Day 3: Eight Minutes

A triple dose of joy hit me early yesterday morning.

JOY ONE: My sweet husband insisted I sit down right then to open the day’s remarkable Wordless News, adding you’re gonna need eight minutes and it’s so worth it. (I love it when he brings his enthusiasm and shares it with me.)

illustration by Maria Fabrizio
© Maria Fabrizio

JOY TWO: I clicked on the Wordless News link to find Maria Fabrizio‘s wonderful illustration of our South Carolina Purple Martins. You may remember two summers ago I joined the Carolina Wildlife Care Purple Martin Cruise and wrote about it here; year after year hundreds of thousands of these gorgeous creatures return to Bomb Island at Lake Murray to roost. It is quite something to behold.

Well, this year, something very mysterious happened. The Purple Martins didn’t come. After all these years, how do you explain the disappearance of a half million birds?

JOY THREE: NPR’s Adam Cole came to investigate. His story, told in video, is both fascinating and delightful.


Thank you, Cole. Thank you, Maria. And thank you, Tim!


30 Days of Joy

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Day 17: Purple Martins at Bomb Island

In the three hours we cruised Lake Murray, we saw four—five maybe?—other boats. So it should not have struck me as particularly noteworthy that our approach to Bomb Island was a solitary one.

Yet noteworthy it was, both in the fact that Purple Martins were coming, and in the delightful surprise that on this particular night, we were the only boat to witness it.

bomb island–the largest purple martin sanctuary in north america

There had been a terrible storm that afternoon, you see, weather so severe it downed trees and tangled power lines and laughed in the face of any soul foolhardy enough to climb out of a secure basement shelter. Still we headed for the water. Plans had been made, after all, curiosities piqued with the promise of the return of the Purple Martins. And in this case it wasn’t just the phenomenon of the birds themselves, I must tell you. What awaited us was a unique adventure, a narrated tour organized by (and benefitting) Carolina Wildlife Care, a Midlands organization with a great knowledge of and interest in these, and all, birds.

And so, in the rain, we set sail (proverbially speaking). We motored across Lake Murray, making merry with friends, sipping champagne, nibbling here and there on a bite or two of Dupre’s famous pimento cheese et al. And in no time we started our Bomb Island approach. (There may or may not have been a little lightening in the distance, who could say, what with the excitement of the promise of the Martins.)

They arrived, yes they did. In droves.


this may or may not be me and my partner-in-bird-obsession, cindy (t.coles photo)

It was magical. Just the hundreds of thousands of Purple Martins, and us—one boat filled with wet, awe-struck revelers.

Thank you, Carolina Wildlife Care, for an evening this bird lover won’t soon forget.


30 Days of Fun II