Sunday the 19th.....unlike Saturday the 18th. Do you remember Saturday where the wind was harmless and temp was 70? Well...Sunday the definition of 'wind' was appropriate as many birds were chased down.
But 15 of us did the walk and now we can talk the talk. Tom Baxter led the group and our first stop was the beach. We poked our head up from the dunes and managed to see a couple of oyster catchers nestled behind an outcropping which provided shelter from the wind. They appeared satisfied to sit and wait it out. And of course, not to mention New Jersey Boobies far out to sea, otherwise knows as Northern Gannets.
Surprisingly with all of the wind, the windiest locale was not on the bare beach but on the walkway between Bunker Pond and the beachhead. The wind just funneled it's way in and kept many birds deep in the vegetation. Our 'haunting' bird this day had to be a Palm Warbler with the image provided by Tom B. We first caught piece-meal sighting of this bird on the walkway between Bunker Pond and the beach head and that bird managed to follow us all the way around the walk. It showed itself in glimpses only on that walkway...... managed to enlighten our view just a bit more mid-way thru in the pine trees, and then as we sssss'ed our way in return fashion to the lot, there it was again although this time it displayed well for us. It sat up nicely on this twigged bush showing us in splendor the colors of spring.
There is nothing like the mating colors of spring.....the Tuxedo'd allure of the Yellow-rumped Warbler to the testosterone'd Swan who swam in speed to meet 'someone' in the neighboring water. It makes us "humans" feel like "teenagers" (an oxymoron) Ah yes....the memories of teaching school refresh my mind casually and soon disappear, for there is no reason to bring up years of hyper, hormonic individuals.....yet....I find myself surrounded now in days like this field trip, firmly pitted against hyper warblers, testosterone swans, hormonic gnatcatchers, kinglets on a sugar high..... The circle of life returns....
I noticed on the Forum where Diane spoke to the recent field trip up to Salem County and among other awesome birds seen...so were the larks...the Horned Larks and the Meadowlarks.
Horned Larks are so difficult to get close to. They flitter away from one at the drop of a dime. In the west as I would travel down country roads...the larks would just spring up from all over and settle down 'over there' someplace in the harrowed land. Although at times I could use the car as a screen and kind of sneak up on them, it seemed that the minute I pulled out my camera, they seem to have this inherent sense of not wanting their picture taken. I suppose too many paparazzi's......
Now Meadow Larks now.....well....they hold a special place in my heart and memory. Western Meadow Larks differ in both looks and sound from Eastern Meadow Larks and if you go into the Dakotas and down, you will usually have the opportunity to see both. I remember outside of Scottsbluff, Nebraska on my way north to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (Lakota Sioux) in South Dakota Badland areas, I would just stop on the quiet roads and listen. If the wind was against you, well...the sounds were drowned but if the wind was with ya, you could hear the intermingling of both the western and eastern varieties of Meadowlarks.
On the tri-corned area of Washington, Idaho and Oregon....my parents had a house built in the early 60's overlooking horse pastures and beyond that, just wheat fields. The Western Meadowlarks loved the horse pasture and if one allowed their mind to drift and just listen,the uniqueness of this melancholy call would pierce any summer dusk or dawn. Around 2010, a developer started to build a few houses on those same pastures where I would play sandlot baseball as a kid among the horses and horse manure ( which I would collect during the summer for our garden). The Meadow Larks disappeared--- my dad would tell me. But no....they did not. The larks are still around but my dad was too aged to hear or to venture into the fields any longer. And yet still, now when I visit the homestead, I hear the call of the Meadow Larks and think of my dad.....a treasured gift of memory from a simple bird.