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Missing birds

September 27, 2012

The last few days I spent a few hours at the Old Cut field station of the Long Point Bird Observatory on Long Point on Lake Erie.  There were tens of thousands of birds there.  Hundreds of Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) warblers feeding on a profusion of insects from the ground to the highest branches.  The flood of Myrtles was balanced by abundant Red-breasted Nuthatches and a good variety of of other warblers, vireos, kinglets, and other species.  My mind was swimming with images of birds flitting, hovering and darting amongst the foliage, groups of 3 or 4 flickers or several Robins sailing past over head, and clouds of blackbirds wheeling up from the marsh.   The softened chip notes of the myrtle warblers, the occasional half- song of a Common Yellow throat, and the yelps of gull over the lake blended in with the rustle of from the Cottonwood leaves.   Ah, Long Point and its birds.

Then I return to our apartment.   And silence.   Well not exactly – there is the din of traffic, the slamming of a door somewhere, the siren of another emergency vehicle.   Am I losing motivation to keep going with my big year?  I have not seen a new species here is weeks.   I heard a few the other night, but nothing seen.   A few nights back, before going to Long Point,  I woke to the call notes of Swainson’s Thrushes.  I know that I had identifed them in a dream, and as has happened many times in the past, I woke to confirm the observations.  Swainson’s Thrush calls a lot during is migratory flights.  In certain conditions they fly low, not far above the houses and apartments, and tree tops, and if you are familiar with their call note with its slight upward inflection, you will hear them.  I heard many around 6 am that morning, and one Gray-cheeked Thrush, whose call not has a slight downward inflection.   Later in the day, as I walked through the neighbourhood, I heard a Swainson’s call notes coming from a large round coniferous shrub.  It was hidden in the foliage, perhaps contemplating the next leg of its migration to South America.   I mustn’t tell Cris about this, as she would be envious.

So, two new species, and one observer trying to find motivation to get up early, and return from work in time to watch over the river, just above the house tops.    Long Point has made me miss birds, but also motivated me to do what I believe happens if I invest time in observing – I will observing new species.

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