One of my New Year’s resolutions needs to be that I will write more in this blog. I really enjoy it and, logging in just now, I didn’t realize it has been since August that I have written.
With the end of the year approaching, I was thinking of compiling a Top Ten Birding Excursions list. The more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking of a specific day and how it is kind of a reflection of 2019 as a whole.
Summer Solstice 2019
Ryan and I headed east with a few goals in mind: to meet Kim in Amherst for Delores’ celebration of life, to hunt dragonflies/damselflies and birds. We stopped at Mill Hollow and hit some small ponds. Ryan was zoning in on a Unicorn Clubtail, among some other odes, and I was searching for butterflies.
Little Wood Satyr
After hitting a few locations, we checked the time and decided to move on to Amherst.
Kim, our executive director, had lost her mentor, Delores, in May. She, in true Delores fashion, had planned her own memorial and it was to be held on summer solstice. Ryan and I decided to go there to support Kim. I had only met Delores a few times, but a lot of the groundwork she and Kim laid out has made Black Swamp Bird Observatory blossom over the years.
We got to Delores’ and only really knew Kim and Kenn. They were so happy that we made the trek to pay our respects to Delores. Delores’ boyfriend, Ray, was there and seemed in good spirits. The garage was lined with Delores’ books and everyone was encouraged to take what they wanted. It was a great spread of nature, science fiction, and science related books. I came away with American Indians: Myths and Legends and Another Roadside Attraction (insisted by Kim).
Kim told us that earlier in the day while they were setting everything up for the gathering, a Pileated Woodpecker visited the yard – a new yard bird for the house. “How fitting,” Kim said. Delores, in many ways, was like a Pileated; strong and persistent with a demanding presence.
After visiting for a while, we decided to head to our next destination. We wanted to hit a few more parks before the sun set for the day. We said our goodbyes and headed to the Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation. It was right outside of Amherst, but once you get down the paved path to the woods and river, you’d never know you were right outside the city.
There we got some great images of an Ebony Jewelwing who seemed very content basking in a small ray of sun on a leaf.
The creek was reminiscent of Mill Hollow and Bacon Woods; cliffs and shale. We walked a small trail that was next to the creek, but didn’t really find anything. After standing on the bridge and watching the creek pass by for a while, we decided to head back west towards home.
Ryan wanted to make one last stop: Edison Woods. It is a place he has been before and usually yielded some good dragonflies. After a lot of “umm, I think this road” and “no! this road!” we ended up in a little dirt parking lot across from a path that looked like no one had been to in a long time.
We start down the path and it is really beautiful. There’s a tunnel of trees, the sun is peeking in between the branches and leaves. There was still a lot of standing water from the wet spring we’d had and the water was even over the road in some spots. Me being me, I start to slow my walking because (Murphy’s Law) I knew I would slip and fall if I didn’t. Ryan, full speed, is ahead of me and suddenly stops in his tracks.
“Do you hear that?” he said.
“Of course not!” I thought to myself while audibly saying no.
As much as I feel in-tuned and interested in nature, I know Ryan, and all of my other co-workers, know waaaaaaay more about birds than I do. I am improving, but always defer to Ryan.
He said he thought he heard a Barred Owl. He starts calling and sure enough it called back. He was trying to get me to spot it, but it was tough. Standing behind me, he patiently explained where to look until I spotted it. I snapped a photo thinking there would be no way it would turn out because the owl was so far away and hiding in the leaves. I was so excited! I had never seen a Barred Owl before and I was, as always, thankful for his patience in helping me see it.
The top photo of the Barred Owl is the shot that I got that day. It turned out way better than I expected, but is by no means a perfect photo. Even though its not aesthetically perfect, it reminds me of this day and I will cherish it.
We continued down the path and a little meadow opened up. We saw a lot of Widow Skimmers there. The grass was tall and the sun was getting lower in the sky. We trekked around and then decided to head back to the car through the tree tunnel.
Ryan at Edison Woods
I feel this is a good reflection on the year because this year I have spent a lot of time with my work family. Kim has become someone I admire and respect even more than before. She works hard while wearing her heart on her sleeve and that is an endearing way to live. My love for outside, even when I thought it was already at its max, has grown into a… I don’t think that I can appropriately describe: respect, way of life, all encompassing admiration? And Ryan, well, spending time with him is okay I guess 🙂