Dear readers, how I’ve missed you. I can only hope that you’ve missed me as much and haven’t totally given up on finding a new post here in this century!
It was very rough winter for me as far as having more than my fair share of the creeping crud (repeatedly). We’ve heard it over and over again: Stress is a killer. Day to day life often becomes quite hectic. As women (and men) filling multiple roles, we roll with the punches the best we can. But sometimes the stress of life becomes like an old rubber band that you absentmindedly reach into the drawer and grab to stretch around a stack of old bank statements. But before you know it, the rubber band snaps, popping you in the hand, and there’s nothing left to do but wince at the pain.
Suffice it to say the old rubber band snapped me, and I’ve recovered enough to pull a new one out of the drawer, being careful not to stretch it beyond its capacity. I’m sincerely very grateful to be able to do so.
So, here we are. Spring has sprung, and Mother Nature continues her cycles. April is the month of the “fall out” of neotropical song birds migrating from Central America north across the Gulf of Mexico until they reach land. At first sight of land, the birds literally fall out of the sky, exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, which makes for excellent bird watching in coastal Louisiana this time of year.
I spent Saturday on Grand Isle bird watching all over the island with members of the Terrebonne Bird Club. This is not my first time to stalk these beautiful birds on the island, but it is my first time to do so with the club. I met lots of avid birders with way more ability to spot and identify the birds than I possess, which was a major plus.
For me, the highlight of the trip was making our way through the chenier to the property of Robert Santini, now deceased. Mr. Bobby, as we called him, created a haven for the hungry migrants on his property way back in 1979. He planted native red mulberry trees (and a white mulberry) on his property and built feeding tables, which he placed in an open lot and covered with bird seed.
It was in Mr. Bobby’s yard back in 2004 that I saw my first Painted Bunting, and I shall never forget it. I confessed to him that spring day that I was new to bird watching, as he offered me a chair near a huge red mulberry tree. “Sit right here and keep watching that tree. The birds can’t resist those berries. If you keep your eyes on that tree, I promise you will see the most beautiful bird in the world.” So, I did AND I did. That bird, of course, was the Painted Bunting, and from that point on, I was hooked.
It’s only natural that I returned this year to Mr. Bobby’s yard in hopes of seeing the colorful rare bird again. A small group of us picked our way through the brush as quietly as we could and walked along the fenceline bordering his yard. As I looked past the cyclone fence into the backyard, there stood the old red mulberry tree, laden with berries, where I spied my first Painted Bunting 12 years ago. Much to my dismay, there were no birds in the tree. Maybe it was because there were too many bird watchers in the yard?
I followed the rest of my little group to the back of the property where a white mulberry tree stood near the house. I’d never heard of a white mulberry, but one of the ladies said the berries are much sweeter than the red ones.
As I approached the tree for a closer look, my excitement grew as dozens of birds of all colors decorated the branches, flitting here and there in their own excitement. I staked my spot under the tree and must have stood there half an hour with my head titled back, craning my neck to get the best shots to share with you. I really did have a bird’s eye view!
For those of you who are bird watchers, I know you’re wondering about the bird count and if I saw any lifers. Well, the bird count for group was about 60 (not counting any of the shore bird migrants). I saw my first Vermillion Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, and from a very far distance, a rare Groove-billed Ani. Now THAT was the bird that had the veteran birders super excited!
As I’ve said at least a dozen times on this site: A picture paints a thousand words, and while I probably took a thousand photos, don’t worry, I won’t make you suffer through all of them! Now, I will let the photos do the talking.
I had a wonderful time making new friends and seeing a few birds for the first time. I also connected with a few ladies who might come down for an adventure; one in particular who wants to learn to fish, although she doesn’t like killing things and isn’t sure how she feels about killing a fish. It’s okay, Collette; we can practice catch and release!
It doesn’t matter that I never saw a Painted Bunting. What matters most is that I found a way to leave the rubber band in the desk drawer for a day.
Until next time, watch out for those old rubber bands!
Now for the giveaway: This month’s sponsor is Kim of Wetland Treasures. She makes all kinds of beautiful jewelry and is generously donating a BW wrap bracelet, graced with a cute dragonfly charm. Please leave a comment in the section below to be entered in a random drawing, probably on Sunday, April 17 and visit Kim’s Etsy shop.
Please hop over and read my latest article in Country Roads Magazine – “Southern Dewberries”
SUNDAY DRAWING: The winner of the BW Bracelet by Kim is ETTA!!! Etta, please email me your mailing address ASAP so Kim can get your bracelet in the mail! Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment! This blog is nothing without you all!