Before the Storm

Before the Storm by Goyo P
Before the Storm, a photo by Goyo P on Flickr.

Birding is different for everyone. Some folks like to “capture” birds with photographs. I like to do that occasionally. Some folks like to sit in their living room and watch them from the comfort of their favorite recliner. Some folks like to compete to see if they see the most birds in one year. As for me, I like to dabble in a little bit of each of these things. But more than anything, I just like to be outside with the birds. I knew a storm was coming today. I knew I had some free time this morning. So naturally I found the closest park to walk around to look and listen to the sights and sounds of nature. Today, that place was Island Park in Adrian (MI). I’ve known Island Park for a long time; spent many summers there as a young boy playing baseball. When I was not playing baseball I was wading down the creek looking for crayfish or leaches to poke my stick at. It’s a lot different now. My memories are marred with scandals and news of a dead body found there. A fisherman had apparently drowned. I think that was the story? And now there’s news that the Recreation Department might be abolished. Despite all these things the birds still come and go as always. There’s an owl that hangs out down there but I’ve never seen it. I just hear stories from friends who have seen it hunting along the river. With the ice storm approaching it was hard to find birds this morning. Trees were swaying and the wind was howling. But there’s one spot along the river that is sheltered from the wind by a high bank. I sought shelter there…and so did the birds. The first birds I heard were Carolina Wrens. For such a small body they really belt out a loud song. Two Downey Woodpeckers were chasing each other. Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were calling back and forth. Two Mallards flushed to my left. I was getting suspicious of all the birds being found in pairs when I finally saw three Northern Cardinals. Moments later I began to hear some unfamiliar call notes…not unfamiliar to me, just unfamiliar to the time of year. They were White-throated Sparrows. I watched them for a long time before I felt tiny ice particles landing on my back. I said goodbye to the sparrows. I wasn’t wearing my rain gear so I headed back to my vehicle. The sparrow said goodbye in return by singing, “Oh sam peabody, peabody, peabody”.  Now that’s a good memory to have.

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