The Stingray

The Stingray

Normally when we see a beach owl flying, it is in the form of a dramatic takeoff out of the dunes or a goofy, sloppily flapping owl cruising high over our heads. Unfortunately, especially when we see this on a crowded beach in broad daylight when an owl should be sleeping like a little turd, it is because the owl is trying to get away from something annoying: oftentimes us. Sometimes it is because we don’t see the owl at all and spook it, and sometimes because we most definitely see the owl but can’t contain our curiosity. Both are bad party-moves. In the first case, we should be paying more careful attention to the beach around us because seeing things like a beach owl in the winter is one of the coolest experiences you can have down the shore. In the second case, if we let our curiosity get the best of us to the point where we make owls fly away, then we just did the opposite of what we intended to do (satisfy our curiosity) and now have no owls at all.

But the true flight of the wild beach owl is far more stealthy, silent, smart, graceful, cool, and lazy. It is more like surfing. The true flight of a beach owl doesn’t occur above our heads; it occurs below our feet. The true flight of the beach owl isn’t violent, or dramatic; it is still, and it is silent. It cant happen right in front of you and you might not even see it; and you surely won’t hear it.

A carefree beach owl will take a high perch and wait for the right set up. When ready, it will take a dive off the perch and ride the invisible forces which animate the beach, often just inches from the ground, or water, or grasses. The smartest, best skilled, and laziest will travel significant distances around the beach in this way, carefully plotting a route from small perch to small perch, hopefully spooking and snatching a meal or two as they glide silently across the Island like Stingrays on the floor of the sea.