I knew that from here on out I would start experiencing diminishing returns for my birding jaunts. Yesterday I went to one of my favorite local birding locales, Comlara Park/Evergreen Lake, as always with high hopes and visions of life birds dancing in my head.
It was sunny but windy, a bit chillier than I’d like, but winter’s around the corner now, so I’ll just have to suck it up because the alternative is to stop birding and that is NOT going to happen.
As for the birds—well, I saw some of the usual suspects. The only really “good” sighting was of a pair of Bald Eagles flying over Deer Island, and I had a nice chat with some other birders I saw in the park. They were the ones who keyed me in to looking for the eagles, in fact; on my way out, I’d only given a cursory look over the lake, due to the fact that the wind was blowing so strong and cold across the water that I was afraid my eyes would freeze shut!
In case anyone is wondering what are the “usual suspects” for mid-November in Central Illinois, I saw: blue jays; black-capped chickadees (it always trips me out how tiny they are); white-breasted nuthatches (red-breasted are also possible this time of year but I didn’t see any this outing); golden-crowned kinglets (even smaller than chickadees! Seriously, how do they survive?); ring-billed gulls; crows; downy woodpeckers; Canada geese; northern cardinals; one killdeer (I was a bit surprised it was still hanging around); American tree sparrows; robins; tufted titmice; mallards; belted kingfisher; and red-bellied woodpecker. Maybe someone far away, in a different climate, might have their interest piqued by some of these species – and to those people, I would say, come to Illinois! If you’re not a wackadoodle I will happily show you where to go to see them! – but to me, they were distinctly ho-hum. Does that make me a bad person? Shouldn’t I be happy to admire their beauty instead of lusting for the potential of spring and fall migration? If so—“should” is such a negative word.
It is what it is. And although I try to make a spiritual practice of staying open and appreciative of the world, and the birds, before me, I can’t help how I feel. I always miss the birds of summer so much. It’s not just that I admire them so. It’s as the days get colder and shorter, as the birds I love have fled, I always feel that the dark is falling in more ways than one. I can live with winter as long as there’s a promise of return. But I just don’t believe that they will return year after year for much longer. I think the world will just keep getting darker.