Thursday, May 24, 2018

Secret Weapon

Montgomery County is heavily birded for such an ordinary, rural sort of place. Perhaps because of the river or the ease of access from the Thruway, the big guns visit often and bird hard. Then there are the local people, who simply know a lot more than I do.

It is a real challenge to keep up.

However, I have a secret weapon.

I am married to a guy who can spot an American Bittern, at sunset, from a car going 40 miles an hour, in a half-acre swamp clogged with cattails, having never seen one before, and just knowing from my description what one looked like in general.

Yeah, we were belting down a certain road we haunt, headed for our new favorite swamp stop, when he slammed on the brakes.

"What did you see, what did you see?" I exclaimed all excited.

"I think it was a White-headed Egret, you know, those birds you asked me to look for....."

As the car stopped, the bubbly Ke-honk Ke-honk of just such a bird, better known to me as a bittern, rang out from right beside the road.

I clambered down off the edge of the road onto the border of the swamp for photos. So well camouflaged was the bird that I could see it but the camera couldn't.

However, eventually I got a few acceptable photos.

A hen Wood Duck in a tree, something I had never seen before

The guy is amazing. Never saw the bird before, acted from a description..."the color of cattails, points the head straight up in the air...kinda stripey-like...." and he not only saw it, but spotted it while driving me off to hunt birds. When he was young and played ball, he says he could see which way the stitching on the baseball was turning when standing at bat, thus knowing just what pitch he was facing.

I think I'll keep him. He's worth at least a spotting scope any day. 

Chestnut-sided Warbler


Terry and Linda said...

Good for you! Ralph is an outstanding birder!!!

threecollie said...

Linda, he is a wonderful help!