I lagged behind; dazzled by fuzzy willow catkins glowing in the pale morning light while the rest of the group went ahead. It was a cold but not frosty morning on Beech Road. Monksville Reservoir was flat and still with only one boat of fisherman tucked against the far bank. It was quiet with very few birdsongs.
The Thursday morning bird walks led by Suzanne, a volunteer at Weis Ecology Center started a month ago. I am a laggard or maybe a slug or need ginkgo biloba in the worst way. Thursday would roll by and on my way to work I would glance over and see all of the cars, wonder what was going on, then mutter CRAP! under my breath. It must be Suzanne’s walk. I would make a mental note–next week I am going to go. This went on for weeks. Yesterday, I remembered.
I like these bird walks they give me chance to get out in the early, albeit frosty, morning air; meet fellow birders; and experience nature before I sit in my windowless office for the next 8 or 9 or 10 hours. AND the birding is good there during migration.
While I was distracted by the catkins, one of the women on the walk yelled out in an excited voice, “ There is a bird with a long nose.” I whirled toward the group. Suzanne, got her bins on it and identified it as a Wilson’s Snipe. I abandoned the catkins and dashed over to the group. That is a good bird. I have not seen a Snipe since they changed its name from Common to Wilson. We searched for it in vain.
We continued the walk into the woods hoping for warblers, gnatcatchers or maybe a waterthrush. What we got instead were trucks and bulldozers. The freeholders were repairing a trail in the woods that had been washed out. While a good thing, heavy earthmoving equipment does put a damper on birdlife.
We did see, Great Blue Heron, DC Cormorant, migratory Canada Geese, Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Crows, Wood Ducks, 2 female Buffleheads, Tree Swallows, A Rough-winged Swallow, the ubiquitous Cowbirds, and of course, there was the Wilson’s Snipe.
I left the group early, but I’ll be back next week, if I remember.