Happy St. Patrick’s Day, the day when those of us with Irish ancestors (or Irish children or both) celebrate their heritage. This day always coincides with the part of the Texas spring when it’s so green that it almost hurts your eyes.
Each year I try to burn the spring green into my brain, to carry me through parched brown summers.
So, yesterday, when the late afternoon light was especially suited to enhancing the green of spring, I took many photos. Some were interesting. Others breathtaking. I hope you enjoy the Hermits’ Rest at its greenest.
The Hermits Creeklet with budding willows and dewberries.
Last night I went to the El Camino Real Master Naturalist meeting, as I do most every month. I wrote up a post for their blog with lots of details about what I learned, so here I want to share my deep enjoyment from listening to women who are passionate about birds and birding as they share their passions with others.
Three women from our group spoke about how they engage in bird watching, each with a different perspective and knowledge base. I sat there like a little kid, all enthralled at the details they shared. It was thought-provoking to look at how each of them engaged in their hobby. Here’s what I saw (just using first names here).
Ann has been birding for many years, and she does it for the same reasons I do: basically, she likes birds a lot. Her passion and enthusiasm for identifying new and unusual birds was very obvious, but she reminded me of my methods for birding. She said if she didn’t know what a bird was from quickly observing it, she’d often just move onto the next, in contrast to her birding friend who just HAD to identify every single bird she saw, in a scientific way. Of course, Ann knows pretty much all the birds you can see around here; she just doesn’t stress over what she doesn’t know.
Joyce also loves birds, and watches them in a very accurate and detailed way. She keeps good records of her feeder, counting them carefully, and only identifying the ones that come into her feeder watch zone. There is a great deal of discipline to her approach to observing birds, which goes along with her amazing attention to detail in other parts of her life. We need birders like Joyce, too, to provide accurate data for researchers. (Of course, she’s also having fun.)
Then, there’s Cindy, whose approach to birding is to figure out how she can practically help the most birds. She shared with us her recipe for making lots and lots of suet for little money, so that the woodpeckers and other birds that like to feed on trees and eat more than just seed can be satisfied. She’s not there just to watch or count or record she’s there to help the birds thrive.
(All the women also carefully feed and water their birds; I was just contrasting their main styles.)
Another birder style was described by Ann, who talked about a very intense young man who asked to come to her house, because he was on a mission to get three more birds on his Milam County list of 100, and she had some of them in her yard. As soon as he saw one, he went on to look for the next. No lollygagging, watching behavior, or anything. And he didn’t stick around to chat; nope, he had to go to Bell County to work on his count there. These are the kind of birders people often gently poke fun at, but hey, they aren’t hurting anyone, are they?
Like any other hobby, there are many ways to enjoy birding (don’t get me started on process versus product knitters). Do you like to watch birds? Do you feel like you need to know what they are? Do you just enjoy their antics? Do you use them to tell what season it is? Share!
By the way, I was almost late to the meeting, because I had to take this photo of beautiful evening primroses along County Road 140 across from the cemetery.
I got a request for an update on the hawks at my workplace. You know I just love requests. Since the people in our office spend a LOT of of our break time looking at them, there’s no problem with coming up with a report! The raptor couple are the talk of the water cooler, which pleases me a lot. We have a lot of budding birders being developed!
Here are some of the behaviors we’ve observed:
Eating small animals. They like to do that at the parking garage.
Working on the nest. Every so often, a special new stick comes over.
Dealing with windows. There’s a report that one of them went BOOM into a window earlier this week. Both birds seem okay, now.
Dealing with ledges. While I’ve seen one of them successfully land on the narrow ledges on our building, they also miss frequently, and flap around awkwardly to regroup.
Screeching. Lots of screeching.
Engaging in synchronixed flying. It’s just beautiful watching then swerve and curve then land delicately on the roof or nest.
Being friendly. They groom each other and snuggle up, both before and after what we call their “special time.” We expect some EGGS out of all this! (I do believe Mrs. Hawk is looking, um, plumper.)
Ever since I joined the neighborhood book club, I’ve been reading more books that other people might consider reading. (Usually, I read really dry nonfiction that mostly only I would care about.) But, today I will share the past couple of weeks’ worth of reading. It’s better than ranting about Facebook and the internet, but will get fewer hits, I wager.
Book Club Book
This month, we chose my favorite genre, the memoir, as our book. Becoming, by Michelle Obama, had everything in it I like in a memoir, including figuring out how she ended up where she is, stories about interesting mentors, and from what I can tell, honesty. I always like it when I find things in common with others, and there were a few times when good ole Miche said something like it was coming out of my own mouth. It’s worth reading, especially if you’re familiar with Chicago and can enjoy a trip down memory lane.
I have a Facebook friend (I’ll call her MR, since those are her initials) whose wisdom I admire very much. I’d like to share some of her thoughts and add my own. She recently posted:
As I scroll the feed and see endless perfection and happiness, I reflect on my childhood, youth, teens, to adulthood and reaffirm to myself how unrealistic and unhealthy social media can be if taken literally. This is molding our children[;] many false beliefs and visuals are creating a society stricken with major depression, high anxiety and extremely low self esteem.
Faccebook post, March 11, 2019
This friend has recently experienced the loss of a young adult child, and has shared her grief experience and thoughts about her son very openly and honestly. I really appreciate this, because I’ve learned a lot, and her perspective has helped me with my own young adult children and their issues (that’s right; my children have issues). She continues:
As I continue to walk through my life, experiencing the rolling hills, twists, turns and storms, I’m realizing and confirming it’s through my imperfections and dysfunction that helps define who I am.
MR, on Facebook
Any of you who know me personally will recognize that sentiment as something I’ve conveyed many times in one way or another. I firmly believe that if you never screw up, your path to wisdom and inner peace will be long and hard. We grow through our mistakes, learn to forgive and accept forgiveness through them, and gain a sense of community by sharing what we learn.