Times, They are a Changin’

If you told me 10 or more years ago that I would become a birder (as in a bird watcher) I would have said you were nuts. Only maniacs want to go out into the forest or parks or bays to look at birds. Seriously now, look at birds? Insane.

But now I am ambling through some of the most beautiful parks and bays on Long Island with dozens of birders, and with my wife the Beautiful AP—and I am a truly happy man, a truly happy birder.

I never knew we had such beauty on Long Island. It’s as if I’ve moved to a whole new locale. In a way, I have. I am now one of those nutty birders out there with my binoculars and my special birding hat and when I see one of these beauties (even ugly birds are beautiful) I get a real charge.

I’ll admit in those long-gone years of my birding disdain I figured incorrectly that all birders were deranged. They must be wackos of the wackiest way to do what they did, so I thought. Having met them, most are smart, interesting and committed people – although one or two or a few are indeed out of their minds. Still, isn’t that true of most groups – a few maniacs interspersed with smart, interesting and committed people?

We go out birding on Sundays at 9 a.m. We’ve been to Francis J. Levy Park, Hempstead Lake State Park, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Jones Beach West End, Mill Pond Park, Massapequa Preserve, Point Lookout Town Park and Lido Preserve, and indeed more are on the upcoming schedule. The Beautiful AP and I are even contemplating going to Costa Rica on a birding expedition.

I’ve seen all sorts of birds on these walks; colorful songbirds, wading birds and a variety of those awesome predators of the skies—hawks! One was sitting atop of a tree munching (this is indelicate) on another bird. An amazing sight! This was at Jones Beach West End.

I do not know the names of all the birds I’ve seen. Yes, there are birders who are experts and they identify the birds and easily describe their behaviors, calls, plumage changes and migratory patterns. I listen and try to learn, but I am a slow learner in this field.

Sundays have become “date days” for the Beautiful AP and me. We go birding then go out for a romantic lunch. Yes, a decade or more ago, I would have called this a cheap date. But times have changed. Now with my wife at my side, I happily clad myself in garb laden with pockets and strap on a water bottle and binoculars over that, to tread through mud and bush to spy on winged creatures—and I am ever surprised by what I see.

Great Blue Heron by Rich Forthofer
Great Blue Heron by Rich Forthofer

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