Saturday, June 18, 2005

A day with the birds

Our home sprang to life at five o’clock this morning. My parents and four of my siblings were going to pick blueberries. I, however, was off to expand my knowledge of the birding world.

Lynn and I met in Benbrook and headed to Benbrook Lake. The name conjures up images of a morning sun sparkling on blue water, trees fringing the lake’s edges. Such was not to be our lot, however.

Despite its dearth of water, the park proved a pleasant place, aided by a cool morning breeze and cheery sunshine. Titmice buzzed in a tree at the park, and a small brown bird piqued our curiosity by lending us a few short glances.

We wandered over a small bridge and watched what we supposed to be a Phoebe play on a log near the water. The bridge spilled onto a golf course. There was no fence, so we entered. We watched titmice and soon identified the brown bird to be a Carolina Wren.

The golf course’s supply of birds was abundant, but we were soon informed that we could not be merely strolling around the green. The gentleman offered us a ride to the edge of the course, and, presently, we were treading on permissible terrain.

We decided to stick to the trail after that. Herons and egrets flew overhead, woodpeckers worked on a tree, and barn swallows circled a field.

After a brief stop at a campground, we made our way to the Fort Worth Nature Refuge. One of its attractions was a large window overlooking a courtyard of birdfeeders. Chickadees, titmice, blackbirds, and hummingbirds claimed this place as their summer home.

We spent a long time at the refuge. An unfamiliar bird turned out to be a Great-crested Flycatcher. We saw a Prothonotary Warbler near the boardwalk and many, many herons. White-eyed Vireos took delight in tormenting us throughout the day. We had plenty of opportunities to become familiar with their song but were only able to catch one brief glimpse of the bird. This perversity earned the species the new name of “Black-eyed Mockingbird.”

On the way back, we stopped briefly to enjoy the air-conditioned view from the picture window. This time, several painted buntings were visiting. The lighting was perfect, and we were able to enjoy detailed looks at the brilliant birds.

We tried finding several other places after we left the refuge. The esteemed people of Benbrook, however, do not seem overly fond of street signs, and we soon discovered the futility of trying to find our way around a town lacking these insignificant bits of metal.

We parted at five, after a tiring, but very pleasing day of birding. Our search yielded 33 species. Although some might question the success of such a number, I can’t be dissatisfied. We were, after all, two novices in summertime. The day provided plenty of opportunity for verifying songs and markings and familiarizing ourselves with other necessities of birding.