We finally saw the Red-Headed Woodpecker at Robert H. Long Nature Park today!
A morning visit to Robert Long was rewarded not only with most of the birds we had previously seen, but also the Red-Head! Not too many new ones today except the Red-Head, but we got updates and verifications to the previous list. (Geez! After shooting the Red-Head, I needed no more!)
Again on this trip we were delighted to meet a few birders.
(BTW, I really appreciated the comments on my previous posting where one of the "lunch birders" I had mentioned in my blog identified himself and offered IDs - he had "been there - done that" at the same time(!) and knew exactly of what I spoke, and to Laurent who so tactfully and kindly suggested my "juvenile cormorant" was a Pied-Billed Grebe!)
This blogging thing is just "so cool" and informative so far! It's really another great medium! (A few years ago, who would have ever imagined!!! Like, imagined not only "the web", but a place to share and get feedback on your personal experiences.)
We first met Dick Sleeman (the guy with the big tripoded camo-Canon - if you ever see him you will know of what I speak) and his protege Matthew. Dick had been reading reports on the birder's list about this park and chose to try it out today for the first time. We really enjoyed some wonderful photographic tips and stories! I had met Dick previously at his great bird photography lecture at WBU in Rochester Hills. It was great to see him "in action" and catch a few more tips.
Then we met a birder walking back from one of the observation decks, and asked him what he had seen. He mentioned the Red-Head. Then (most birders are so cool!), he proceeded to look from our present location back towards where he had sighted the bird, and after awhile, saw the bird and exactly described the location (quite remarkable in itself!) to us. Judy always says "it's in the tree - you know, the tree over there". He knew when I saw it by the sound of my camera shutter firing several times. Thank you, thank you!!!
Dick told me later the birder was Mike Mencotti of Macomb Audubon and SE Michigan birding fame. (Interestingly, I had told Judy when I first saw him "he is an experienced birder" - it was the shoulder harness for the binocs that gave him away). [Hey, where do I get a shoulder harness? I would like to take the stress off my cervical vertebrae!]
"Just another couple of guys" at the Robert H. Long Park we met along the way today.
Oh, I do believe this was "just" another chance meeting! "Just" friends we meet along our birding ways. No presumptions, no reservations about sharing. "Just" helping fellow birders.
I am emphasizing this ("just" - obviously it means much more to me!) because it reminds me so much of the "old days" (think 2 or 3 decades?) when anyone outdoors could be trusted and would share anything they had. Those were my "old days" on the west coast when you could set up your base camp and leave everything in your tent and go exploring for few days and come back to still find everything there. There was always a sharing and respect in nature in "those days". I have not seen or felt this for years!
With the birders we have met in our brief time birding this year, I am finding the same comaraderie and sharing I have missed for many years. The "lesson" here is to for you birders to "just" keep doing what you do! It is something you are "giving forward" (a current term) without regard for immediate benefits, but with a lasting impression for those you encounter!
Thank you Dick, Matthew, and Mike for helping "make our day"!!!
Unfortunately, on a sadder note, we found that a few slats had been kicked out of two observation decks (why???) since a couple of days ago.
And a man on the bridge was teaching his dog to "fetch" in the ponds (we had wondered about the weird whistle...a bird?...). I suggested this was a nature park and was posted with the fact that dogs should be leashed, and he replied "He is in the water". Yeah, right! I further mentioned aquatic birds. I thought it made a difference (... or maybe because Judy and I took photos...), but shortly thereafter we saw him walking the leashed dog (a lovely dog!- golden lab?) (I really thought we had made a difference...) towards the exit, and then unleashing the dog for one more fetch near the entrance. Oh well, we tried... Maybe he will think about it before returning for a repeat.
Yes, a different world now than the "old days" I remember, but I choose to focus on (and remember in the future) the gifts we were given today. We saw some great birds, and we also had some fantastic unexpected sharing encounters with birders. These are the memories I will replay as I fall asleep tonight. These are like my memories of "the old days"! These are my living memories!
I thank all the birders and nature lovers who give me inspiration and share with us on our learning "adventure"!!!