I was enjoying my first cup of coffee as I looked out the window into my backyard. A strong wind was scattering the leaves in every direction. I was planning on taking an adventurous hike in the woods but I'm not a fan of cold, windy days so I wasn't sure if I wanted to deal with those conditions. Besides, my birders logic told me that wooded areas might not be the most productive habitat this time of the year. I might be better off taking a ride up to the Windsor area where I could find some less common species like Snow Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, or Snow Buntings. I might even be able to watch them from inside my car with my heater on.I was backing out of my driveway when the soft rock classic "Against The Wind" came on the radio. Some of Bob Seger's music has a way of connecting with my spirit on an emotional level. Hearing this song inspired me to ignore the cold weather and head for the wooded trails of the Maromas in Middletown.
One of the lines in the song Against The Wind is -Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then- I can relate to that line when it comes to birding. When you first start birding you don't know much. Every place and every bird is an adventure. It doesn't matter where you go birding or why. Once you start to acquire birding knowledge it can cause you to analyze things too much. You start to think about where you can find the "best" or largest number of species instead of just taking things as they come. On this particular morning I found 4 Fox Sparrows scratching through the leaves for food near some old train tracks. They may have been the least common species of the day but not necessarily my favorite sighting.
Beauty is not in the rarity of the bird you see but in the rarity of the moment itself. I've seen several birds over the years that could be considered rare but all of those birds still exist. Rare moments become extinct the as soon as they pass by you. They can only be recalled through memories, and even memories don't always last forever.
There were several highlights of the day for me. I had close encounters with deer stomping through the woods on 3 different occasions. A Bald Eagle raced over my head at high speed. I was startled by a Great Blue Heron emerging from a swamp just a few feet from where I was walking. I came across a cluster of 20 Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadees squabbling loudly with each other for several minutes.This chickadee seemed fearless as I watched it pick through some plant seeds. It even flew toward my camera lens a couple of times.
Birding against the wind turned out to be the right decision after all.
Here is a link to a YouTube clip of
"Against the Wind" by Bob Seger for those of you who aren't familiar with the song.