I and the Bird

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Big 2-0-0

I'll get to that in a second.

Kate and I have always sort of competed over the red-headed woodpecker. We both agreed that it was a beautiful bird and, since it was uncommon enough for sightings to be unreliable, we teased each other out loud about who would see it first. It was fun for awhile...but she never really had a chance. One day in January I rolled up on the National Arboretum, took one look through the windshield, and dialed Kate to gloat. Good times. She still wanted to see one, though, and while she was visiting this week I wanted to take her over. 2 seconds out of the car at the parking lot by the Capital Columns and there he was, perched like a champion on the tallest tree on the hill. Best damn bird in the city.

Afterwards, Kate went shopping with some ladies and I went to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to look for the rusty blackbirds and fox sparrows that had been reported there. I had a good feeling when I got there because there were birds absolutely everywhere. Trees, bushes, ponds, swamps, dirt and, as one would expect, the air. I started down the river trail (I think that's what it's called...the one where you walk for like a mile and expect it to loop around but instead you have to walk all the way back) and after just a few minutes startled a large group of blackbirds into the trees. A look through the binoculars confirmed my ID...Rusty Blackbirds. My 200th bird! There will be wine and spirits all around! A spectacular feast!

(The picture didn't come out so hot...whatcanyado)

It's good to finally get that over with. The rest of the trip was good, I saw a glossy ibis in one of the ponds, an early migrant in these parts. There were also some shorbirds in the middle of the big swamp at the end of the boardwalk that I couldn't identify that definitely weren't snipe or killdeer. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow and try for 201...

[Final note: what does a guy have to do to see a goddamn Fox Sparrow? I've looked everywhere. One day...]
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Location: Portland, ME

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