Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dreambirding With The Next Generation

Small groves of trees in a prairie - a peaceful dreamscape...

This dream started with my exiting the end classroom in a wing of a single story school. It appeared to be elementary/primary from the size of building. Not far from the school, I was joined by another birder. We strolled through a fairly large expanse of grass, possibly a prairie, dotted with small groves of trees. There was no mention of where this was geographically, but the suite of birds suggests south Texas.

Meadowlark (Sturnella sp.) in familiar surroundings
Image online here

This other birder, a woman, shared we should keep our eyes open for an unspecified rarity that could be lurking in this kind of habitat. Early in our trek, a single Meadowlark (sp.) flushed and flew away from us. (It's challenging enough to ID them to species, in real life, without vocalizations... but in a dream? Please forgive me, just this one time.) As we walked on, unidentified sparrows flushed, flew a few dozen feet, and dropped down as abruptly as they popped up. Very Ammodramus-like don't you think?

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla) - Image online here

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) - Male
Image online here

In the next scene we were in one of the grove of trees, birding with a group of children. The place was alive with birds. Waves of excitement shot through crowd each time flock members flew across the grove, or wheeled around anywhere. You can't beat that kind of electricity. What an awesome feeling. Field Sparrow was identified, as was a finch species (the specific ID didn't survive the transition; however I believe it was a species native to Africa). Present, also, were at least three male Northern Cardinal.

"Attwater's" Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanychus cupido attwateri)
Image online here

My guide brought my attention away from having fun with the kids in order to point out that she had spotted a individual of the rarity she'd spoken of earlier. Getting satisfying looks at the bird proved difficult. I only got glimpses as it occasionally hopped up in to partial view above the grass, in apparent pursuit of making a butterfly it's next meal. It was clearly a Prairie Chicken! (This dream appearance was probably triggered by my recent reading of an article about their reintroduction onto private lands in Goliad Co., TX. Read more about this effort here.) Unfortunately, those brief looks were all I was going to get.

The disappointment was not long lasting, however. Upon turning around to focus back on the grove, a new species caught my eye. On a low branch, on the far side of a far tree, sat a very handsome Green Jay.

Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Image online

The typical dream integrity began breaking down as I started to wake up. The last moments saw the head, and bill, of the Green Jay steadily transforming into that of a Groove-billed Ani. Sometimes, such as in a dream like this one, the experience seems so real that when something like this happens it is initially unsettling.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

Image online here

No comments:


count visits
Apple iPod Touch 8GB