calls of any that inhabit this part of the country. When I got to the Fish Crow, I knew I had my bird. And how appropriate for Opening Day! Even the birds know that fishing season is underway! Here's the Audubon Society's picture of a Fish Crow.

Audubon Society Drawing of Fish Crow

I was not familiar with the Fish Crow although I'm sure they've been frequenting my yard for more years than I've been here. Now that I know their call, I won't mistake them again. It's very distinct. Here's a video of the picture in my book along with the recorded call:

What do you think? Fish Crow? Sounds right to me. The book says they are smaller than the American Crow with a different voice. Also a good fit.

Here's hoping all you fisherfolk and fish crows found what you were looking for today in the nasty weather. I think perhaps we were spared the worst of what is passing through the deep south in the way of tornadoes and thunderstorms, although I'm hearing some loud rumbles now. Any of you with boats at the marinas, the water is pretty high - skimming the tops of the piers. My parents in South Carolina report VERY strong winds down their way, and they have cleared out the closet under the stairs of their civil war era farmhouse to ride out anything rough. It has good bones and should protect them from whatever comes their way. They weren't sure if the dog would fit.  I told them to take a deep breath and squeeze him in. Otherwise Rocky might end up in Oz...

1 comment:

Papa said...

Those be crows, Matey. A little shorter and a little higher pitched than those on the Farm, but a caw is a caw. The storm is past, it ain't Kansas and Rocky survived.