Sapsuckers and Subtleties @ HLG

Forest Gump said….”Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”.  Well, I used to think that about finding Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.  But for the past two weeks this Sapsucker has been hanging around in the Arboretum on the same trees.  I didn’t notice at the time but after checking my photos he has several feeding wells on this willow.  So much for finding Sapsuckers randomly.  This guy doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.  What I enjoyed about finding this bird is that he didn’t mind that I laid under the willow tree to wait for him to come out from behind the canopy.  I knew he was up there.  There were no other trees around.  If he did fly off I would have seen him.  While I laid in the grass he shouted a few “meeyahs”!  What a sweet sounding call!….sort of a cross between a catbird and a blue Jay.  I did manage to get a few shots of him up in the tree.  That was good enough for me.  It isn’t always about the photo.  It’s nice to get a good picture.  But the best part is all the stuff you notice while you wait and all the questions that run through your mind during that time.  What kind of tree is this?  Is it dying?  Is there a nest cavity around?  Is the female nearby?  All the stuff that occupies my mind while birding is the stuff that makes hours seem like minutes.  I think it’s important to pause every now and then….to just listen and look.  It served me well earlier in the day.  I had been hiking for about an hour when I paused for a second to notice some Bluebirds in the canopy.  All was quiet until I heard something in the distance.  A honk, several honks….but where was it coming from?  It was the sound of a flock….a very large flock….very far away.  I looked up at the partly cloudy sky.  It was getting louder….but still very far away.  Then I saw them…..above the clouds…..about as far as the eye can see…..birds!  LOTS of birds.  I raised my binoculars….SNOW GEESE!  Not ten, not twenty, not fifty, but hundreds!  I scrambled for my camera.  I knew they were too far away but I wanted to know how many there were?  I would count them at home from the picture.  (I later counted 288 Snow Geese.)  I took another look through my binoculars.  I was in the woods and lucky to be in a small clearing to see them.  I only had a minute or two before they flew out of sight…behind the clouds, behind the  trees.  I stood there in the middle of the woods and looked around. Did anybody else see that???  288 birds as high as a 747 flying south…barely visible, barely audible.  No fanfare.  No advertising.  No notice.  It was just nature doing amazing things, just like always.

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