My purpose, this past Monday, in going out to my favorite park was to see if the red-winged blackbird was back here in southeastern Michigan. I had one visiting my backyard feeder, but I hadn’t heard him or any others singing, my true harbinger of spring.
I knew if they were anywhere, they’d be at Kensington which has large marshy areas and more importantly, people with food for the birds.
When I arrived I drove past the heron rookery in case the eagle happened to be there, and since he (or she?) was not, I didn’t bother to walk over there after I parked. Instead I considered which trail might be most effective for finding the blackbirds.
And then I remembered that I have been seeing beautiful images of the illusive (to me anyway) red headed woodpecker taken at this park. And I knew, from those pictures, what area of the trail system he had usually been seen.
So I decided to go check that out before more people showed up. I had only seen one other car in the lot, and I didn’t want a lot of people clomping around scaring off my birds! And speaking of clomping, I was wearing my Yax grippers, and let me tell you, wearing those on ice makes it impossible to sneak up on anything!
I arrived at the location I thought I’d find the red headed and there wasn’t a bird to be seen. Nothing. Not a sparrow or a mourning dove. Not a starling or a cardinal. No hawk, no crow. No bird sounds. I stood there a long time. Then I sighed and walked off down the trail, head down, dragging my heavy camera in defeat.
And then I heard the little squeak of a nuthatch. He was poking his head up over a slightly hollow stump. Someone had left some millet in the stump and he was poking around eating what he could find
He was adorable. And then there was a second set of squeaking, and I saw a second nuthatch on a nearby tree. Beautiful.
I walked over to their stump and put a few peanuts in there, as sort of a reward for posing so nice for me, and then I backed up and waited. Soon enough they were both running around on their stump, and my camera was following them.
And then I heard a bigger squawk. OMG, look what came in for a peanut!
Well, look at both of them, the red headed and a male downy woodpecker, tucked in lower on the right side of the stump. I could hardly breath as I was shooting.
And even when the red headed flew up into the tree he didn’t go far.
He kept posing for me, up and over branches, in and out of the sun. My arms ached from holding the big heavy lens up toward the sky.
But I couldn’t stop smiling.
I clicked away until I finally gave up. He wasn’t moving, and I had no idea if I had anything worthwhile.
Still smiling, I walked away. After all, I had to go find my blackbirds!