Monday, August 28, 2006

Warbler Overload

We got to spend a few days at Hasty Brook last week. The weather was cooler and a bit drizzly, but a welcome change from the hot, muggy days of our previous visit. There were no projects planned so we got to simply relax. The kids kept themselves pretty well occupied and Art caught up on rest and reading. I was left with lots of time for birdwatching and reading as well- perfect! The woods were FULL of warblers. Such beautiful, flitty little things. My ID skills are not great, so I saw this time as an opportunity to really learn alot.

I parked my chair beside this lovely balsam pine and for over an hour the branches above me vibrated with tiny birds. They seemed to tumble down through the branches, catching insects, then hop back up, to tumble down again. None seemed bothered by my presence. According to my field guide, there were black and white, chestnut-sided, yellow, and, I'm pretty sure Wilson's warblers. I saw yellow stripey warblers but I couldn't tell them apart even with the book. Then there were the millions of yellow/olive, yellow/gray, olive/yellow, olive/gray, olive/olive/yellow.... My enthusiasm waned. My head ached. I was frustrated. Time to put the books down and go for a walk.

I found myself in a spot along side the creek near the old beaver dam. Even though the water was low in the creek, I could still hear it moving over the logs. So nice. I was treated to the song of a hermit thrush! They weren't singing like they had earlier in the summer- it was so nice to hear. Across the creek, where I heard the song, out of the alders popped the thrush! I made a mental note of the field marks, hoping to confirm the bird in my field guide back at the camper. What really caught my eye was the tail dipping. The bird's tail would quickly dip and then rise a bit slower. Later I found this characteristic listed! I was thrilled! Throughout the summer I had found the hermit thrush song to be the most beautiful sound and now I saw one! I'm not much of a lister, and to be honest I don't know if I could tell most thrushes apart, but I'm quite sure that one was a hermit thrush.

A little while later something else caught my attention. About five feet away, at eye level, perched a hummingbird. She sat there turning her head, looking at me with one eye, then the other. I had one of those moments- eye contact with a hummingbird! After a few more seconds she flew up to me checking out my bright pink T-shirt. I felt the air from her wings on my cheeks and she was gone. What a treat!

I really did enjoy the time I spent with my binos and field guide and all of those yellow/olive and olive/yellow warblers. But the real gift was the time by the creek with the hermit thrush and the hummer. I have found that often the best things happen when we watch and listen and stay in the moment. I think that is part of what draws me to watching birds. They don't worry about tomorrow. They don't agonize about when to nest or migrate, they just DO. They live totally in the moment. Something I'd like to do more in my life.


pamela.priest said...

Hi Lynne, I love reading about your experiences. I had a hot pink hat with a wide brim and I had a hummingbird sit on the brim. Bird ID with some of these ID books can be trying sometimes. But it's great when you get a positive id, isn't it!
I love the moss on the tree trunk & roots.
Living in the moment - it is something I'd like to try to do more of.

LauraHinNJ said...

Fall warblers are impossible! Isn't there a whole section in Peterson just devoted to these birds that all look the same?

It's nice just to be *with* them, without even knowing who they are, right?

Sounds like a neat hummer experience! Love when they buzz closeby for a better look at you.

samtzmom said...

Oh, I love the hummers too! Staying in the moment... something I strive to do more and more frequently these days. So much beauty around us if we'd only slow down and look.

pablo said...

That must have been the last hummingbird in Minnesota. Aren't they all speeding their way to South America about now?

Mon@rch said...

I agree that warblers can be tough but I could spend hours and hours watching them! great post!