The last days on Calf

In total I spent sixty days on Calf Island this summer. We finally shoved off, in good spirits, in early August. To be fair, part of our good spirits was the sort of elation you only get from escaping what could have been a rough experience. As it happened, the final moments on the island were unexpectedly tense, as the retreating tide threatened to strand our beached boat high and dry. Since we’d already boarded up our eratz-home and taken most of our gear off the island, we would have been in for a rough night had we not — in a fit of hulkish desperation — half-lifted and half-dragged our (not exactly small) boat back into the water. After getting our breath back, wringing out clothes out (there was no way to stay even remotely dry), and letting our spines unkink themselves, we pushed off for the final time and zoomed off.

At full throttle, our fully loaded boat barely outpaced nearby kayakers (I barely kid)

Despite Calf’s final attempt to keep us as prisoners guests for another twelve hours (or until we gave up and decided to swim for shore), I think that the Calf Island part of my summer went quite well. Working in a somewhat isolated environment was, as always, a good time, I was able to devote some serious time to honing my bird identification skills, and after a summer living on Calf I’ll never complain about mosquitoes again. Ever. As we learned the hard way, there are two types of mosquitoes on Calf Island. If memory serves (and I may be wrong here, someone correct me if I am) the diurnal species of mosquito on the island bred in fresh water and had striped legs. The nocturnal species bred in salt water and had legs bereft of stripes.

Not that it really mattered, they could both bite through two layers of clothing and didn’t seem to care how much deet we slathered ourselves with. By the end of the summer it seemed like I no longer swelled up when bitten. Either my bodies reaction to it had been suppressed by over exposure, or (more likely) I’d just stopped noticing it.

This Salt-Marsh was pretty much full of mosquitoes. The one time I bothered counting how many I killed I swatted 30 in 10 minutes.

Happily, before I shipped out my family braved the bloodsucker-apocalypse to visit me. After taking their lives in their own hands and kayaking across the motorboat channel they spent the day hiking around the island and experiencing a bit of what the place I lived in had to offer.

Note my head net and my mother’s conspicuous lack of one.

Ok, so I don’t look so great in this picture. To be fair though, I’d been living on an island where the closest this to a long shower involved thunder and lightning.

It was great to be able to show them a bit of what I do in my day to day. Even if they all did go home itching like crazy.

Next up: More adventures at Stewart B. McKinney

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Posted on September 25, 2012, in Stewart B. McKinney NWR and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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