If I had the authority or possessed the alchemy to keep the refuge to myself for a few hours on a morning like this, I would do it. Even though it would be selfish and contrary to everything I believe in, and all the generosity of spirit that I take pride in, I would do it.
Later on, I birded for a while with a stranger, who I like to think was now a friend, and then with a pair of old friends. Yet this first hour of solitude in the stillness of a cool fall day — the sky a bright endless blue — in the rising sun, I was engrossed in the adventure of picking birds from the sudden movement in the trees or trying to follow them as they darted into the underbrush. It was nothing short of magic.
The stranger was Kathy Dia who put me on the first Brown Creeper of the day which was enough to qualify her as a friend of mine.
Most of the rest of the morning was spent birding with old friends Bob and Bonnie Buxton. We spent nearly the entire morning at Hellcat. It wasn’t jumping and it wasn’t quiet and, as expected, the birds were difficult to get on. Although I am a sure it was our imagination the birds down low seemed to quickly vanish onto the deep corners of the underbrush and the ones up high seemed to be able to put themselves between us and the sun. It was a struggle, it was frustrating, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The list for the day was interesting but not spectacular: eight species of warbler, including my first Palm Warbler of the season, three species of vireo, including a Philadelphia Vireo. This has been the best year for Philadelphia Vireo, for me anyway, for a very long time. I also found two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in the S Curves and my first junco of the season at Hellcat. “
The season marches on. Look for Doug’s book, “Reflections of a Golden-winged Warbler,” scheduled to be released in November. It is a collection of Dougâ’s essays, including many that I have shared with you in this column through the years.
Steve Grinley is the owner of Bird Watcher’s Supply and Gift at the Route 1 traffic circle in Newburyport and the Nature Shop at Joppa Flats.