What was it like to be outside before I began birding? I often forget, but one measure is how much the simple pleasures of car camping have changed.
Last weekend my family met friends at Lake Dennison Recreation Area in Winchendon. Lovely lake, nice campsites, pretty quiet. That is, until a thunderous Ovenbird woke me at 5am. I wonder how many times I've heard Ovenbirds while camping but not really "heard" them? Here are some of my notes:
Setting up camp: hmm, two pine warblers, red-eyed across the street. Ah, ovenbird very nearby.
Fetching fire wood: red-eyed while driving out, another across the road from where we always buy wood.
Dinner: three pine warblers, actually. Fly-by hairy, distant redbelly.
Next morning, early: teacher-Teacher-TEACHER! Cardinals, a downy rattle, chickadee.
Later, making coffee: the red-eyed is trying to get me to think its a yellow-throated; might have to investigate. White breasted (with all the pines, there might be red breasted about).
Late morning, we hiked up Mt. Watatic. Lovely hike, pretty quiet, until midway: Black Throated Green. Higher: Wood ... no, listen to the ending and cadence ... Hermit!
And then, what you're waiting for, something you don't know. My notes read "tee-tee-[long warble]-trill, a bit buzzy-[shorter warble]-trill-warble. Hmm ... file that away in memory to research later (yes, it was a Purple Finch; mature mixed pine and hardwoods at about 1200ft)
Then, something else I didn't exactly recognize, although it was certainly a warbler: rising zee-zee-tee-tee-zee. That didn't take too much work—it's the alternate song of the BT Green, and there were at least three singing this version (one seen).
Then, before the trees opened onto the summit, another Hermit, close by.
On the summit, kids madly scramble for blueberries, and not a raptor in sight.
Yes, birding changes things.
And as we were packing up, a tiny, nasal toy horn tooted just twice in farewell.