As you know, excellent birders rise before the sun and tiptoe quietly into nature to set up their spotting scopes and get their cameras and tripods ready to start clicking at first light. They’re rewarded with sparkling photos of remarkable birds with soulful eyes, splashed at just the right angle with the golden light of dawn.
But I’m not one of those. I sleep in and have quiet time with my cats and my journal, do my stretches, eventually wander down for breakfast. I usually get around to loading up my gear and making it out to the park about the crack of 10 am. That’s when the air’s warmed up a bit so that insects are moving around, so birds can find them and I can find the birds…but mostly I just like to move slowly, to enter the day contemplatively.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was stretching, I was chastising myself for being so slug-like, since it was a rare lovely day for this time of year: sunny and mild and alluring. I just knew that somewhere deep in the forest a beautiful early bird was catching a particularly picturesque worm, and I was going to miss it.
But then a movement in the hawthorne outside my bedroom window caught my eye, so I grabbed my camera from the next room and took a look.
Warblers! Beautiful bright warblers like avian flowers, hopping among the bright green leaves and red berries, lit by the low sun, not three feet from my bedroom window. I had to look up one of them whom I hadn’t seen in years, yellow with a dark eye mask: a Townsend’s Warbler, probably pausing—undeniably picturesquely—on his way down to Central America.
I spent most of the next hour taking pictures of the Townsend’s Warbler and then the Yellow Warbler who showed up next, with an occasional shift to the other window to try to catch the Red-Breasted Sapsucker and Downy Woodpecker who were working the huge Atlas Spruce to the west.
Slugdom had finally paid off: a two-warbler, two-woodpecker morning without even leaving my bedroom…now that’s what I call excellent birding.