May! May! May!
Oh Birders, need I say more? Spring migration is in full swing, I’m already afflicted by warbler neck, but what’s an extra trip to the chiropractor when I can savor a closeup of an American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) singing at the top of his lungs? It was a glorious morning.
The day began rather ominously for me at Kipling Spit. Every great bird I thought I saw turned out to be either a tree leaf, a pine cone or a Robin. I was a bit worried when our fearless leader pointed out a Black and White Warbler and all I saw were the little bugs flying overhead (mind you this time, thanks to Zeiss, I managed to catch the intricate formation of the swarm of bugs; fascinating, but I’m not much of an insect-watcher). The binoculars did a great job of focusing on pretty much everything other than the warblers! A half hour in and the most exciting thing I’d managed to see was a fat raccoon diving head first into the hole of an oak tree. I didn’t check to see if it ever made it out.
And then, suddenly something clicked. I saw a Yellow Rumped Warbler. And then I saw it again. And again. And after the twentieth time, I didn’t need to wonder whether it was perhaps possibly a yellow rumped warbler. Suddenly, I knew the bird. And then the Palm Warbler, doing its wild tail wagging routine. And the Black and White Warbler creeping up a tree, pretending to be a Downy woodpecker! A few minutes later, I caught sight of a Yellow Warbler, which I recognized off the bat, from last year, and a Baltimore Oriole. Unexpectedly, I was on familiar ground. It felt like a reunion among old friends! That’s the beauty of May — though it’s the same every year (but better! because I know more birds), I’m beginning to think it’s the sameness that I relish. And the knowing.
We also paid a visit to Rattray Marsh and eavesdropped on what could only have been flirtatious banter between a male and female Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). Afterwards, a Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) appeared on the horizon — with lunch (a delectable fish) in its bill — and I discovered that a Caspian tern is about the size of three common terns. There were also gregarious Solitary Sandpipers (an oxymoron if ever there was one), Least Sandpipers, swans, gulls, a lone Brown Duck, goslings, ducklings. And, the biggest surprise of all — a Screech Owl perched on tree, nearly entirely camouflaged and looking very much like a branch.
And this is only the beginning…