Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Birding in my Backyard

I inherited my Dad's Peterson Western Birds Field Guide and my grandma's hand-sewn parrot cloth pocket-sling to carry it in. His "RLH" initials are inked on the top edge of the book. I use my husband's heavy cumbersome binoculars to spy anything that flies and lands in my view.
When Escalante becomes hot we head up into the mountains. Posey Lake is a favorite lake full of fish and lively birds. The lake's surface had the typical swimmers: wigeons, coots, grebes, mallards, a red bodied duck with a blue bill. My field guide said he was a ruddy duck with it's plain brown mate. As my mate fished I took a trek around Posey Lake with the binoculars tugging down my neck. Finches flitted by and robins bobbed under pine trees. A yellow bellied, red headed bird flew onto a Ponderosa branch. A western tanager!
I watched my dog Rocquette do her own birding. She swam franticly toward the ducks with long strands of grasses stringing along her body, like a streaking comet. The mallards were unfazed by the dog's pursuits, their web feet glided smoothly away from the persistent dog.
My girlfriend, Melanie, saw a pygmy-owl flying down her lane one night last May. She's a practiced birder after our annual Audubon Christmas Bird count. What a treat for her.
A freak spring snowstorm pushed a few exotic smaller waders to our local Wide Hollow reservoir. We witnessed an avocet, royal terns, and a couple of black bellied plovers hung out along the shore. Gulls darted around the uncommon flock of birds.
Our neighborhood female northern harrier swoops low near our house, usually daily, searching for the exposed cottontail rabbits. Hopefully, she won't mistake my little Jack Russell Terrier as easy prey. We have a pair of golden eagles breeding up the road where I have found their aerie in the rock band in the face of the Kaiparowitis plateau.
Birds come and go as they migrate through our area. I sometimes wonder if my Dad encourages the birds to cross my path from his position in heaven or if it's me just waking up to the world of birds. Whatever. I'm glad I'm alive and alert to any birds that I may see or hear in my world.

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