As we prepared to check out of the Compass Rose Inn the next morning, we expected to spend five minutes at the typical continental breakfast of hard rolls and jam included with the fare, but we were greeted by inn keeper Gloria, who had prepared an “expanded” continental breakfast — translated as a wonderful breakfast buffet with all the fixings including tasty homemade pancakes topped with more conversation promoting the multiple strengths of the Newburyport community.
Departing the inn we joined some bird watchers a few miles away at Joppa Flats Education Center. We unknowingly became part of a 17-year-old tradition, Wednesday Morning Birding, thanks to the Mass Audubon Society. After introductions and the reading of the rules — it’s OK to look at birds with other people’s optical paraphernalia and no question is too insignificant — we were welcomed with warm fellowship. But, be careful, if you inform the group that you don’t see what they are talking about, everyone will start pointing in all different directions using all sorts of descriptive bird nomenclature and you will have too much fun.
The previous day my wife’s birding had been a bust aside from seeing seagulls. Today we toured the Merrimack River estuary, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in a convoy of three vans and my wife’s Life List increased considerably in a few short hours. I was more tickled to see a harbor seal float by a few yards away with minimal fanfare, probably because it didn’t appear to have feathers, and some bald eagles were soaring overhead at the same time. Oh, did I mention birders know how to talk? I thought I was chatty but these folks are informative without being pretentious, surprisingly great listeners, full of quick wit and good humor, simply nice companions that we had the pleasure to meet today.