The Mast-Head: Spring Springing

Something is happening out there in the water, that’s for sure

Surfing out at Montauk Point last week, I was startled when a seal, make that a really, really big seal, popped its bulbous head out of the water just a few feet from where I sat straddling my board. It was a chilly, windy day, with few birds around and even fewer other surfers. I felt alone, and, had the seal been amorous or angry, there was little around other than me for it to take out its urges upon.

Not that that was likely to happen. Despite the general increase in the numbers of seals hereabout, I have never heard of one attacking a surfer or swimmer, or even getting closer than a board’s length away. The closest story I have heard was from a Montauk local who collided with one while on a stand-up board some time ago. He and the seal kind of took to the air simultaneously. Still, it is hard to forget when you sit out there alone in the fog that nice, plump seals are favored by sharks, like the great whites now thought to maintain a breeding ground just off our shore.

Something is happening out there in the water, that’s for sure. A couple of days after Mr. Big Head and I had our stare-down at the Point, I saw several smaller seals on the south side and gulls picking up halves and heads of fish, presumably scraps from the seals’ morning meal. 

And the woods are busy, too. Over in Bridgehampton the other day on a back road, I noticed a flock of turkeys on a rise getting busy, or so they hoped. As the females picked about indifferently, the large males puffed and displayed, seeking their affection. I felt sorry for a puny male off by himself a distance away on a gravel driveway, taking his chances with his tail feathers extended on the periphery.

For two mornings this week, a big whitetail doe has been in the yard when I let out the dogs. It has been jumping our modest fence to graze on the so-far uncut grass. The dogs enjoy the racket as the deer crashes through the swamp, presumably leaping away to safety. 

Seals sealing, birds birding, deer deering. Spring has been like that. Who knows what summer will bring.