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May! May! May!

May 5, 2012

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.

Photo from Wikipedia


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…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2012 3:32 am

    You are such a brilliant writer, Julia! I really think you need to publish a book about your bird watching. Your blog always makes me laugh out loud. I’m just as crazy about spring myself, but sadly, over here, we’ve hardly seen the sun so far this year. But the birdies are definitely out in force. I think, however, they’re probably getting wet.

  2. May 8, 2012 1:38 am

    An oriole! Another bird that is almost mythical to me in much the same way as a cardinal was until this March. Jealous about the screech owl . . . but as of yesterday the hummingbirds are back. Had to deal with the feeder ASAP as they were dive bombing me relentlessly until I did . . . and the pretty swallows are busy setting up house in our nest boxes.

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