Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Beauty irresistable

The days have been glorious of late, bringing with them warm sunshine and restorative breezes. Sometimes, their pull is too strong, and I have to respond.

I meant to get straight to work after class today. I even started walking to my room. I was weak, though, and soon found myself listening to the water trickling down the rocks at the pond. The picnic table was nearby, the perfect place for working. But, alas, I was weak again. Plopping my bag down, I left the table, never once looking back.

I couldn’t find too many birds at first, and I wondered if 90 degrees was still too hot for them. Crickets scampered at my feet, though, and a few butterflies played among the flowers.

Then I heard a happy yelp, and I looked up to see a Red-bellied Woodpecker busy at a tree. He looked smaller than most I’ve seen, but perhaps he wasn’t. At first, his red head was barely visible, but then he turned, allowing me to see its full brilliancy. A few doves fluttered by.

Eventually, I resumed my wander down the path. I saw briefly what I supposed to be a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but it dashed through the fence before I had a chance to look.

The bell tower chimed, reminding me of that unnatural thing called time, and I turned back. The woodpecker and the doves detained me for a few moments, but I soon continued.

I thought I spotted movement, so I stopped. A bird flew to a further tree, and I hoped he would return. He did, and he proved to be a Downy Woodpecker. I watched him climbing upside down, hammering his beak against the wood. I could see faintly the movement of the doves in the trees across the path, and I knew the Red-bellied Woodpecker was with them.

Then I really had to leave. So I did, reluctantly.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The unknown

Today I was walking to class, and I thought I saw a bird on the ground. I walked slowly up to it and began to doubt. Perhaps it was really a leaf. But no, it was indeed a bird, a Brown Thrasher.

He wasn’t afraid of me, and I came quite close. He pecked at a worm for a while and then waddled closer to me. His feathers were ruffled and patched. His beak opened and shut, as if he were singing, but no sound came out. He never stopped doing this, and he never flew away.

I wonder what he was doing. I wonder why.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


The last five months have been characterized by a desire to be able to once again ask “What’s that?” or “Why this?” and have an immediate answer. Finally, my longing was satiated. Bolt came through Longview on the way to Dallas, and Fjord’s eagerness to try birding with the expert soon reserved the following morning for the hobby.

I’d never skipped a class for pleasure before. But I did this morning. It was worth it.

With two pairs of binoculars between the three of us, we left Thomas lobby at seven and drove to 254, where swifts and cardinals greeted our arrival. Titmice and chickadees were abundant, familiar birds from home. Blue jays flopped past, and crows cawed, sometimes flying intently overhead.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets were there, but we never got more than a few brief glimpses of them. A Carolina Wren also called from the brush; he proved more willing to be seen than the kinglets. Thrashers called from high up in the trees, and two Pileated Woodpeckers flew right above us.

Later, a Coopers Hawk flew by, scattering a few doves. I saw an unfamiliar bird, and Bolt said it was an Indigo Bunting in its fall plumage. Its pale blue body and brown head were faded remnants of its spring glory, but its shape was still familiar. Another unfamiliar bird sat on a tree far away. I passed my binoculars to the Guru, and he quickly identified it as a Kestral Falcon.

After a brief walk by the pond, we drove back to campus. Throughout the morning, I made full use of my opportunity to ask any question I wanted -- questions I’d been wondering about for some time and questions that randomly popped into my head, too small to put in an email -- and have an immediate response. Answers are satisfying.