Monday, October 18, 2010

Empire of the J25

It looks like a flock of Coots and a half-dozen Harlequin Ducks are going to be wintering on the shore near my place. That makes me very happy. They're two of my favorite waterfowl. Check em out:

It's pretty obvious why the Harlequin is a good duck. Purdy. Here's a Coot:

The Coot has a flashy bit of white, and colorful red legs, but they're not nearly as decorative as most male waterfowl. I like Coots because of their feet. Instead of webbing between each toe, their individual toes have flaps on either side. When the Coot pushes its feet down through the water, the flaps splay out, so the toes become really wide for a moment, like tiny red flippers.

I've been swimming in the ocean every day, but not staying in for long. It's bloody cold - colder than usual. Apparently this is will be an "El Nina" winter - an unusually cold winter because of cold ocean currents.

I've tried swimming in the wetsuit, but I don't like it. Today I swam in shorts, and it wasn't bad but my chest was burning and aching after a minute or two, and my chin (of all things) was also burn-aching, like that feeling you get when cold snow gets down your back, or into your boot. Except the cold snow is covering my whole body. A mountaineering friend of mine calls it the "screaming meanies". He gets it bad on his hands and feet because partial frostbite has reduced the circulation in his extremities.

This weekend I'm buying a thermometer so I have a better idea what the hell I'm doing out there.

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