Great blue herons nest on Wreck Island, just a few miles offshore. About once a summer, once the most delicate part of the nesting season has passed, we visit the rookery, riding out in our old converted lobster boat, the Granny II. This time we anchored fifty yards off the rocky beach, and the kids ferried us ashore in the round-bottomed dinghy.
The path to the rookery is inconspicuous in the underbrush at the edge of the rocks, but the raucous calls of the herons revealed the way. Soon we were among white-spattered bushes, looking up at dead tree branches spiking toward the sky. One tree had five nests, another three. The nests were a yard across, and in them the adolescent birds sat, hulking and entitled, grumbling loudly as they waited for their parents to come home bearing fish.
On the way home, we saw a minke whale, twenty feet long, arc out of the water. Farther on, twenty harbor seals hunted in a pack. In ominous silence, they slid toward a sloshing patch of water disturbed by jumping fish and jostling gulls.