Monday, May 30, 2005

Another road

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the six-forty morning saw me heading out the door and into the cool, overcast world outside. Tired of the greenbelt I had grown up in, I decided to venture into the great unknowns outside of Trails Neighborhood. This pursuit led me on a mile hike to the entrance of the neighborhood and then across Northwest Drive to the retirement center on the other side. On the way, two Great Blue Herons and three Great Egrets soared overhead, and a mockingbird, looking quite pleased with his repertoire, sang from a treetop.

Behind the retirement center, I had recently discovered, was a large portion of uncleared land. Cardinals sped over the wildflower-carpeted earth, while chickadees buzzed from inside the forest. I saw a small road, clearly a play place for pickup-truck drivers, and I decided to take it.

I walked for a while, enjoying the melodies around me and a few quick glances at birds. The road eventually led to a small back street near Dallas Christian and Baylor Medical Center. I started back, stopping at the bridge on Northwest to watch Barn Swallows.

On the way back through the neighborhood I paused at the soccer fields to watch two shrikes chasing each other

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A series of unfortunate events

Our neighborhood has suffered a loss. To read of the misadventures of little Lemony Snicket, OE as penned by Jenny, click here.

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Lemony Snicket didn't have a chance

Friday, May 27, 2005

A morning outdoors

It had been two weeks since I had done any serious birding. I had no class today, so this morning seemed a good one to devote to my new hobby.

I started by walking down to the golf course. Although I walked for a while, I didn’t really see anything. Chickadees, Cardinals, Blue Jays – I saw the basic birds but nothing more. By about eight, golfers were beginning to come out. Since they pay to be on the course, I decided I would relinquish my birding field to them.

Next, I walked in the opposite direction, down toward Audubon Park and Duck Creek. I saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret fly overhead. A hawk also flew by, but I was unable to identify it.

I saw a woodpecker perched on a telephone pole. It proved very uncooperative. I spent several minutes walking back and forth through nearly chin-high grass, but I never got a really good look. Later on, however, a Red-bellied Woodpecker came right into the open, allowing me a long look at it.
I walked as far as I could without going to the already-crowded park, but soon I had to turn around. I was back by nine – just in time to help feed my little brothers.

Friday, May 13, 2005

On my own

I’ve been feeling pretty desperate to go birding. Yesterday, I discovered that our tissue box had pictures of birds on it, and I felt so satisfied and happy. I took that as a hint that it was time to get out there and see what I could do on my own.

I got up at 7:30 and was stepping out the back door at around eight. The morning was cool, overcast, and muggy. I wasn’t really sure where I would go, so I began at the tree line behind our backyard. I followed it a while but didn’t see anything. The golf course behind the Hironagas' seemed a good option, so I meandered in that direction. I stopped to watch two male Cardinals fight. A female was on the ground, so perhaps that was the issue. I listened to their song for a while, trying to get it to stick. The basic one (if there is such a thing) is becoming familiar, but the little variations are confusing.

Upon arriving at the golf course, I heard several Chickadees. I searched for a while but was unable to spot anything. I also heard a repeating buzz. Again I searched but was only able to catch a short glimpse at a medium-sized bird with a crest.

I walked slowly, hoping to see something. A circle of trees in the middle of the golf course proved a popular place for Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Chickadees. I peered into their world – one that I could not enter but intrigued me nonetheless.

My walk continued, but soon the golfers started coming out. I had to rush past them in order to get out of their driving field; the time seemed right for heading back home.

On my way back, I stopped to try to get another glimpse at the buzzing bird. This stop yielded several good looks. The bird had a white breast and a gray back and crest. I guessed Tufted Titmouse. I looked it up online when I got home, and the one on the internet looked the same, a bit fluffier, but pretty similar nonetheless. The song clip didn’t sound at all like the one I heard though.

Overall, I was pleased with my birding experience this morning. Granted, I didn’t see much, but it was a good beginning. Bolt laid a good foundation, so hopefully now I can carry it forward on my own.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The last time

I’d thought that Wednesday would be my last time birding, but I was wrong. Bolt informed us that he would be going on Friday morning. Michaela decided to come along too. She said she had been wanting to see what it was like.

We met at 6:30 and headed to Bolt’s Buick for the last time. We drove slowly on the Hut Horton road. Dickcissels had arrived. Apparently their name comes from their song, but I don’t think it sounds like they are saying “dickcissel” at all. Several perched on branches near the roadside, and we stopped the car to get a close look.

Finally, I got to see one … actually, four. They were worth the wait. The first Painted Bunting was on the road. Although I couldn’t see the brilliancy of the color, I was still awed. The next one was especially visible. It perched on a branch, and we were able to see each distinct color.

A flock of kingbirds flew overhead. I really like those birds. A Phoebe flew around the cemetery, and Barn Swallows circled overhead.

Next, we went to my favorite place: the iron bridge road. The road hadn’t yet disappointed, and today was no exception. We saw a Chat and plenty of Summer Tanagers. Several White-crowned Sparrows hopped along the road in front of us. A White-eyed Vireo sang, its song punctuated with exclamation marks, and we saw several Pine Warblers.

All too soon, it was time to turn around. On the walk back to the car, I stole frequent glances behind me. A bit like Lot’s wife, perhaps. I’m going to miss the iron bridge road. I hope we get to come back someday.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Another chance

Bolt graduates this week. Since I don’t know how much birding I’ll get to do once he’s gone, I’ve been hoping that we would have another chance to go this week. This morning, my wish was fulfilled.

The weather was perfect, he said. We would keep in touch. At ten, the IM came: “Let’s blow this joint.” I grabbed my tennis shoes and binoculars and ran down the stairs to meet him in the Thomas lobby.

I was pleased to discover that we were going back to the iron bridge road. I love that place.

We heard many Painted Buntings throughout the day. I even caught a few fleeting glimpses of their bright colors as they dashed across the road. Nothing more though. I can’t wait to REALLY see one. I look at their pictures all the time. Someday…

After hearing its funny sounds for a while, we finally saw a Chat. I liked it just as much as I had liked its songs the week before.

When we got to the bridge, I saw a black and white bird soaring past. Later, Bolt spotted an Osprey sitting in a tree. It looked like the bird I had seen earlier. Egrets were also plentiful.

Past the bridge, we saw several warblers. We found two Blackpoll Warblers. They didn’t boast any of the bright colors that I’ve come to associate with warblers, but they were striking black and white little birds. We also saw a Tennessee Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler.

A small clearing granted us a nice, long look at a White-eyed Vireo. Sensitive Brier sprawled out on the ground, and we bent down and stroked its fern-like leaves.

Bolt had an exit interview at one, so we were forced to turn reluctantly around. We got distracted several times on the way back, but eventually, the real world’s pull became so strong that we had to pick up our pace and ignore the songs all around us.

The interview was cancelled. We could have seen more birds.