I love birding. That is zero surprise to anyone who knows me, well or as an acquaintance. There is something about birding that keeps me active and returning to the same park, beach, and even specific trees time and time again. Some would think this is a sickness, but truly it's the thrill of seeing these magnificent feathered things high in the trees, fresh in from lands so far away, here because they, every trip ,need that same tree, beach or park time and time again.
Being out among birds helps me feel connected to the natural world. It lets me escape the day-to-day. When I think I have it bad, I'm not the one who flew hundreds or thousands of miles in all kind of conditions, fleeing predators, avoiding obstacles, I marvel at those feats and admire birds greatly.
There is also this sense of discovery. Sometimes birds take a wrong turn, literally get blown off course. Sometimes a brazen individual flies a bit further than the rest. Sometimes another gets caught up in a flock and stays with them for the long haul and passes their stop. Who truly knows what, but sometimes a bird ends up in a place it usually isn't, and seeing those birds is outright THRILLING. That happened to me yesterday, but it also put me in an odd position mentally and ethically.
I always volunteer to assist with the Horseshoe crab monitoring through NYC Audubon, I look forward to it. What a special way to be involved in science and contribute to the work this amazing organization is doing. I like to always monitor at a few spots because they can differ so greatly, last night I was signed up for Big Egg Marsh. After a stop at New Park Pizza (the best Pizza, btw.) and some light birding at Jamaica Bay with my friend and colleague, we were honestly stoked to have found a secretive and skulky black-billed cuckoo and have some nice photo ops of a house wren, belting out its song.
Trying to not be late to our assignment, we got down to the marsh in time. I noticed there was some construction, the parking lot was much smaller. Even when I am not birding, I keep an eye out for things. So I looked twice when I saw a round, compact, but hefty bird on long legs perched atop one of the fence posts. The shape was one I knew, from books and documentaries...