An Amateur Birdwatcher's tally
Buttercups in the meadows are sure signals of the beginning of summer. Daisies will be next week. We’re in the week of May 13, 2018, driving through Flaming Geyser park again. Katie whimpers in excitement and Maggie stirs and looks at me expectantly from the back seat. She would love to ride in the front with me, but we prefer to keep her safely harnessed in the back seat.
We do not see our white robin. A leucistic robin,it’s called, according to a web site I was pointed to by a fellow birder. The web site is https://www.birdnote.org/show/why-my-robin-half-white and it was perfect timing for my needs last week!
However, a few mallards swam along in the marsh, a blue heron rose majestically from it’s perch in a tree and fluttered away, an eagle soared above us, swallows and red-wing blackbirds and sparrows flitted and chattered. Robins sang in the fields near the river. It was idyllic as usual.
One of the kingfishers showed off happily on a snag in the marsh. So I took some pictures. But the trip this time was short and to the point – Katie ambled along without a single thought of letting me use my camera. Still, the buttercups were cheerful and the robin songs were happy. Short and sweet.
All total, we saw pigeons, robins, tree swallows, kingfishers, blue herons, Canada geese, starlings, red wing blackbirds, brewers blackbirds (they hang out with the starlings in farm country), mallards, wood ducks, sparrows (not specified – we didn’t get that far in the identification pursuit), an eagle, and a hawk. Fifteen birds in about an hour, while walking a dog part of the time!
“What was that?” I cried excitedly. Katie barked. Maggie woofed. Sarah hit the brakes. Luckily we were only going about 8 miles an hour through Flaming Geyser Park. We had just passed the entrance and turned onto the road. Trees blocked the view of the river on one side and a large meadow lay to the right. A bird had flown across the road from the trees to the meadow.
White, the size of a robin, with a flash of red? My mind could not find a name for this creature. What was he? Sarah had her binoculars out. I pulled out the camera and hit the zoom. The bird was in the field to my right. A robin landed near him. Neither bird seemed alarmed by the other. Very curious,.
The red was in the breast. The beak was yellowish. The head was darker, a pale gray. The rest of the bird was white. Another robin joined them as I gathered facts like a detective. Description of the perp: interesting.
We sat idling in the road. No one came along to complain. Katie continued to bark. She wanted to go walk. This was her favorite place. What were we doing? Maggie settled down, bored. She looked up through the window and watched the clouds and birds above.
We had a mystery on our hands. Now the paparazzi is perplexed. My zoom isn’t zooming enough to suit me. I can get the bird, but not as well as I wish. My pictures are not telling me what it is.
Every profession has its questions. For journalist it is who, what, where, when, and why? My bird is definitely a bird, possibly looking for bugs or worms, on a sunny morning, in a field, so the only question I can’t answer is why. But the answers don’t lead to a resolution of my inquiry. “what is that?” So I turn to birding questions.
What size is it? Robin size. What color is it? White and red with some gray. What type of beak does it have? Strong, seed and bug eating type. Any patterns, spots, stripes or other markings? No. I flip through my Sibley’s vaguely. Then I go to the section on robins. None of the pictures show my bird.
After about 5 minutes the bird flies off with the robins, back to the trees. We wait for them to come back, but they don’t. Our mystery remains. Sadly, we move on. Our mystery remains. Who is the unrobin?
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 a week about my experiences. Hope you enjoy them!