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Crabtree Morning

February 22, 2010
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When you do something like the Young Naturalist’s Club, you can’t just take the kids out in to the field willy-nilly.  You have to have lots of first aid and insurance paperwork and businessy stuff that has to go with you wherever you go.  When I took the YNC out to Lake Mattamuskeet last month, this important stuff was bestowed upon me as the trip leader with the implication that would get it back to the right people before it would be needed again.  Well, lots happened since then and I forgot and the crucial forms sat in the trunk of my car.  So when Becky, my fellow YNC leader sent out a blanket email asking where the heck those forms got to because they needed them for another YNC field trip this weekend, I knew I was busted.

Fortunately for people of a birding persuasion, pickups and drop-offs have a way of turning into opportunities to look at birds.  So Becky and I met half-way between our respective homes, at Lake Crabtree County Park in western Wake County, to look for waterfowl and Eagles and I had the chance to fill in some gaps on my Wake County list.  Oh yeah, and I could get her what she needed to avoid lawsuits from angry parents.  Win-win, really.

Lake Crabtree is a reservoir initially created to manage flooding in the area.  It also was the site of a fertilizer factory in the not too distant past, so while there are lots of spots for fishermen to do their thing they’re rightly discouraged from taking home their cage.  That doesn’t appear to stop the fish-eating birds that frequent the lake on a winter day, though it does make the birder worry a tad about their welfare.  But every year the lake is packed with rafts of Ruddy Ducks and the odd additional species.

This weekend the additional species consisted of a handful of Lesser Scaup and few Bufflehead, but the forests were full of passerines and I managed to fill in some gaps on the Wake County list I mentioned earlier.  Both Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers were new birds for Wake, and the Pileateds in particular put on a show.

But catching up with Becky was the point, as I’d worked with her pretty closely when I was volunteering more regularly at the museum, something I miss a great deal not only for personal reasons, but because this blog suffers somewhat from my absence there.  Becky is also the head of Wake Audubon and while I regaled her with tales of my recent trip to Guatemala I hoped a bit that maybe her interest was piqued enough to consider an Audubon sponsored trip to that fine country.  Time will tell….

But it occurs to me how much of birding is used as a pretext for chatting with a friend.  I’ve certainly found myself in that situation on countless occasions.  I would suggest that it’s perhaps easier for us, in that we generally have time cut out of our schedule for watching birds on a regular basis, that it’s generally a weekend morning, and to fit someone in is nothing especially if they like being outside and looking for stuff too.  The general public may have to make specific plans, or miss connections.  Little things that make it harder.  We, as birders, are certainly fortunate to have what amounts to an open calender just about every week.  It’s something to think about.

As if to send us home, one of the Bald Eagles that regularly winters here flew over, putting up a huge Ring-billed Gull flock on the opposite side of the lake.  The Eagle didn’t appear to be interested in gulls however and circled off into the west.

We ended with 41 species, not bad for a winter morning if I say so myself.  Friends and birds are a winning combination.

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One Comment
  1. February 22, 2010 9:12 am

    You are so right. I can be horribly chatty when birding with a friend.
    This is why I generally prefer to go birding alone when I mean business.

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