Two weeks ago, Esau the dog and I were walking down the road to beautiful Flying Point Beach in Watermill on the south fork of Long Island.
On the way, we encounter a flock of mostly headless mute swans on little Mecox Bay.
The beach is empty. Empty of humans, that is.
Shorebirds dart about on toothpick legs
As we walk, I scan the ocean for wildlife. I always look for seals – or floating bowling balls, which is what seal heads resemble when they peek out of the water. I used to see seals in Casco Bay when I lived in Portland, Maine and in the waters of Long Nook Beach on Cape Cod. But in decades of walks on Flying Point Beach, I have never spotted a seal, although I know they are out there.
Three gorgeous, punky-crested red-breasted mergansers swim by.
Further down the beach, I spy an unusual lump.
We walk lumpward, until the lump reveals itself to be … a seal pup.
It is a few feet long, and remarkably fat.
I scan the water in hopes of seeing a mother seal bobbing just offshore. Nothing. Has the little guy been abandoned? Is it injured or ill? Not wanting to frighten the seal, I keep my distance, and examine the pup through binoculars. The little seal seems to sleep.
Then it perks up and looks around.
It rolls over onto its back and wriggles around, as if to scratch an itch.
It rubs its nose with a flipper and sometimes seems to be playing peek-a-boo, covering its face with a flipper. I worry about its flippers. Are they moving properly? I can’t tell.
In the morning, I return to find … nothing. The seal is gone, and the ocean has claimed the spot where the little animal rested.