Today my parents rolled into town on their way home from a trip to Arizona. It was nice to visit with them even for only a short while. Evan and I always like to go out birding when Grandpa is around, but I didn’t get home until late this evening as I had to supervise detention. Plus it was rainy anyway. It wasn’t looking like there would be any birding this visit. My dad had a successful day of house birding once he got to our place. He picked up two lifers – the Harris’s Sparrow and one of our three, yes three, Indigo Buntings.
Our yard has been a rainbow of color lately. Red birds, blue birds, yellow birds, orange birds, black birds, and brown birds. It is absolutely beautiful. Yesterday I had an Indigo Bunting, Northern Cardinal, and American Goldfinch all in my field of vision while looking at the yard with the binoculars.
Tonight around the time I should have been getting Evan ready for bed, the sun came out. With an hour until Evan’s official bed time, the three of us guys decided to do a quick birding walk at Bergquist. There could still be warblers.
When we pulled up, I saw another car there and someone else who decided to do some birding during the break in the weather. It was Steve. We hadn’t planned on meeting up – bird brains just think alike, I guess. The four of us walked the path checking out every flutter of wings. Right away I found a male Blackburnian Warbler with his flaming orange head popping in my binoculars.
One bird that Steve has been trying to get for 2013 and that my dad has never seen is the Scarlet Tanager – a bright red bird with black wings. We found the female at Bergquist over the weekend, and we had a male in our own yard on Saturday. As we reached the halfway point in our walk, Evan shouted and pointed, “Guys, I see a tanager!”
“A male or a female?” I asked excitedly.
“A male!” My heart beat a little faster. This is a good bird to see, and two people in our party needed it. I couldn’t see it. Evan pointed and said, “There it goes!”
The bird landed right above us all giving us incredible views. Evan nailed the ID, all right. I didn’t get a picture because I was being fussy in my set-up. I hastily photographed my yard bird over the weekend and got some less-than stellar shots. Well, this bird flew again. I tried to pull up on it again, but it again flew away. This time it was out of sight. Oh, well, it was still a thrill to see and share with the others. A check mark for Grandpa and a check mark for Steve. Good eyes, Evan.
Moments after this, another familiar birder came ambling down the path. It was Randy. We were now a party of five and had plenty of eyes, optics, and experience to catch anything. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to check out. Even though the birds weren’t plentiful, Randy and Evan had a good time joking back and forth. Randy likes to jokingly threaten to take away Evan’s binoculars or poke his eyes out if Evan’s life list starts to catch up to his.
Maybe the birds will be there next time. The company was great, though, and we did have a couple notable sightings. I was encouraged by Randy’s report of hearing a Black-throated Green Warbler today at Bergquist. That is one of my big targets for this spring/summer. To me, good birding is the thrill of seeing cool, familiar birds and the hope of finding new birds. Tonight we enjoyed the former, and the latter keeps us going out on more adventures.