Visits to Union Bay, the wetlands the UW is restoring, are an immense comfort to me. Like many people, I'm finding the ongoing catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico painful whether I consciously think about it or not. For weeks it has been following me around, making me even sadder than it makes me angry. Finally I realized that the lack of a clear scale adds a deep sense of uneasiness to the sadness.
Now that spring is almost over, life at the fill (as they call it) is a lot calmer. The reeds and grasses have grown tall-- as high as my shoulders, if you can believe that. Many species of birds have flown on. But there are lots of goslings (though they've grown a lot bigger than they were before I went off to WisCon) and ducklings about, and of course blue herons and turtles Over the weekend I acquired a pair of binoculars (a gift!) and some bird books, and was thrilled to identify the mates (polygamy!) of a red-winged blackbird, hanging out together in a tree while the male was off somewhere on his own. (The females don't have black feathers, so this was a revelation to me. Also: although I had noticed that red-winged blackbirds produce several kinds of calls, I had no idea that they produced twenty in all-- the females six, the males eighteen.) I also identified a pair of ducks as gadwalls.
Yesterday the notice board announced that a green heron had been spotted, so we of course kept a sharp look out for it (according to my books, it's about half the size of a blue heron and much more colorful). Not that I don't continue to love watching blue herons! I rather like that when they aren't staring down into the water, fishing, they are either stalking stealthily about or just standing motionless and seemingly staring off into space, something you'd never catch a dabbling duck or a goose doing.
I can't help feeling that walking around with a pair of large binoculars makes me look as if I'm an authentic birder. (False pretenses!) A woman (also wearing binoculars) asked me if I'd seen any wood ducks. (I hadn't.) And to think just a couple of months ago I didn't know what a coot looked like!