The List

Rarely do I bring binoculars with me in the morning. The contemplative, reach and feel of the walk is too easily overshadowed by the subtly insistent desire to identify. There is a bird I hear regularly and can see in the treetops, but its identity eludes me. Not satisfied with knowing it as a song, I brought the binoculars this morning and of course the bird was nowhere to be seen or heard. Somehow this suited me just fine.


Because I spent the walk identifying, I might as well share “the list”:

A pair of junco’s and the song of a white throated sparrow met us as we arrived.

In the pond two black ducks took off and a wood duck hid along the bank. Last year the wood duck, not as easily spooked as the others, nested here.

Robins, grackles, red winged blackbirds, peepers and other frogs were around.

At the fishway, a mature and not-so-mature eagle, the beaver who has become a regular, rock doves and song sparrow.

In the bay I can hear and see a blurry variety of ducks. White suggests mergansers and the quacking, black ducks.

Cormorants, gulls and a couple of crows along the dam, on the shore a tall long-legged, long-billed wader that I can’t quite identify.

On the way back, chickadees, a blue jay and what may have been the first osprey of the season. Here’s the thing about binoculars; by the time I fumbled and got them to my eyes it was more-or-less out of clear view. Had I simply kept my eye on her, the bend of the ospreys elbow is so distinct it’s virtually impossible to miss.

Last but not least, a squirrel, barking dog and an old fellow sitting by his shed reading the newspaper.


I just realized that of the creatures I  saw and heard, aside from the wood duck, the only ones the binoculars helped with, were the-not-quite-identified wader and osprey. Clearly they are best left at home (where by the way, I have identified over 70 bird species while sitting on the back deck with a beer. For this the binoculars are perfect!)




2 thoughts on “The List

  1. Beautiful Chris! I felt like I was there. I still have an image of your face as a kid when I think of you. You are one of the rare adults that has kept that curious playful and in-awe spirit of your childhood. You are inspiring!

    • What a cool and kind thing to say Marion. Thanks very much. For my part I can never see anything from you without thinking of our time at Sibley Park. Our dads snorkelling and filling tackle boxes with the lures they’d fined hooked on deadheads and sunken logs. Campfires. Singsongs. Heating up twigs and leaves in pots of boiling mud water. Sitting on the beach, wandering through the forest – being great, great summertime friends. And I can hear your voice clear as can be.
      On another note, I was excited to see (on the notification that you’d commented) that you had a blog! Disappointed to see that it may have just been an idea. You should do it, you have such beautiful artwork to share.

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