Saturday, June 13, 2020

Birding Notes

The past week has culminated in some major milestones for my birdwatching experiences: last Xmas the Significant Otter gave me a set of nice modern binoculars, and they have been inspiring me to literally refocus an old passion of mine (not to mention get out of the house and go on more walks). Another interesting side-effect is the heightened sense of awareness of ambient noise. This became more apparent during the coronavirus shutdown: the entire neighborhood became bathed in a luxurious blanket of silence. And the inexorable creeping return of background white noise that has heralded an unfortunate return to normalcy. Still, the half-hour porch session every morning has been therapeutic and meditative, jut sitting and listening and looking for movement. This coincided with the onset of spring and resurgence of leaves, which now effectively camouflage the critters, and I have to shift my observation to bare trees and the edges of glades and other openings in the forest for activity.

So back to the epic week in birdwatching: Several key species were added to my life-list, one of which has momentous meaning in line with Peterson's pivotal experience - a pair of Northern Flickers engaged in aerial acrobatics for a good fifteen minutes of observation. As an added bonus I engaged them with a YouTube recording of their distinctive call which triggered some enthusiastic communication.
Next was the solving of a riddle that consumed me for some time: after weeks of wondering what we saw while out on another stroll - finally figured out it was a Varied Thrush. The color was off but still identical markings meant it was a rare morph... and identifying the unique call filled in another mysterious noise often heard around our neck of the woods by the cabin.
Lastly, after many years of only hearing their call, we had a first-ever sighting of the furtive Boreal Owl right off our porch nestled amidst some black spruce. That would account for the sudden disappearance of our family of voles and reduction in the usual army of squirrels.

We've been making a point to check out the Peat Ponds out in the Goldstream Valley: The Interior Land Trust folks have really done an admirable job with this little jewel of a community resource. Our last visit yielded many different species of waterfowl and songbirds, plus some beaver and a bonus muskrat.

One of my personal favorites to watch is the Red-necked Grebe - such vibrant, graphic details when one can see them up close.

Drax: I've mastered the ability of standing so incredibly still that I become invisible to the eye

I've also been steadily practicing basic birdwatching skills such as the hand-to-eye coordination (instinctual and familiar to gesture drawing) necessary for locating and tracking. It's very useful with Warblers flitting about the underbrush or waterfowl across the sky. I'm not quit wearing camo and using blinds yet, but even little things like being careful with my movements is part of the heightened awareness and sensitivity.

pre-poop POV

Also, is it just me or does anybody else ever notice how much birds poop? I mean, it seems whenever I observe any for any length of time any bird I'm rewarded with some great crap shots.

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