Bird brained stories!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Lucky surprises

Monday was my day off work. I had a list of errands I needed to run, and set up my day to follow a route that would get them all done and make best use of my gasoline dollars. Midway through my route, my plan was to spend some time birding in the Myrick Marsh again. The weather was that typical pattern for Wisconsin in May; overcast, with occasional sun peeking through, followed by mist, then rain, then a bit of sun before a downpour. Great weather for birds!

The migration had been moving along again, though the fallouts people been expecting had not really happened. I think maybe the Northern Oriole fallout happened, as they were literally all over the marsh, more numerous than even the ever present state bird, the American Robin. I'm used to seeing one, maybe two of them at a time, not all over the place! Surprise Number One.

As I was watching all this flashy orange, a college student heading back to campus must have noticed my heavy-hitting camera gear, because he pointed me to a family of Canada Geese. Indeed, two adults with four little fuzzy yellow goslings were paddling around near the observation deck. Surprise Number Two.

I continued on, and enjoyed a large number of Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, Yellow and Yellow Rumped Warblers, Blue Winged Teal pairs, laughing but hidden Soras, my first Gray Catbirds, and what's this? A Wilson's Snipe? Lurking in the still water, but still visible? Surprise Number Three.

Coming around the southern edge of the marsh, something large and white was seen. Three Trumpeter Swans, two with bands. Surprise Number Four. Just in front of me, and not at all spooked,was a Great Blue Heron in full breeding plumage, very willing to pose for my camera. Surprise Number Five.

I noticed as I headed back to the car, right at the bottom of the embankment, a flash of feathers. A Mallard hen hopped into the water, followed by twelve fuzzy ducklings, entertaining me with their antics as they followed Mama Duck in a nice, tight row, every so often one straggler exploring the weeds for just a moment. Surprise Number Six.

My last surprise for the day came later, after I sat down at the computer and downloaded the images I'd taken. Many of the shots I take are simply to aid in identification. I know they aren't worth keeping, even if I Photoshop the heck out of them. But there was one--a little active bird, not showy, but with the unmistakable song that croons, "when I see you I will squeeze you and I'll squeeze you till you squirt!" of a Warbling Vireo. Though he wasn't flashy, the photo, with just a bit of cropping and nothing more, was delightful--the bird looking right at me, framed nicely in the willow in a perky little sideways pose. That little bird is my current screensaver both at home and at work now. What was simply an ID shot might be one of the best avian photos I've taken yet.

It's a grand thing that someone my age can still be surprised this many times in one day. Birding can do that for a person! Oh, by the way. I never did finish my errand list. I spent the entire afternoon in the marsh, rain, sun and drizzle all. Birding can do that to a person, too.


  • ha! i don't blame you for not finishing your errands. you were on a birdie high! a blue heron - awesome!

    By Blogger doris, at 11:15 PM  

  • If nature gave out awards for acting the KILLDEER would win for best actor they pull off the old broken wing act so superbly

    By Anonymous Birdzilla, at 11:51 PM  

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