Friday’s Birding/Dante’s Prayer

I had tried to schedule an early MTA pickup in Mendocino for Friday. I received a call from Jeff Beard, the north coast supervisor, that because it was the day after Thanksgiving it would be 6:30AM instead of 7:00AM. He explained that many years ago the employees had given up Veteran’s Day Holiday in exchange for the day after Thanksgiving. The CC Rider (bus to Santa Rosa) was the only bus operating for the day. That would mean that I wouldn’t get back to Mendocino until somewhere around 7:00PM. I decided to cancel that trip and do something local. Navarro Point was something local and I could continue my sea watch for alcids. Thanks to the Mendocino Land Trust, Navarro Point exists. 

View from one of the many lookouts at Navarro Point.

I set up my scope from what I thought would be a lonely lookout point. While scoping for sea birds I would lookup to find out that I had company. At least three groups of people at different times came all the way out to my point to check on what I was watching. This is an interesting phenomenon that happens to birders all the time. Find a place, get out the binoculars or scope, and the people will come. Another interesting thing was that two of the groups were from Washington D.C. and were not connected. All were “after” Thanksgiving family outtings. After they left I was finally able to get my scope on a sea bird. I tried really hard to turn it into an alcid but it just wasn’t acting like one. It wasn’t diving and was picking at food on the surface. I soon realized that it was a Red Phalarope. Red Phalarope is a “year” bird so I wasn’t too disappointed. Normally we find them on our pelagic trips but since the Fall trip had been canceled I wasn’t expecting to get one this year. Seeing one from the shore is rare. 

I walked a little south along the bluff to a bench that I knew was there.

The Mendocino Land Trust website explains that this is, “The Deborah Bove Memorial Bench is located near the southern portion of Navarro Point along the trail. This is a unique wormwood bench and memorial stone honoring the life of Deborah Bove, who was a former California Coastal Commission employee who dedicated much of her life to coastal access and preservation. This bench is a favorite spot for whale watching, bird watching and enjoying sunsets.”

I guess I’m a curious kind of guy. I googled the words on the stone and found out that they are part of the lyrics to Dante’s Prayer by Loreena Mckennitt. If you are interested in the rest of the lyrics and a video of Loreena Mckennitt singing them read to the end of the post.

I decided to move up the coast to the Mendocino Headlands again for a brief look from the bluffs. As you know from reading about Thursday’s birding I didn’t find anything new except for my Black Oystercatcher rock. I found 5 Red Phalaropes. There must be some sort of Red Phalarope invasion going on. They were close enough to shore to get a usable picture.

I have finally moved on to 247 birds seen with over 2810 carbon producing truck miles saved.


The lyrics to Dante’s Prayer are:

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me

 Enjoy the video. 

Edited 6/7/14: Sorry about the video. 



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