forty years of birding

5.23.21 ~ Avery Point ~ killdeer

Sunday we took a walk at Avery Point on a hot day, the temperature was way above average for this time of year, but we can park on campus without a permit on the weekends so we decided to give it a try. A nice sea breeze made it bearable.

curious killdeer

A killdeer surprised me by standing very still, as curious about me as I was about him/her. Because the 30th anniversary of my mother’s death is coming up on Thursday, Mom and her love of birdwatching have been much on my mind. At home I decided to pull out her well-worn 1947 edition of A Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson, including her life list. She first saw a killdeer on March 17, 1951. She was 19 years old.

one last comment before scooting off

It looks like she started birding in earnest that year. There are a few birds marked with a check, which she probably remembered seeing before she started to keep a record. Lots of Florida birds were spotted in the 1960s, when I was a child and we made many trips down there to visit relatives. The last new bird she noted was a red-breasted nuthatch on December 20, 1989, 17 months before she died at the age of 59.

ants visiting a beach rose
I adore beach roses
beach rosebud
I only saw this one herring gull this day

Mom recorded 5 kinds of gulls: great black-backed, herring, California, ring-billed, and laughing.

not sure what this pretty bush is
still more new life late in the spring
bee collecting pollen
another beach rosebud
song sparrow

Mom recorded her song sparrow on March 20, 1951. This one was singing such a pretty song, the moment filled my heart with joy.

sunlit copper beech leaves

Funny thing was, I was hoping to find a Canada goose family with goslings, but we didn’t see any. People have been posting pictures of them in the beach’s Facebook group. Oh well. Encountering the killdeer was a welcome blessing, an even better experience. Another lesson in flexibility and living in the present moment. And it was nice that the killdeer led me to take a peek back into one of my mother’s life’s passions.

Mom first saw a mourning dove on May 23, 1951. A little synchronicity there. This walk was taken on May 23, 2021, seventy years later. Ever since my mother died I’ve been comforted by the mourning doves who keep coming to my garden and my balcony, as they keep reminding me of her presence and love.

24 thoughts on “forty years of birding”

  1. I admire your ability to be a birder. Birds kind of scare me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy your pursuit. I am nothing if not supportive of everyone else keeping track of them. Color me flexible! Love the daisy and salvia photos. Have them both in our garden.

    1. You’re not the first person I’ve met who is nervous around birds. But I’m that way about dogs so I get it. I’m not half the birder my mother was! I don’t really go out looking for them the way enthusiasts do but I do get pretty excited when one comes to me. Thanks for identifying the salvia. 🙂

  2. Dear Barbara, thanks so very much for sharing this poignant celebration of your mother and her love for birds. Your photos and words beautifully reflect the love for nature that your mother passed on to you. How wonderful that you have her field guide and the notations.

    1. Thank you so much, Jet! When I was a child I was awfully bored on most of Mom’s birdwatching adventures but I guess in the end the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. 😉 I love looking at her handwriting and try to imagine where she was when she saw the various birds. I know she went to Nova Scotia a couple of times when she was in college and I remember the trips to Florida. I’m guessing she saw the California gull when she took a trip out west in the 1980s…

  3. I’m sorry you lost your mother so early, Barbara. That must have been hard on a young girl. But how serendipitous that you found her journal and were able to make so many connections to the present. We see a lot of mourning doves here, but I don’t recall a single killdeer. That must be more of a beach-loving bird, right?

    1. Thank you, Debbie. I was 34 when she died, and it was really rough. I wound up in therapy for a couple of years to learn how to cope with my grief. But the passage of time does help and the other day I realized it has been 30 years now! And the memories are sweeter now.

      Yes, killdeer are shorebirds, in the plover family. I usually see them in parking lots so to see this one on the sea wall was a treat, a much better backdrop!

    1. I think I remember you writing about the connection between your grandmother and cardinals in one of your posts. 💕

    1. I do feel lucky to have so many songbirds and waterbirds around here. Can you plant flowers in your garden that might attract some birds? Are birdfeeders popular in Norway?

  4. Bittersweet memories, Barbara. Sad that your mom died so young (my own did as well at 55). Nice that you have her birding book as a connection to her memory, a passion shared.
    Nice spring pix, too.

