I woke up this morning to the sound of my backyard robin, House Wren, Song Sparrows, and Baltimore Orioles singing away. My yard was hopping with warblers last night, and first bird I heard when I took Pip out this morning was a Blackburnian Warbler—and I could hear the high notes at the end of each song thanks to my hearing aids.
Pip had to get groomed, and while she was there, I went to the Western Waterfront Trail. As I walked along the path at the beginning, a woman walking her dog said I looked like a birder, and asked if I knew what birds she’d been seeing—they were quite tiny, like chickadees, but colored sort of like Red-winged Blackbirds. I showed her the pictures of American Redstarts on my cell phone’s Sibley app. She was happy to have her question answered, and I was happy to be living in the kind of world where people notice little black-and-orange birds, want to know what they are, and feel comfortable asking someone with binoculars.
I’d led a warbler walk here yesterday, and there were only a few new birds today—a couple of Swainson’s Thrushes and a Gray-cheeked Thrush. Orioles were noisier than yesterday, but Red-winged Blackbirds were quieter. I saw several Veeries—we seem to be at peak migration for them. And I also came upon a very welcome sight—a family of Canada Geese. I’m a sucker for baby ducks and geese, and these guys were still pretty tiny. I took a lot of photos since the parents didn’t seem too worried about me.
Pip’s grooming takes about an hour, so I didn’t stay too long. On my way back, I came upon the coolest sight of the morning—a Veery on the trail right in front of me. I pretty much stayed rooted where I stood, clicking away photo after photo, and the bird didn’t seem concerned at all—he or she actually came closer rather than moving further away. My photos show every feather, and I even got some of the little thing extracting a worm from some kind of dried reed and gobbling it down. I wasn’t in a hurry, so I waited for him or her to move on before I did. It felt so warm and lovely to spend a few minutes with this normally secretive little sprite.
Pip was thrilled to see me again. It’s such a weirdly gratifying thing to have a little dog, and be the sun and the moon and the stars to her.
On our way home, we stopped at Park Point, where a few school buses in the parking lot and throngs of children in the picnic area and playground gave intimations that the school year is just about over. About 300 Ring-billed Gulls were loafing in the ball field. I couldn’t pick out any outliers among them—just one Greater Yellowlegs—but in one fairly small puddle right next to the parking lot, a pair of Northern Shovelers let me take lots of photos.
It’s been very discouraging lately keeping up with the news—the efforts to privatize more and more federal lands that were set aside for all of us and for wildlife; the reversal of the ban on lead ammo in national wildlife refuges; the serious efforts to dismantle the Endangered Species Act and cut back funding for the agencies that protect not just wildlife but the air we breathe and the water we drink. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth fighting anymore—we seem to be returning to the days before that first Earth Day, as if all the things I’ve fought for my entire adult life have been for naught.
A morning like today does two things—reminds me of the beauty and value of the things I’m fighting for, and restores my spirit. I was filled with gratitude for baby geese, a friendly Veery, beautiful Northern Shovelers, a good little dog, and people who care about these things, too. This is the world I choose to live in.