Sunday, September 11, 2011
A few good birds
Fall birding can be so hit or miss. I've had wonderful birding days in September, warbleriffic outings, days where getting a big species count seems almost effortless. But that's only sometimes. The rest of the time, it's more like it was for me this weekend.
There were a few really good birds. But mostly not. Mostly it was just me walking along by my lonesome.
Yesterday I drove around the county a bit, hoping to find someplace with a different mix of species than I've been getting at Weldon Springs and Mascoutin. More specifically, still hoping for sandpipers, even though they've been eluding me all year.
I did find two semipalmated sandpipers and two solitary sandpipers in the muddy creek bed by Clinton Marina, keeping company with a killdeer, but beyond that, not a "peep" out of them.
On the other hand, the Peninsula Day Use Area was interesting. It used to be part of the park system, I'm assuming, but ever since I've been birding, the road has been closed, the area abandoned. But it doesn't say "Keep Out!," so every once in a while I stop there, usually in the winter.
This was the first time I'd been there while the grasses and foliage are still abundant. Weeds and scrubby yellow flowers pushed up through a long buckle in the pavement, that ran down the middle of the road like some shrubby backbone. It was really weird when I got to the area with the restrooms and the playground, like what sort of apocalypse made everybody leave? Yeah, I know, state funding, but it still felt like something out of Planet of the Apes.
From the area by the picnic shelter all along the trail to the beach, the amount of garbage made it clear that the place hasn't really been abandoned after all. And clearly the survivors of the Peninsula Day Use Area's armageddon enjoy Bud Light and Newport cigarettes. They also left behind many wadded up plastic bags and a frying pan. Ughh...
On the way back, I saw the bird that made the whole trip to Litter Central worthwhile: an osprey soaring overhead, carrying a large fish in its talons. Yes, it's moments like this that make me keep birding....
Today, I stuck closer to home, and walked around at Weldon Springs for most of the morning. Not much to see, a couple flocks of fall warblers but not as many as I'd like. I hope someone else is finding them. I did hear a white-eyed vireo calling from the shrubs, and even caught a glimpse of it. It's loud and discordant song inspired me to compose a small poem:
The white eyed vireo
is a noisy bird.
He is assured
that when he calls
across the fields
his voice is heard.
are more retiring.
is the warbling's warble,
while the Bell's cheedle-cheedle
sounds self admiring.
So, do birds ever inspire you to compose a verse or two? On a less pleasant note, have you ever happened upon a mountain of litter while you were strolling around?