So, Spring. I feel like she’s trying to arrive, but in fits and starts and places in between. But I’ve been out and about, and there are indications of the liveliness of the foresty parts slowly unfolding. A new development is that I purchased an Audubon app for my ‘old’ iPhone. I recently upgraded, thank you very much, to the much sought after iPhone 4 (for 99c) and decided that, though I normally eschew the teknos when out on excursions, a digital field guide may be an option better than the lugging around of a bunch of books and/or trying to remember what some bird looked and sounded like by the time I get home and can look it up. Scrupulous note taking does help; but still, the not-knowing tends to be distracting.
So, I got this here application and so far it’s been pretty great. I’ve used it primarily for birds, and the thing that I really like about it is that it also provides various recordings of the calls and songs of whatever bird one may be looking at. This is really quite excellent because I often hear them before I see them, or..more often than not, I’m familiar with how a certain bird looks (even though I may not know what species it is) but I have no idea what it sounds like. And walking along you tend to hear them more than you see them. So, in the past couple times that I’ve been out, I can now identify by sight and sound the Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Black-Capped Chickadee, Dark-Eyed Junco, Cardinal, Robin, Belted Kingfisher (of which I saw another just the other day), BlueJay, and Eastern Bluebird. Also, what was definitely a variety of Warbler.
That’s not the real kicker, though – what is very cool is that, on a couple occasions, I’ve been able to use the recordings to actually draw the bird I’m trying to identify closer, or at the very least, keep it around long enough to get a good look. I had the Red-Bellied Woodpecker flying back and forth a few times while I stood in between two trees, a Junco, and a really handsome cardinal all hanging around and looking for some mysterious and new arrival. I will say, though, that I don’t keep up the charade for too long just because it takes a lot more energy for them to fly around confused than for me to stand there amused, and they have to work a lot harder for their stores than I work for my own, so it seems a game best played in moderation.
My bird list is growing slowly, and I have a pretty good idea about a number of different species that I haven’t completely identified. However, in addition to the ones mentioned above, I’ve also seen in this past year, the Great Blue Heron, Great Horned Owl, Red-Tailed Hawk, Oriole, Indigo Bunting, Tree Swallow, Red-Winged Blackbird, Goldfinch, Green Heron, and a Green Egret. I also saw a Bald Eagle flying through the trees in Wisconsin, and a heard a rafter of turkeys calling to one another in the dawn at Starved Rock.
Ultimately, what is significant in all of this is that though I could have identified more than a few of these birds a year ago, I could not have identified but a couple by their song. Nor, if not for me taking the time to really do this thing, would I have seen these different birds as consistently as I have over the past 8 or 9 months. That’s something to consider, when it comes time to sit and consider things, and something that I consider to be…good.
Last July, when I first came across the small ‘prairie’ by Salt Creek Woods, I was so distracted by my inability to make any sense of all the chatter about me..the communiques, the alarms, and the songs. Even in the Porkies I didn’t know until later that the lonely call that I was hearing was that of a Common Loon. I am slowly, slowly becoming more attuned. I can walk along the trail now, and when I hear a particular song, I don’t have to stop and try to find the source; I can keep walking along and know that over there is friend Chickadee.
I intended to say something about the ramps, which are wild leeks, which is from where Chicago received its name, I believe…but there’s not a lot to say, and I got a little carried away with the birds. So, I’ll just say that I found some ramps, and was really impressed by how the outer skin appeared all lacy n’ whatnot. I’ll try to get a decent picture up soon. Also, there are a LOT of ticks about. I went out with the Boy last weekend, and we both got pretty well slathered..well, maybe not slathered, but there were at least 10 to 12 between the two of us, and the dog. Not really too stoked about that.
But I am pretty happy about the birds.