Mulling things on my morning ramble
with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.
So I walked into the retirement home--a couple ladies were having their hair done in the front room--and asked if they minded if I went around back to take some photos of birds on the lake.
The advantage to being old is that you have seen everything or just about everything. They didn't even blink. One of them even offered me a short cut and said, ``Walk straight on through and go out the back door.''
Much nicer than having to circle the whole building and go the lake.
Afterward, I had to laugh.
As it turned out, the swans I was trying to photograph were mute swans and not trumpeters. Much to my disappointment. Mute swans are introduced species, trumpeter swans are a recovering native species.
This morning the meathead and I set off later than usual, just as light was starting to filter in and the snow began to thicken from a frozen mist to something more whitening.
As we stretched out to the extended ramble, I heard this weird sound coming from the fields beyond the north side of the north old clay pit.
And here came four white birds, low enough I could hear the wing beats as they came over us. Their markings looked dark enough in the growing light that I thought they might be trumpeters.
They headed toward the lake to the west, where Canada geese have been swimming the water open.
So when we got back home, in a slightly thickening snowfall, I dumped the dog in the house and jumped in the car.
And the quest to photograph the swans began.
I was quite excited, except I had a hard time getting close enough to take a good photograph. I tried pulling off the road to the west, then parking by some houses to the south.
But it was no good.
Finally, I figured the retirement home was worth a shot. And the three ladies welcomed me--even with me in my black wool cap and old hood coats with a camo camera bag over my shoulder.
But as I got close enough to take better photos, I realized those were definitely orange bills, meaning they were mute swans and not trumpeters.
So it goes.
On my way out, one of the women, her head inside one of things that women sit under at the hair dressers, asked me, ``Are you a birdwatcher?''
Now, there's a question. One of my writing acquaintances calls me ``Bird Boy,'' so maybe I am.
Back home, as I looked through allaboutbirds.org, the wonderful site for basic bird info by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, to make sure of my swan ID, I noticed a Cooper's hawk had landed on my neighbor's porch rail.
It was eying the feeders that draw in dozens of birds to our porch.
I told the kids, then tried to grab a photo. It must have seen the commotion of us through the window.
It was gone.
Such were the adventures of Bird Boy today.