I have seen frigate birds before--quite a few of them actually when we went to the Dry Tortugas in Florida. Each and every one intrigued me, fascinated me, and amazed me. They truly are an awesome bird...in size, breadth, agility, strength, and beauty in their own way. They hold a power of mystique over me--of their wanderings over the wide open ocean, mostly alone. But this frigatebird, well, this one was different. It was the one who pulled at my heart strings and tugged at my soul. It was the one who created a yearning--one of those yearnings that is so hard to put into words. A yearning that has to be felt, a yearning that makes you ache from the beauty. But wait...didn't I have these same exact feelings before when watching another frigatebird? Then it occurred to me and haunted me.
The many frigatebirds in the Tortugas were truly amazing-, but, several years ago there was but "one" frigatebird that stirred feelings. We were at South Padre Island, Texas. It was our last night there after spending close to two weeks in the area birding. We were relaxing in the hot tub at our hotel that was ocean front. As we sat there we watched the palms swaying in the evening ocean breeze, the sun was doing down and there were still a few Franklins gulls and Great-tailed grackles hanging around the pool side. I caught a glimpse of a rather large bird coming in from over the ocean. As it came closer it got larger and larger and I then realized it was a Magnificent frigatebird! It sailed and glided over us, went back out over the water and then sailed back in over us. It was motionless for an instant right over us before continuing on down the beach. I was struck with that yearning I was telling you about--I was filled with awe and wonder and I swear at that moment my soul was in flight with that bird! It is one of the most grand feelings I have ever encountered. I felt ALL of life in that instant!
Several years have passed since then and we found ourselves on the outer banks of North Carolina. We spent a week there birding and shelling. On our last morning there we were preparing things and packing things to leave. We were finishing up the last of odd and end clean up jobs in the house we had rented. I stepped out on the balcony and before my wonderous eyes did appear a solitary Magnificent frigatebird! It gave me the show of all shows! It hung over me like a kite-motionless. In this kiting position I watched this bird scratch its head and preen with its feet all the while attesting to its strength of wings and flight. I watched it turning its head to and fro-I watched it stay in position yet rise and fall in altitude...never once flapping or batting a wing! I seen truly magnificent feats in flight that day! And there again were those same yearning and bigger than life feelings overwhelming me! I thought my soul had left in flight with the "Last Day" Texas frigatebird, but once again, I felt it leave with this "Last Day" North Carolina frigatebird. How odd--they were both last day-last chance birds. That frigatebird gave me a full 45 minute show that day before heading away and down the coast. I was truly prepared to stay there forever--as I always am--but mentally I knew I had already taken flight...and it was not on my own wings.
When we made our final exit that day--driving down highway 12 and getting glimpses of the ocean now and then between the dunes I was mentally imprinting my last views in my heart. Imagine my wonder when several miles down the road from the house I caught a glimpse, once again, of a frigatebird! I never once told anyone else in the truck what I saw. This final treasure I have kept to myself--til now. There was something to be said for me seeing that bird again!
The same one? Probably. The same one from Texas? I am just romantic crazy enough to think so! After all, I have but only one soul to part with...
3 days ago