Birding with Cele
(This first appeared in the August 1994 issue of the original B.A.R.B. without the photographs.)
Out of all the people in this world that I could have ended up living with, I never in my wildest dreams figured I would end up rooming with a birder, of all things. During the summer months, she gets home from work between 5:30 and 6:00 P.M., fixes dinner for me, and then gets that faraway look in her eyes. I know it won't be long before she says, "Hey! I've got an idea. Let's go to Tyler Park for a walk!"
Well, never one to pass up the opportunity for some exercise, I'm willing to head outside for some quality time with my friend. While I'm thinking about how close I can get to the wildlife in the park (deer, woodchucks, squirrels, anything furry or unusual or slimy), as soon as we get to the parking area, she's got those darned binoculars around her neck before we even park the car! I can tell already how boring this will be.
We walk a short distance on the multipurpose trail, and come to our first play area. At last - the creek! NOW I can have some fun! I head toward the shallow pools to cool off, but my joy is short-lived. Cele edges me out of the water, toward a trail that she hopes is loaded with the rare or exceptional feathered creature. So, I allow myself to be dragged off, and up the hill we go.
We round the corner, off the paved trail, toward our first stop. This is always a good area. I've seen many Yellow Warblers, cardinals, catbirds, Carolina Wrens, chickadees, robins, Tufted Titmice, Black-and-white Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Song and Field Sparrows, male and female American Redstarts, and Scarlet Tanagers at this one spot throughout the summer.
Since I have a minimal interest in this hobby, I am instantly bored. Cele is enthusiastic about every little flitting object (real or imagined) that she sees and tries valiantly to involve me, but I have better things to do with my time. While she spends her time looking up all the time and getting a stiff neck, I prefer to keep my eyes downward. You never know when something good will rustle its way through the cornfield and head right toward us, especially since we're standing so still for what seems to be hours on end. Why, I remember the evening that a woodchuck came zooming out of the underbrush not ten feet from where we were! What excitement that caused! I wanted to make friends with the furry little guy, but Cele managed to hold me back. She's always warning me about his dangerous teeth and possible rabies. She really tries to instill some sense into my little brain. All I'm thinking is – hey, look – it could be a playmate for me!
Then there are the deer. We've seen nearly a hundred in just this past month alone, but she always manages to keep me a safe distance from them. I guess she just doesn't want me to have any fun. After this, we travel through the horse trail down to our next stop. She tells me to be on the lookout for our friend the Indigo Bunting, who comes right down to a branch near us, chirping away the entire time and following us through the tree line.
I think he likes us! He even brought his wife along once!
We keep our ears open for the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers that like this stretch, and one time we had a Rufous-sided Towhee, Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Indigo Bunting all on one tree – each one a stair-step above the other. That was pretty neat. Here we also get a chance to see Killdeer; Tree, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows; and Chimney Swifts flying across the soybean fields. American Goldfinches flit about in the tree lines and Brown Thrashers, flickers, and Wood Thrushes beckon to us from the woods. If Cele is in the mood for a longer walk than usual, we head out toward yet another area of the park. We are almost guaranteed seeing many bluebird families, House Finches, and mockingbirds. Coming up on the widest area of the Neshaminy Creek, we see Canada Geese and Mallards. If it's dusk by this time, the Common Nighthawks start their wonderful evening dance. After this last stop, it's time for the long trek back to the car.
I must tell you that I'll be sorry when summer comes to a close and our trips to the park will end for another year. I've had a great time the past two years, and even though birding is in my blood, it's a different type of birding - you see, I'm a three year old Golden Retriever. My name is Rusty because of my beautiful red coat, which is almost the color of my friend's hair! Many people in the park remark on the bandannas that I sport all the time - always in a different color, to match Cele's tee-shirts. She likes to tell them that it's the mother-daughter look.
I have learned patience during our sojourns because she makes me sit quietly at her side, but while Cele's otherwise engaged, don't think for one minute that I'm not trying to eat grass, or chunks of wood, or even dirt! Heck, if she won't get me a bird to put in these soft jaws, I have to amuse myself somehow. And just think – she could have taken up a really boring hobby like stamp or coin collecting, or antique shopping, which wouldn't or couldn't involve me, so I guess this birding stuff isn't so bad after all.
B.A.R.B. at SongStar
Copyright © 1994 & 1999 by Cele Deemer and Richard L. Becker