Often I sense that my love of birds and birding isn’t passionate enough. I get up in the morning, listening for the first sounds of their calls, trying to pick out and identify each bird song in the cacophony of the dawn chorus, and generally trying to note those that would be the first of season birds to pass through and or choose to make my yard its summer home.
I take glee in the return of the Black-throated Green Warblers, the sneezy call of Blue-winged Warblers and mostly of the incessant mews of the Grey Catbird. Witnessing the return of these species reinforces for me that we’ve again come full circle and all is continuing well in the Universe.
What makes me wonder about my level of passion for this activity is when a rare or vagrant bird is found in the area. I never have a great yearning to go find it, gawk at it or tick it off on my list of birds seen.
Yesterday I tested my passion for birding by joining a group of birders, some of whom came as far away as Ontario, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey to see just such a bird. It was a Fieldfare, an European relative of our American Robin. A species that had last been seen in Massachusetts 27 years ago.
I stood in the backyard of some incredibly generous homeowners, whom for a week or more have allowed people on their property to try to see this bird from sun up to sun down.
I saw folks who I haven’t seen in a while and met new ones all intent on seeing this bird. Mostly people were quietly standing peering with scopes and bins past the arbored garden to a berried Barberry bush at the edge of the woods where just about noon the bird had last been seen. The berries were quickly diminishing as a result of the season and the robins voracious appetite. I thought…this is hardly enough food to sustain a flock for much longer.
After 4 hours of standing on a breezy, frozen snow covered patch of grass I thought…Wouldn’t it be something if the day I decided to come see this bird, is the day that it decides to go on to continue its journey?
At the end of the 5th hour, still no bird. Most frozen to the bone seekers went reluctantly away. Me, I had no regrets. I enjoyed the kinship and camaraderie of those on a mission to see something rare and unusual. I enjoyed my friends from New Jersey who came all the way up to see this bird and got me out to stand around with them.
I only hope the Fieldfare fares well.