Saturday, July 4, 2009

More things with wings.

Following yesterday's wing-bearing post, more wings:

We went to the Olympic Speed-skating Oval today. My wife and daughter went inside to attend a program. Son and I were happy to stay outside. The oval is on the south bank of the Middle Arm of the Fraser River, near Vancouver's airport, so there is usually something to stare at.

Oh look. A government surveillance plane, cunningly labelled, "Surveillance." I guess full disclosure is the rule here, although this seems a bit extreme to me. Painting the plane bright red is perhaps not the best choice either. I dunno.

We were watching the river, hoping for a seal to come bobbing past. Frequently our conversation was interrupted by the roar of a float plane coming in for a landing. When there's a west wind, they bank hard left directly above the oval, then head downriver to land.

We walked around a bit, to see what else was there was to see.

We saw this--a fishnet/jellyfish art piece. Although not wing-ed, it is somewhat airborne. There are two of them. Their purpose seems to be to give visitors something to photograph. Success!

We walked further, and heard "Skrawk!"

"What's that?" asked son. A sound he's never heard before.

A Caspian Tern flew overhead. Then two more. They aren't uncommon in summer, but are more often seen farther out, beyond the river mouth. The sewage pipe jetty that extends far out into the strait from Iona Island may be the best land-based, nearby place to see Caspian Terns.

I'm a fan of terns, the sleeker, more pterodactylous relatives of gulls. When I was a kid in Toronto, a bit more than my son's present age, I was taken down to the Leslie Street Spit on a sunny day. The fog rolled in, and then Caspian Terns came squawking out of nowhere, flying low, thrilling and startling.

That's what I thought of at the sound of the bird. I almost forgot to say its name because I was somewhere else. Amid the planes and the sky-jelly net-art we hear and see a bird that has double meaning--a fresh new imprint, and a found memory.

The bright red spy-plane, on the other hand, was an intergenerational equalizer.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I love the educational content in this blog. The day after I read your posting, I saw my first Caspain tern at Jericho beach. "A tern, a tern!", I shouted excitedly to my wife. "Turn where?" she replied.