Good morning and greetings, sports fans. Well, summer is in full swing as the dreaded June gloom is history. We now cruise into the fruits of July, which I believe are honeydew melon and the extra sweet tuscan cantaloupe. I usually like to start out the changing of the calendar with some spectacular color, but today we are going a different route, you might say, the road once taken. This is not to be confused with Bobby Frost’s the road not taken, which includes law school, medical school and traffic school. In the words of former Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, “When you arrive at the fork in the road, take it.”
I was going to blog out these sleek-bodied, sea birds nesting along West Cliff Drive back in June, but I realized that I had posted something very similar last year at around this time and the Hemingway in me said, “been there, done that.” I wanted something “fresh, exciting, so inviting to me” to kick off the July fireworks but then fate intervened.
I had taken a week off from my oceanfront activities to work on my doctorate and when I returned last week, I was in for a shock. Where there had once been over a couple dozen cormorants sitting on nests along with their mates, now there were none. The edge of the cliff was as deserted as a South Carolina Governor’s Award dinner. This was a eerie site, and I’m not talking Pennsylvania, as I had seen no eggs and certainly no young ones. I first thought that perhaps some unruly hooligans had come and scared them off. Either way, in the words of the group Spirit, “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong.”
Soon after making this unsettling discovery and ran into the most rabid of PCS basketball fans, Janet Burton, who informed me that last week she saw the cormorants “shredding and tearing up their nests.” My first thought was, was Janet hearing those voices again or were these Brandt’s cormorants not getting enough food and had to move on? Or perhaps it was the city’s upcoming budget cuts, the new revelations about the dangers of red meat or the mass confusion involving Michael Jackson’s estate. In the King of Pop’s words, “ABC, it’s easy as 123, doe re mi, that’s how easy wills can be.”
Just across the way that there were still cormorants sitting on nests, enjoying the incredible ocean view, which made this situation even more confusing. It was really quite disturbing, even more so than when McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. Coincidentally, before they departed, the cormorants claimed they could also see Russia from their perch.
So let’s take a look at what we’ve got photo wise. As you see in the first shot, these black beauties have selected an gorgeous spot to raise their young. The male cormorant chooses the nest site, puts down first and last month’s rent and then attracts a female to it. Once paired in e-bird harmony, they build a circular nest on the ground made of seaweed, algae, grass, meth, sticks and stones along with names that will never hurt me. The male gathers the nest material, the female then builds the nest as the male then goes off to drink beer and watch “Baseball Tonight.”
Both the male and female incubate the eggs and both regurgitate food for their young, which is something I never got used to my parents doing. When the babies are born they are naked and helpless, which could also describe how a took my driver’s test and my years spent in the Peace Corps.
Over 3/4 of the world’s Brandt Cormorants reside in California, with most having second homes in either Tahoe or Plam Springs. Despite the high cost of housing, the largest numbers are found here on the central coast. June and July are usually the times when the reptilian-looking babies are born, so the fact that they are cleared out faster than supporters of Elliot Spitzer makes this even more of a mystery. I checked back a couple of mornings ago and the cliff was as empty as the stands at a Pittsburgh Pirate’s game. I vow to you, my cyber readers, that I will continue to search for the answers, and will not rest until I have uncovered the truth. Either that, or I will just make something up. That is my promise.
The late night boys are in reruns this week so we’ll go with a joke for a humor segment. Two ropes walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out of here. We don’t serve ropes in here.” The ropes go outside and one says to the other, “I have an idea.” He ties himself up, messes up his hair and goes back in. The bartender says, “Hey. No ropes.” The rope says, “I’m not a rope.” The bartender says, “You’re not a rope?” “Nope. I’m a frayed knot.”
You might want to worry, because there’s a lot more where that came from. Reports from Costa Rica tell me that Aimee’s camera broke on her second day but I’m sure she’ll come up with something for the guest blog. She’s an excellent sketcher. And Jason says he is speaking more Spanish than you’d hear at a Pau Gasol family reunion. Sources tell me they may try to squeeze in a few days in Honduras. That would be a real coup.
So that’s our report from the edge of the continent. Hope you enjoyed the holiday weekend and took a moment to think about what we were celebrating-that’s right, the invention of the barbecue. Which I believe was done soon after they signed the Declaration of Fireworks. We’ll catch you at center court at Wimbledon. Aloha, mahalo and later, Roger Federer and Andy Roddick fans.