Chronicles

Birds, birds everywhere, and not a pair of binoculars to be found!
by: Johanne McInnis 

        It all started over the summer months when I got a promotion at work. The new job involved some travelling, mostly to more remote areas of our province , such as Fosterville, Four Falls and Gillespie, tiny little places situated in the Woodstock-Grand Falls area. Now, although I was raised in a sleepy little city called Campbellton I have been living in the fast lanes of the big city of Saint John for 13 years and have grown to appreciate the fringe benefits of living in a metropolitan area. Back to my story......

        On my first day of travel I was destined for Bloomfield. In my trunk are my suitcase, my briefcase and my camera. Next to me in the car are my trusty highway map and my cell phone. As I pull out onto the highway and speed toward my destination the scenery is all the same: Cars speeding by me at 130km/h, pavement, guard rails and road signs. But as I begin to leave the areas of civilization and head into the woods so to speak of course things start to change dramatically. Speeding cars are replaced by tractors pulling hay bales, pavement is now chip sealed roads, guard rails have disappeared altogether and road signs are few and far between. The air is cleaner, the trees and plants are abundant and to my amazement there are birds everywhere. Not a word of exaggeration when I say flocks of blue jays sitting overhead in the birch trees watching me drive by in my little car. Sparrows, robins, warblers everywhere. I slowed down to catch a glimpse, straining my eyes to try and identify what I was looking at, almost driving off the road a few times. Binoculars? Field guides? Forgot them home, never thought of putting anything like that in the car. That's what happens when you are still a novice?!

        A few weeks later I'm back in the area on my way to Centreville. I'm travelling with the window down, the air is sweet and because I'm only doing 30 km/h I can hear the birds. They are everywhere. Suddenly I look up and sitting on a telephone wire is a bird which looks unlike anything I've ever seen before. I slow down and park the car to admire it for a few seconds. Mentally I remind myself to give me a kick for forgetting to pack the binoculars again so I grab a piece of paper and jot down a few distinctive traits about it. Once he was bored with me, he flew away to the other side of the road and I continued on with my journey wondering if I would be able to identify him from memory once I got home. The next week I knew I would be headed up that way so I made sure to put my binoculars and one of my bird books in the trunk so that I would be prepared this time. Up to Four Falls I go, content that ifl saw something this time I'd at least have some equipment with me to help me better identify what I'm looking at. But to my dismay, the trip is uneventful and I see nothing! It's now the beginning of September and I'm back on the road, going to Forest City this time for another site visit. Birds everywhere again. The same little bird is sitting on the wire so I stop my car in excitement and open the trunk to find: Nothing?! I scrambled to the back seat and looked everywhere, no book, no binoculars? Confused I get back into the driver's seat and look up to find an empty wire! When I got back home I tell my husband about my misfortune as I watch his face change to a sheepish grin. "Sorry honey, I took your birding stuff out of the trunk last weekend. I thought you forgot them in the car so I brought them back in the house". I laughed and shook my head because I know he meant well.

        Last week of September and I'm back on the road, going to Andover. The leaves are changing colors, the landscape is gorgeous and the morning air is crisp. Sure enough, sitting on a telephone wire is that little bird I had seen several times earlier in the summer. Darn, no binoculars again?! I stop the car on the other side of the road and try to take a look at him. I know it's a hawk but what kind? I look down to see my cell phone on the seat next to me. I pick it up and dial a number frantically. "Hi mom, did I wake you? Oh sorry, listen I'm in Andover. Andover. It's near Wood- stock and... what? Oh, I'm up here on business. Lis- ten, I'm sitting on the side of the road looking at a bird. Yes a bird! It looks like a hawk but it's really small... What? Binoculars? Well, I forgot them. Book? For- got that too. Anyway, he's bigger than a robin and his back looks gray and his beak is Mom, what are you laughing at me for?" My mother in her half asleep wisdom reminded me that the birding world had me in its talons and that eventually I would pack my trunk with a permanent pair of binoculars and that the back window would be littered with bird books galore. I smiled and thought to myself well that's not really that bad, hehehe!!! I made it home that evening and looked through my books .eventually identifying the little Kestrel I had spent the better part of the summer chasing in the woods and fields of the Woodstock area. Birds, birds everywhere and no binoculars to be found? Not next summer that's for sure! ! !

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