Yesterday morning I was up around the grounds of the Humber Arb, doing a little spot check on our bird house, as I am very excited about the Tree Swallow nest within (Angie is very excited too). I seem to have a certain route I normally take through the area, spot checking for Raccoons in a couple trees, Deer in others and following the trail through the middle of the meadow.
It was a good visit so far, Yellow Warblers was the species of the day, little yellow birds seemingly everywhere, calling and buzzing around. Song Sparrows scattered adding to the musical mix. And the sunny morning with a cool breeze made for a comfortable walk. The blazing days of summer, that meadow can be brutal as there's no place to hide from the sun.
So, nearing the nest box area, I tuned in to a certain bird call and I shunned it off in disbelief. It sounded like an Eastern Bluebird. I have been told that Bluebirds used to nest in the meadow many years ago. And once in my near ten years of strolling these grounds, I chanced upon a small flock (I think that was 2 Octobers ago and there was either 3 or 6 Bluebirds passing through that day). So while not impossible for them to be around with these bits, I still don't believe it just because of the few hundred visits over the years, I've only ever seen the species once.
The call I heard didn't last long, which helped my mind make the decision that it was my imagination. I just made some other call into one.
I'm walking along, slowly and softly like I do, hoping to not spook birds/creatures and see them before they see me. Even with such a tactic, in most cases, they usually win. I see our bird house just off in the distance, and then suddenly I see a flash of blue come up from the path ahead of me. It was from the corner of my eye, but I know that blue very well and no way I could tell myself that was a Blue Jay. I stop in my tracks and a certain phrase I've used this Spring with awesome bird sightings ran through my head because there was no one to say it to. A couple expletives which I will tell you in another upcoming blog. Obviously it's not meant in a harsh way, it's just some emphasis on the great moment and bird.
As quickly as I caught that flash of blue, I lost it in a tree nearby. I go into "super stalk" mode, scanning the tree, tuning out other bird calls and a plane flying overhead. The mere seconds seemed like minutes until I spotted the Bluebird again. He was low in the tree but with the heavy cover of foliage above him, he could easily be mistaken for something else black in color. I watched and admired him for a moment before I put the camera on him and snapped a couple shots. I knew I wasn't getting anything museum quality but definitely wanted something for the record and to share with others.
Shit shot, crap shot, adjust the settings, I'm thrilled right now but I still curse and mumble a bit under my breath, hope the bird doesn't jet off in the meantime. I am a good 40 or 50 ft from the bird, and I wasn't going to move. Auto focus wasn't picking him up, so now I'm holding the 500mm lens up at him and trying to adjust the manual focus as well. Finally after 8 or so shots, I got one. And then, just like that, he was gone. The territorial male Red-winged Blackbird seemed to be part of that reason.
I spent the next 20 minutes looking and listening for the Bluebird again. I did a quick sweep of the meadow, looking for signs at the number of nest boxes for him, or maybe his mate, but came up empty. I did think I saw a female at one point through this but can't confirm.
Oh well. The moment I had was amazing. It put a spark in my step through the afternoon, and a smile on my face. Sure not many will get me saying "I saw a Bluebird today!" Perhaps if I explained where I saw it, and how few I have seen there in ten years? Angie was thrilled for me. My pal "Grizzly" at the Arboretum was too.
With the remainder of the day I found myself occasionally back near that tree with the Bluebird, and less agitated by some daily things that usually piss me off (idiot drivers, crap at work, etc). Everyone talks about how much better life would be if they won a million dollars, which is true, but in the meantime, acknowledging and embracing the little things that happen in a day, can make a huge difference. Thursday was a Bluebird for me. What will today bring?
Maybe a random sighting of an Eastern Bluebird isn't your thing? Whatever it may be, bird related or not, I hope you find it.
Thank you Mr. Bluebird!