Saturday, September 3, 2011
Sometimes things turn out just as good as I'd hoped they be. My birding trips to Texas, for example, or a few stunning and warbleriffic "big days" I can think of. But anticipation is a two-edged sword. Thinking of all the wonders that are about to befall me adds zest to otherwise tedious and frustrating days; but then, when said wonders do not produce themselves, instead of enjoying the day I have, I end up cursing it for all that it's not. (Suffice to say I had a real issue with Christmas letdowns as a kid...no matter what I got, it never matched up to the weeks worth of anticipation I'd built up staring at the beautifully wrapped packages under the tree. I still hold a grudge against the holidays for that, but that's a whole different topic....)
In case you are wondering, all the sound and fury of my introduction signifies...a very dull round-up of birds. (And I regret that once again I'm pulling photos from my "archives"--I don't take the camera with me when I'm hoping for warblers. I never get good shots at them anyway, and the extra weight of the camera really compounds the affliction known as "warbler neck." But my apologies to the more visually oriented who might be reading this.)
The first problem--the main problem--with the day is that the horrible heat has returned! It's never a good sign when it's almost eighty degrees before I even leave the house. I know, some time next January I'll be wondering what on earth I was whining about, but right now, my sentiments are: summer BEGONE! I want afternoon temps in the sixties, red and golden leaves, a crisp coating of frost on the ground early in the morning. I want fall--and the fall of my snowy homeland of Michigan, at that. (Autumn in central Illinois is a very hit or miss affair. Sometimes we get treated to a proper one, other times it stays hot and muggy until October.)
Since I knew it was going to be a scorcher, I cut to the chase and just did the backpack loop at Weldon Springs. I thought that would be the likeliest place to find warblers without having to drive too far, and also to escape the holiday weekend crowds.
I was right about the crowds. Just as with my previous trips, the walk was very solitary, and the yellow flowers along the creek beds were still blooming. The spiders weren't too bad, either, and only a few mosquitoes.
It has been pretty dry the last few weeks, and the land has a parched feel to it: ground hard and cracking under my feet, Salt Creek low in its banks.
Alas, for all my efforts, the birds were few and far between: ovenbird, wood thrushes, red-eyed vireo, black-capped chickadees, catbirds, cardinals, one great blue heron seen at a distance in the creek; a crow, blue jays, many many robins, one field sparrow, a handful of goldfinches...you get the idea. Except for the ovenbird, the only warbler I saw was another black-throated green.
And it was hot. So I went home. It feels really wrong to spend the first afternoon of my long holiday weekend cooped up inside, with the air conditioner chugging faithfully along, partaking of my summer staples of cold beer and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Hopefully the rest of the weekend won't be this dull. In the meantime, I am dreaming of fall. Or the Arctic. How about fall in the Arctic? Let's just say that, as far as I'm concerned, this hundred degree weather has outlived its welcome!