Friday, October 14, 2011

Full Circle

It was about a year ago that I became excited about the idea of exploring the nature and birds of the urban environment where I spend most of my time. I sought out every park, pond and vacant space that I could find in the Bloomington-Normal area, and carefully tallied up birds, plants and various impressions. And at the end of the day, I decided that I really am wild at heart, after all -- I prefer my nature experiences to be as remote as possible. But still, I do work in town. And since I'm stuck here so often, I'd rather seek out birds whenever possible than just stay inside. (As an aside, after moving to a much smaller town several months ago, I have to admit that the urban environment is birdier -- at least until I can finish transforming my back yard into an Avian Haven.) Today, after I got off work, I decided to explore the reaches of my Angler's Pond again, as I hadn't done so in about a month. My mind was filled with the memories of the walk around it I did last October, when I discovered a flock of white-throated sparrows scratching in the leaves, and felt as if I were in the vicinity of some mystical truth, represented by sparrows. The sparrows are back. Also, yellow-rumped warblers, robins, blue jays, and chickadees. And something unexpected--a juvenile coot, which I startled from a sheltered spot against the bank as I walked past.
It was so drab and plain, except for its snazzy white tail feathers.
Even so, I was happy to see it, as I've never seen a young coot before. I actually startled it twice -- it kept going back to the same sheltered spot. After the second stroll past, I stopped a distance away and watched it bob back for a third time, at which point I was pleased to leave it in peace. Besides the coot, there was a large flock of ducks that took off before I could identify them (they were small and had a distinctive white patch on their wings, which is all I could really notice as they flew into the distance), and a pair of mallards.
Otherwise, the pond was still, apart from ripples caused by the increasingly strong wind. Most of the trees still look green, though the wind stirred fallen leaves in every open area. I think these berries belong to honeysuckle, yet another invasive plant.
The more I learn about what I see, the more I think I should rename this blog "Things that don't belong here."
Going back to the same place again and again sometimes feels so "been here, done this." And sometimes it feels like a form of meditation. Sometimes it's a private experiment, results tallied only by me (and sometimes shared on ebird). And sometimes it's just what I do. Just because, no matter what else is going on, no matter how tempted one might be to give in to despair (e.g,, how painful to try and love the earth when it's swiftly being destroyed), the alternative is even worse. It's always better to pay attention.

1 comment:

  1. I go back to certain places over and over again, too, like Lake Calumet, and it is like a walking meditation. I love the photos of the young coot. Coots have been very special to me since my first sighting...right there in your pond! I didn't know they dove; I thought my coot had been pulled under to her doom by a giant snapping turtle. (They live in that pond, too, so look out!) Mom