May 9, 2010
Mother’s Day and nearly the whole day spent doing the spring bird count. I started in my own back yard here just over the Steuben County line. It was thirty-two degrees, with a dusting of snow on the shingles of the sunroom, and no sun to be seen. I was afraid no birds were to be seen either, but those migrants are tough! Starting out below the pond, in the wet, old meadow, overgrown with thorn apple trees, I found yellow rump, magnolia, a black and white, and a Nashville busily stoking their tiny furnaces with whatever nearly invisible bits of nourishment they were finding amidst the fearsome three inch needles. They weren’t doing much singing, just industriously eating! On the way to the spring, a robin flew out of a cavity in a red maple and I could see a cluster of brand new, bobbing, gaping beaks in the nest. Up in the horse pasture, the bluebird couple was perched on box and fence wire, mama not brooding yet, I guess. The bobolinks were back in Jerry Smith’s field, swinging on grass stems and singing their phoenix phoenix phoenix song. By the time I came in at 9:15, my fingers were hurting with cold and I needed to warm up.
At ten, Fred and I met up with Ronnie, Lauren, and the two Eds for a Potter County, PA count. Because of the chilly day, we did a lot of drive-by, listen-out-the-window birding and were counting many commoners (a flock of 70+ crows, 158 robins), but feeling a trifle disappointed. Still the back roads of northern PA were enchanting. Then we stopped at an old homestead, its cellar hole surrounded by a carpet of budding lily-of-the-valley, a sentinel white lilac bush nearby, and many of those hardy little white jonquils with the orange centers that the old farmers’ wives planted. The gully across the road was filled with willow thickets and old apple trees—and busy with birds: oriole, rose breasted grosbeak, magnolia warbler, ovenbird, redstart, and posing, peering curiously at us, and singing lustily: a northern parula! It was a first for all but one of us. I thought Fred might be hooked when he said, “It’s much better than the photo.” (in Stokes)
Came home thoroughly chilled despite the fact that I was wearing my cold weather cross country skiing garb. Standing around trying to spot birds is not the same as moving! Fred made up a fire and cooked steak and potatoes and fed me one of his fabulous salads. Unfortunately my cold had really taken hold and I couldn’t taste much of anything. Had good chats with both girls on the telephone. Fern sent me some super organic lotion which I am sure will magically transform my face back into the bloom of youth. Together, the girls and Fred gave me an azalea to plant by the drive way. I wonder if the one they gave me at the lake last Mother’s Day is blooming?