September’s Magic

It was that kind of morning; a dark foggy cool morning, just right for staying in bed and getting some extra shut-eye. But after the birding-side of my brain argued with the sleepy-side of my brain, I arrayed myself in birding attire, grabbed the binoculars, and headed out the door. A few minutes later I was at Dyess, sitting in the dark and waiting for the sun to come up. Then I heard “them.” The migrating birds. Overhead. Small barely audible little seeps and chips! Now I couldn’t wait for dawn; I needed some light to illuminate the sounds. But as dawn finally arrived, the earth around me became quiet. I saw nothing; heard nothing; so back to the truck I went. As I rounded the side of the truck, a little feather ball shot out from under the wheel well almost brushing next to my leg. Grabbing the binoculars I located a little bird in the trees bobbing up and down as if it was doing deep knee bends to ward off the early morning chill. Oh! I need to document this bird! Quick, grab the camera from the truck; turn it on; get the settings right; darn! there’s not enough light! When I focused the camera where the bird had perched, of course it was gone.

Then a little chip and a quietly uttered song told me the bird was up under my vehicle, no doubt taking advantage of the residual heat and the collection of bugs acquired during night-time driving. I walked around to the other side of the truck in an attempt to get its picture. Click! It hopped out on the tire and I got:


I looked at the image in the LCD window. Ugh, how can that picture be diagnostic? I tried again:


Since I don’t do Frustration well; I decided I’d do Patience and wait for the little feather ball to relocate to a more photogenic area. After a full ten minutes (my camera records the time on pictures) the little bird sailed out of its hiding place, perched on a lamp base out in the open, and showed off!


A Rock Wren! Three pictures later, it took off moving deeper into the Mesquite shrub, no doubt looking for more suitable winter habitat. Now I bet you’re thinking to yourself that this one incident doesn’t constitute “magic.” And I would agree with your assessment; but wait ’till you hear and see what happened next. During the morning’s birding, all those little unseen seeps and chips materialized: Clay-colored Sparrows, Pine Siskins, Nashville, Wilson’s, and Orange-crowned Warblers, a Common Yellowthroat, a Blue Grosbeak, and Baltimore and Orchard Orioles. Dyess got its first-of-the-season Northern Harrier and maybe their last-of-the-season Painted Bunting (a gorgeous male; boy did I enjoy seeing that one). Then I saw:

a Common Nighthawk invisibly perched along a tree branch:


a couple of late-nesting Canyon Towhees bringing food to a nest:


and…but wait; I’ll leave the show stopper in the September’s Magic photo album. And once you see it; you’ll have to agree that it was a magical morning!