Birds Provide a Bridge

Thank You!

We’ve covered some ground here. Thank you so much for reading. And thank you to those who have told me personally (Marjorie, Rebecca, Larry, Steve, Mickie the Master Naturalist, the two Sarah’s, Bob S., CBG and others) and through your comments (Abby, Glenn, Phil, Marlene the nature writer, Katiegirl, Dii and others) how much you’re enjoying the blog. I realize this is a well-worn expression, but this is a labor of love. I love doing this. And hopefully, the labor is yielding results. Now, cue the trumpet fanfare. Ladies and gentlemen…this photo is for you (a newly fledged Purple Martin hawking insects over Paradise Creek Nature Park in Portsmouth)!

Juvenile Purple Martin hawking insects in flight
Juvenile Purple Martin

Before we move on to other things, let me share with you some thought-provoking words–the words of legally blind writer Martha Steele from her article “Musings of the Blind Birder: Connecting, Calming, Centering” in the June 2018 issue of Bird Observer, a bimonthly journal about birding.

Birding is and will continue to be a big part of my life. The sheer pleasure of and fascination with birds permeates so many aspects of my life from planning daily activities to traveling around the world in pursuit of our avian friends. Although I started birding late in life, it was an extension of my bond with the natural world that centers and grounds me. It is a physical and emotional connections to birds and ecosystem diversity that help define my worldview and nourish my soul. Ascending high peaks for magnificent vistas, finding serenity in quiet woods, listening to gentle rustling of autumn leaves, staring at neatly outlined animal tracks in the snow, or standing in utter solitude letting the beautiful song of a Hermit Thrush fill me with joy, observing nature and its inhabitants provides a constant source of curiosity and wonderment.

Yet More Reasons to Bird

So we continue the thread here of providing reasons to take up an interest in birds and that “singular and important hobby“: birdwatching. Birdwatching centers, grounds, and nourishes, according to Ms. Steele. Here are more thought-provoking words along those lines. “Birds provide a bridge into the mysteries of a world the animal in us fondly remembers.” I’m not sure where I found that, but boy what a power-packed line. “The animal in us fondly remembers.” Think about that for a moment.

That birds provide that bridge may help to explain why fully one-fifth of the U.S. populace are bird watchers. I shared that statistic recently with Brian, a Cox Communications lineman (cue Glenn Campbell’s masterpiece). He is interested in local Ospreys and Bald Eagles, but he really had no idea. He about fell over. He was staggered at that number.

Well, birds don’t just PROVIDE a bridge. Sometimes birds are ON a bridge. Here’s an immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron standing on one of the railings of the footbridge at Paradise Creek. I shot this on the same day I photographed the Purple Martin. That warm, overcast–yet very bright–morning, there were many very young ‘hatch-year’ birds around, including the two noted here. It’s always good to see young birds. They’re often a sign of successful breeding nearby.

immature Yellow-crowned-Night Heron
Immature Yellow-crowned-Night Heron

Our rather precariously perched heron appeared to be focused on a food source in the marsh. It didn’t look too sure of itself or its abilities. Some dark humor here…but my first thought when I saw the bird was “Don’t jump”!! I captured this right before it took off. I had to retouch the photo a bit as the railing, for some reason, looked more like a long puffy cloud in the original. The cloud hid the bird’s toes, which I was unable to recover. Perhaps I could get Marjorie to paint some in.

I can’t finish up without including another river shot, and a few more shots of people enjoying the river. I took the river photo from Portsmouth City Park on the Western Branch. I used a polarizing filter here for the first time, thus the a-little-too-blue color cast. Practice will make perfect, hopefully.

Elizabeth River from Portsmouth City Park
Elizabeth River from Portsmouth City Park

And here are more crabbers (I love those outfits), and a pair of fishermen (I love those outfits too–and those spectral highlights). I’m sorry. I just can’t bring myself to use the word “fisherpersons.” Not yet anyway. Maybe someday.

The fishermen and crabber photos were taken along the Southern Branch. I think I’ll start calling photos like these “indicator photos,” (indicators of the health and importance of the Elizabeth). They are also examples of street photography–a genre I love. You don’t need to be on 5th Avenue in New York or on High St. in Portsmouth to engage in street photography. You can take pictures like these anywhere and everywhere. Even along the banks of a river. And you don’t need anyone’s permission as long as you’re in a public place. But always ask permission if children are involved.

And This Just In

Dave, You’ve had your naysayers. But I’ve always believed in you. And I believe in you still. You’re going to do great things.



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