An Amateur Birdwatcher's tally
The scene unfolding was just too terrifying for me. I threw both of my hands before my face and squeezed my eyes shut. Good thing I wasn’t driving. After one very long moment I reopened my eyes and removed my hands. I breathed raggedly. My knees were weak even sitting down. They were alive, and beautiful as they loped across the field. Two cars passed. I sighed in relief.
As you can tell, our birding experiences tend to be mild and not exciting. But they are different every time. I can tell you now there are three deer who are very lucky to be alive. Later, I’ll tell their tale.
I started in the middle of my birdwatching tales today. Now I’ll go back to the beginning. There were no birds at the feeders today. No gulls on the way through the neighborhood. It was a little spooky. Finally, we spotted a pigeon on a light post. Bird number 1. Then we went birdless for the strip of highway off the exit, onto Green River Road.
Wow. For the first time this year no blue herons were in the Browns project. But then a red winged blackbird on a wire became number two in the day’s count. This was an odd lineup. A few robins took number three spot. Starlings lined up on telephone wires. Canada geese were in a field, with a pair of mallards. The count was rising.
“Kestrel” It was a little bit of an odd spot but the red breast made us sure of the identification. We tried to get pictures without much success. We pulled to the side of the road and I got out. I got a decent picture and suddenly had doubts. When I got in the car my sister looked confused. “It just flew down onto the field to meet that robin. Not to eat him, to meet him.” Our assessment changed. We had misidentified a robin. We drove on in quiet embarrassment for a while.
There was an eagle near the park, but only I saw it. He was a big, handsome guy. Or a very pretty lady. One can’t usually tell with eagles.
Katie and I walked this morning. She enjoys going down the road, but only for the ferns around the turn around circle. Then we went off path, across the meadow, toward the river. A blue heron flew up, perched in a tree. The paparazzi began clicking furiously.
I heard ducks quacking in the quiet section of the river, just around the bend coming from the bridge. But Katie wanted to go the other way, and it was her walk. So we headed in the direction that appealed to her. Robins dotted the field. I got several decent pictures of them. Katie was not amused by this activity.
All too soon it was time to go home. We drove across the bridge a little sadly. The eagle was gone, some cows and sheep were out. Much of the anticipation of bird watching was slowly fading. Then a barn swallow swooped across the road.
The swallows are back! This is a huge prediction of spring. New excitement brightened the whole car. The dogs didn’t know why their people were so, but they liked it. We almost missed the deer. Two deer had crossed the road and stood in a pathway. Then my sister saw another one coming! The first deer of the season. We rejoice, and then panicked.
A car came around the curve in the opposite direction, going at a faster pace than they should have. Another car was just behind them. The last deer hesitated crossing, but the two on our side of the road decided to go back. There was trouble brewing. A collision seemed inevitable. My hands flew up to my face…
When I peeked between my fingers both cars had stopped and the deer, all three, were loping across the field, back to the river. I breathed, realizing that my lungs were empty. The passersby looked oddly at us, two ladies with their dogs who got upset over deer crossing the road. My hands were shaking so badly that I could not raise my camera for a picture.
The remainder of the drive was quiet. A stellar jay showed himself and flew by before I could flip the camera on. Then a small burst of fresh excitement. “Swallows!” Swallows are back. Spring is coming right behind them. My first sighting this year were tree swallows. They made our bird watching an experience of new delight. We headed home with happy visions of warm sunshine and spring birds.
I love birdwatching. It's relaxing and fun. Even though I've been birding for over 10 years I classify myself as an amateur birder. I plan to write a blog each month about my experiences. Hope you enjoy them!