Garden & Gun

SEA CHANGE

THE REST OF BERMUDA IS ASLEEP, but we are up with the birds and the stars. My guide, Weldon Wade, and I have trekked to the island’s largest wildlife sanctuary to watch the sun rise over Spittal Pond along the Atlantic Ocean. As we fumble our way toward the water, we find ourselves caught in that stretch of darkness before dawn: The sky has yet to lighten to lavender, which means we can only hear the high-pitched calls of the killdeer, not see the birds themselves. It will be an hour, maybe more, before the sun reveals their hiding places, so I focus on the staccato clicking coming from a ruddy turnstone as I try to find my footing.

Wade is a Bermudian diver and the founder of the conservation organization Guardians of the Reef. When he isn’t free diving to hunt invasive lionfish or leading cleanups to remove litter from the ocean, he can be found in preserves like this one—spots that make Bermuda a bird-watcher’s paradise. White-eyed vireos, starlings, and sparrows all nest here, and rarer species like white-tailed tropic birds, known locally as longtails, stop through annually and help mark the change in seasons.

The chatter coming from whimbrels sounds like something between a whine and a whistle, as if they feel just as skeptical about being awake as I do. We hear curlew-curlee coming from a thicket of buttonwood and bay grape trees, its speaker unfamiliar. I brace for the onslaught of mosquitoes that always materialize to feast upon me. They never come. They won’t, Wade explains. Spittal Pond is brackish. No standing fresh water, no mosquitoes. This truly is paradise. By the time we make it to the seaside’s edge, the sky is the color of a ripe plum, but soon all will go lilac, heralding light.

I FLEW FROM

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