Beth and I sit inside the brick lined boiler room dining area which still has the remnants of its past hanging about on the walls and ceiling. It was the first time we met but we felt like old friends. It is an easy meeting. Her red hair catches my eye. I always wanted to be a redhead. Her bright eyes sparkle behind her new glasses. We order our meals and chat, but we are eager to finish so we can go out birding together.
After our meal we head out to find birds. A few clouds overhead threaten rain as we stop by the smooth blue lake to take a few photos and see if there were any birds on the water. Wilson Lake, also called Wilson pond, is just one of many with that name in Maine. My grandfather use to camp and fish at another Wilson pond up by Moosehead Lake far to the north. I was born on his birthday and it is because of him that I feel such a connection to this state. However, there are no birds on this lake today, so we drive over to a nearby cemetery I know of to see what we can see.
We park our car in a quiet corner where large eastern white pines ring the edge of the graveyard. We glance up to see the evidence of woodpeckers, but no birds. Then, we hear a ruckus in the trees and watch as a family of blue jays flies into the pines.
The young jays screech and squawk at the parents to feed them. The parents are frantic to oblige. We laugh and enjoy the show. Then, I see some movement across the street. The black and white barring of a hairy woodpecker hanging about flahses by and lands clinging to a tree trunk. Perhaps he is the one who made at least some of the holes we observed earlier. After spotting a red-winged blackbird in a wet meadow beyond the trees, a chickadee and a few mourning doves we head back to the car and decide to try someplace else.
Then, as we cross the street to the meadow we see a Savannah Sparrow catching insects in the meadow grass. A warm sun shines down on us filtered by the threatening clouds. The air is muggy but a light breeze ruffles our hair now and again. I did not remember to bring bug spray and neither did Beth. I know I will pay for this foray into the meadow, but I will not be deterred by mosquitoes. This is the only day and time that Beth and I have. We forge on.
Soon I hear this strange whistling buzz in the trees overhead. A quick look up reveals a flock of cedar waxwings silhouetted against the patchy blue sky. All my senses are on alert as we walk onward. Someone has mowed a path around the meadow, which is thick with tall grasses and wildflowers.
We continue on our way, but poor Beth endures me repeatedly remarking, "I can't believe I saw a cuckoo. I can't believe I saw a cuckoo" for the rest of our hike. As the trail leads from one meadow to another I'm struck by the beauty of these milkweed blossoms. Though I have grown up with milkweed I am more used to the dry seed pods and the fluffy down that floats on the wind. This is my first time really noticing the blossoms that create the seeds in the first place. The unopened buds appears like tiny purple fruits, but when they open the berries become pink petticoats on a green stem flanked by large shady green leaves. No wonder butterflies like them. What a pretty place to rest and feed.
As we walk along through the meadow I glance back at the view behind me. These mountains to the west are framed by the trees that ring the meadow and by the tall meadow grasses and weeds.
Then we find a few ripe raspberries growing along the edge of the meadow. Beth and I pick a few, surprised that the birds have left any at all. We hear the pounding of a woodpecker and find a little downy working on a nearby tree.
As meadow leads to meadow, we cross this plank bridge over a small brook, almost hidden in the dense grass.
We finally reach the marshy end of the meadow. Beyond Wilson Lake lies to the east. This looks like perfect moose habitat, but we see none. However, the mosquitoes are out in force and I slap away at my legs and arms trying to ignore their bites.
Back at the car Beth sits patiently on a rock while I photograph the farm field full of recently baled hay. The slanting light of the setting sun has thrown a cape of gold across the land.
I drive Beth back to where she parked her car and we hug each other good-bye knowing that we have each made a new friend. This is the joy of birding: new friends, new places, new discoveries. But as I get in my car to drive back to the hotel, I experience one of the pains as my welted legs start to itch with over 100 mosquito bites. I'll carry this memento home with me to Arizona where it will linger for many weeks. But it was worth every mosquito bite I got and I would do it all over again. Thank you Beth for meeting me and sharing this experience. To read Beth's account of this day click on Finding Birds in Wilton.
Sign embedded in a rock at the far end of the meadow near the marsh.
Visit Wrenaissance Reflections to see edition # 83 of I and the Bird. Click on the button above to view the main web site.
Photographer's note: All of today's phototgraphy is by Kathie with the Nikon D80 and the 70-300mm lens set in sports mode for the birds and landscape mode for the landscape shots.Birds seen:Location: Foothills Land Conservancy
Notes: This place was alive with birds and mosquitoes. So much to
see. I will definitely go back. Beth and I both took photos.
Number of species: 12
Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
American Crow 3
Black-capped Chickadee 2
American Robin 1
Cedar Waxwing 12
Common Yellowthroat 5
Savannah Sparrow 10
Song Sparrow 2
American Goldfinch 9