Taking time to observe without my camera, I saw a pervasive nervousness. They were not going about their business in comfort. They were attuned to everything new in their environment, stopping their feeding or play for the slightest disruption. So although it disappointed me to put my camera away, I decided I would investigate their history before I tried photographing them again.
I love seeing raccoons in daylight, just to observe the behaviors which normally evade us at night. Contrary to popular mythology, seeing a raccoon in the daytime does not mean they are rabid. Raccoons can carry rabies, but animals with rabies exhibit other symptoms. This time of year, we see raccoons even more often in the afternoons as they forage, often to support a growing family of kits. Mother raccoons will look after their young for a year or so.
Smith Cove Park is populated only occasionally with dog walkers, cruise ship aficionados, marina boaters and a few transient souls who stop there by way of a nearby bike route. I went there for the waters -- and for the salt air -- without expectation of wildlife. But, that was about to change -- one late April day.
Like Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower, the gull, along with many urban birds, is overlooked and pushed aside, sometimes literally under foot on crowded sidewalks. Also like O’Keeffe’s flower, when you take the time to really look at that gull and embrace the wholeness of her — her yellow bill, her gray coverts, her ear spots or orbital rings, the white tips of her stretched wings — she becomes your world not just for the moment, but in perpetuity.