Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Old Friends and New Journeys

As reported by Nan Dietert

Old friends wear well and lately old friends have been responsible for my well-being, both physically and spiritually. These friends have come in two forms; both human and non-human.

Late in the summer I was in need of some knee repair. I needed two good knees for the fall migration and I needed some time for healing, but I was beginning to run out of time. My friends began to offer help on every level. Friends from Austin, where I wished to have the surgery done, took care of me and offered their homes, their support, and home delivery – if needed. And while I took care of our parrot, Lyndon, my friend and husband, took care of all my responsibilities at home, our remarkable Scottish-fold cat, and my beloved willow trees; increasing the amount of water carried to them, from 11 to 17 gallons each evening! My friends in Port Aransas offered anything and everything to speed my recovery. And the birds from Central Texas to the Coastal Bend – filled my inner reservoirs and brought me peace and strength. All of these friends make up my world. These things are my world.

A birder’s world expands though, with the coming of any migration and the fall migration has now begun in earnest. Like birders everywhere, I’ve been waiting for the fall migration since the spring migration ended. The birds are now coming through in numbers large enough that almost everyone is experiencing migrants in their backyards and our birding sites are teaming with birds from a large variety of species.

“Firsts”, of all kinds are showing up on everyone’s check list: the first Northern Harrier, first Peregrine Falcon, first large groups of Blue-winged Teal, first Mississippi Kites, first Sora rail and so on.

Many songbirds came in with last Saturday’s front. When the wind shifted, it was an easy “freight-train” for any migrants that were fattening up and staging to our north. Baltimore Orioles now joined their Orchard Oriole-cousins, and begged to compete in shear numbers for the most numerous beauties in the garden. Many vireos and too many flycatchers to mention came in along with warblers, buntings, tanagers, kingbirds, Dickcissals, and Lark Sparrows! What a sight for a birder’s eyes. There have been so many Yellow-breasted Chats, Mourning Warblers, and Canada Warblers in the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond, that I am truly unable to estimate their numbers. They are at every turn and they are flying across your field of view as you count the birds in front of you!

A few days ago, our first Chuck-will’s-widow of the season came into Paradise Pond and began to hunt while we were watering the small willow trees. Their hunting techniques had been described to me but I’d never seen them before. Like all of birding, it was an experience to remember for a lifetime.

The shear numbers of Black Terns that have recently stacked-up in our area have been remarkable. Look up any time of the day and they are traversing our island – everyday – all day long, and they have been for months.

These birds, that we share our existence with, move into and through our area twice each year. They have sensed “the fall promise” – a promise of food, rest, and survival – if they will travel south across parts of the globe, unknown to them many of them, and led by instincts we are still studying and learning to appreciate. Follow them on their epic journey south and wait for their return in the spring. If you wish, make them a part of your world. Go birding.

1 comment:

  1. Nan and Lyndon are great people. They took us on a birding tour a couple of years ago. They are very professional and provided us with a super educational experience. We took many award winning pictures of a wide variety of birds.