Sunday, July 8, 2012

Crouching in Bushes Pays Off, Eventually

I was feeling antsy and unproductive yesterday afternoon, for, with Dave gone, nest-checks done and any attempt at analyzing playback videos only leading to serious procrastination on tumblr, I wasn't really getting anything done. It was a nice, breezy, cloudy day and so, after my umpteenth tumblr dashboard refresh, I snapped the lid of my laptop shut, grabbed my camera and set off to stake out the Spotted Sandpiper nest.

I hid myself in a convenient bush of stinging nettle across the trail from Yellow Flower Nest. The sandpiper flushed off when I got there, of course, but I was prepared to wait for it to come back, however long it would take.

It took a while.

I crouched in the nettles for over an hour, getting stung to no end by fire ants and, quite hilariously, not being noticed by the five people that walked by, two of them actually stopping to have a conversation right in front of Yellow Flower Nest. I was tempted to jump out at them, binoculars and camera at the ready, yelling “sandpiper!” and gesticulating wildly. Needless to say, I controlled the urge.

However, just as my attention was starting to wander and I was looking up trying to spot a gull that had just wooooshed by, I heard a soft weet. And there it was, not more than two meters away from me, a cautious little Spotted Sandpiper, fidgeting, looking around and running up and down the trail on its surprisingly fast, spindly little legs.

Spotted Sandpiper, checking out its surroundings

Presenting, Spotted Sandpier from Yellow Flower Nest

Eventually it hopped onto the rock and started preening, trying to look as nonchalant as possible but avoiding even looking its nest. I fired away.

Fluffing out its feathers, trying to appear nonchalant

After much cautious weeting, and after cleaning each flight feather at least twenty times, the little shorebird hopped down onto its nest... and disappeared from sight.

I had stupidly chosen the worst vantage point possible for Yellow Flower's shrubbery was completely blocking my view of the nest. I tried to move as silently as I could, but the sandpiper was having none of it and flushed in an instant. Oh well. Better luck next time, I suppose.

Today, it was the Eastern Kingbird nest's turn to be stalked. Who would have known that they would prove even harder to stalk than the fidgety sandpiper. I crouched in a, thankfully stinging nettle-less, bush for over three hours as the sun set around me, watching the pair of kingbirds fly back and forth between two trees, calling, preening, fly-catching, and, best of all mobbing an adult Herring Gull, but never venturing close to their nest.

The pair of Eastern Kingbirds. An overexposed shot that turned out artsy!

The pair.

Eastern Kingbird with moth

Eastern Kingbird, preening

The female was being such a tease! The nest was on a tree that was right in the middle of her flight path between the two other trees, and every time she swooped by my heart would leap into my mouth for it would look like she was going to land on the nest.

The female, taking off yet again

The bursts of adrenaline, and associated sightings of Grey Catbirds, Carolina Wrens and Herring Gulls getting mobbed, kept me rooted to my spot, despite the steady loss of feeling in my legs. 


I managed to trace the entire process of my dessert being digested before the female finally decided to pay a brief visit to her nest, allowing me to snap a grainy picture, before flying off again, landing on a nearby perch and sitting there looking pretty in the light of the setting sun.

The female on the nest!

Lookin' pretty

Ah, the setting sun. When it finally got too dark to get a good picture of the nest, regardless of whether the bird decided to return to it or not, I made my way back to Kiggins and, emerging from the bushy walls of the Turbine Trail, I was treated to the most marvellous sunset I have ever seen. The sky was on fire; broad, colourful streaks of the most magnificent fire, stretching across the entire swath of sky like a rich tapestry. Nothing, nothing, compares to an Appledore sunset.   

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