Sagaponack Community Notes, May 22

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Until only recently, Sagaponack had managed to hang onto its name. That is, people knew what “sagaponack” meant, and no marketing campaign could change this. Or so it was thought.There are so many things that serve to make Sagaponack popular today that it is easier to dwell on the one thing that has always made it unpopular: Sagg is cold. Cold, specifically, when you want it to be warm. This is why people settled elsewhere, and Sagg was left alone. Sagg is a trough where the cool slinks to—so, brrrr, right into June.

This has been a spring of not being able to identify what I am seeing and yet sensing there is a great variety, especially among shore birds. In the near darkness and fog, I can distinguish long legs and curved bills; there are taller and shorter ones plying the muddy shore together. What I see is not enough for a novice like myself to make assumptions about, as I can only see silhouettes, and white flashes if they fly.

Similar but opposite circumstances prevailed the other morning when I tipped my head back and looked at the bright blue sky and saw the silver outline of a bird. I thought it was a barn swallow and have no proof that it wasn’t. It didn’t look exactly like a barn swallow. His forked tail was impossibly long—it floated behind him as his flight climbed against the west wind and paused high, directly above. It was hard to tell with the sun like it was, but he seemed whiter than the chestnut-breasted barn swallow. Then he arcs down, over the greenhouse, and is gone. Other barn swallows shot over again and again, but this one I didn’t see twice.

Beginning bird watchers see the most exotic and rare birds. The reason for this is that they don’t really see one but rather think they have. They haven’t yet learned how to parse out the features of a bird and remember it part to part. All they really know is that they saw something vibrant and beautiful, delicate and flitting. And so, when they open the guidebook to find it again, they go for the most beguiling, if similar, species.

This confusion points to the difference between seeing something alive and before you on a branch, and something in a book. The experiences aren’t equal.

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