    1. So sorry you lost your mom at such a young age, too, Eliza. I have to take good care of her field guide, it’s falling apart at the seams and I’m not sure what I can do to preserve it. I take it out rarely to peruse her notes and remember her.

  5. Beautiful post and photos, Barbara. So sorry to know your mom was so young in passing. I absolutely love that you have her birding journal and can reconnect with her through it, even after all these years. ❤️

    1. Thank you, Donna! I’m not sure what made me think to pull her field guide out when I got home but I’m so happy I did. 💙

  6. [Hi Barbara – I apologize for my tardiness in commenting. I am many days behind in Reader thanks to a major computer malfunction at work. As I mentioned the other day to you, on May 20th, our Outlook crashed and we lost our ability to e-mail for about five days, plus lost all our data; we went from Outlook and Word 2010 to Office 365. I’ve spent a great deal of my own time troubleshooting with the I.T. guy and spent most of the long holiday weekend doing yardwork. So now I will try my best to get through a massive amount of blog posts.] I love the pictures of the Killdeer. I have only seen them from afar walking so fast on those tall legs, but never gotten any photos of them. I have read how they dance around and feign a broken wing when they are guarding a nest (often on the ground) or wee ones. You got some beautiful wildflowers here too. I have not been to Humbug Marsh to see the Beach Rose and their wildflowers. Last week, there was a photo on Facebook showing how flooded the Marsh and forest was. I told myself I could have Saturday morning to look for ducklings and didn’t figure I’d see them there but considering it is such a new venue, I was surprised how flooded it was.

    1. Oh Linda, please never feel obliged to comment or to comment quickly! That was a very long haul for you getting through that email and spam disaster. I hope things are getting back to normal now. I was amazed that the killdeer was standing still that day and staring at me! Like you, I usually see them darting around so quickly it makes getting a picture impossible, even with a sports setting. I hope you get to Humbug Marsh soon, when it isn’t under water!

      1. Thanks Barbara – it has been since May 20th and the computer guy has set my e-mail up all wrong … I used to be able to watch my boss’ e-mail just by toggling back and forth and could see his inbox/sent mail/deleted mail. I’ve worked from home for a decade and that was seamless. When I asked him to fix it like it was he said “how was it?” He set it up ten years ago – our entire computer system crashed in October 2010 and it took him six months to put it together again at which time I did everything from scratch … bills, documents etc. as I couldn’t access the system. We have lots of forms and long documents we can re-use for other clients – nope, had to type it all over. He would scan in hard copies of prior client’s documents and send them to my home e-mail and I had to retype them. The computer guy set him up with a small scanner and a printer until everything was normal again. I wanted to apologize as I’ve always been a regular commenter, though I sometimes am a day or two behind. I think I am going to Lake Erie Metropark and Humbug Marsh tomorrow. We had a little rain this week, but I can steer clear of the Old Forest where the flooding was (hopefully) … I wanted to see their wildflowers they wrote about in the early Spring. The Killdeer just kill me when they walk so fast on those legs unlike so many birds that just hop. That Killdeer wanted you to take its picture … like a seagull poses. 🙂 I am not looking forward to this heat wave – it is 84 degrees at 8:00 p.m. and the worst is the weekend and then the heat AND the muggies. Ugh. I loved last weekend, cool and needed a sweater.

        1. It’s troubling how technology is supposed to make our lives easier but when things go wrong it’s so devastating! Thinking of all the ransomware cyberattacks on the news lately, too… Hope your outdoor adventures brought some solace. It’s too early for a heat wave!!! I think the AC may be going on today…. I enjoyed the cool Memorial Day weekend, too.

          1. Yes, and the computer debacle seems to be the gift that keeps on giving! I’ve had more issues and the way he has set up this e-mail is problematic. I don’t print out any work at all but do all my work through PDFs scanned in to my e-mail. I leave work every day frazzled and don’t like that. I did enjoy my long, albeit it hot, walk. They predicted this hot Spring and Summer back on the first day of Spring and they were right on the money.

          2. Oh no! I keep hoping the computer debacle is behind you! Hot and cold, it feels like Mother Earth is keeping us on our toes, but who can blame her after all we’ve done to her…

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