There’s an iconic saying from the movie, Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.” I felt that way when we put up our first hummingbird feeder, our first Bluebird house and even the first bird seed feeder. Put it out there, the birds will show up. I was amazed and gratified.
This year, I have learned something a bit different. This year I was able to travel around our property for the first time in years. After having double shoulder replacement surgery, my intense and constant pain was gone. The golf cart could negotiate bumpy terrain and I didn’t wince. All of a sudden, I realized there were things to see! Many things. Beautiful, interesting things, curious and hard-to-believe they exist things – things were all around. I not only wanted to see them, I wanted to record their existence with my camera.
Yesterday, Robert and I were out by the pond. He was securing a big, Wood Duck box to a large post and I was there for moral support.
As he was dragging an electric cord from an inverter in the van over to the pole, I spotted something moving across the pond. For a couple of days, I had seen a lone Pied-billed Grebe swimming about, diving for frogs or whatever she was seeking, then skimming across the surface as if she owned the place. In a way, she did. There weren’t any other birds on the pond. I had no clue it was a Pied-billed Grebe, because I had no clue there was even such a thing. Still, I am very happy to have learned about this bird and been able to observe it and capture its image.
As Robert labored with the duck box, I went to investigate the activity a bit father south, in a small inlet of the pond where the water is still, and cattails grow. Immediately, I realized there were a few birds, and my initial assumption was that the Grebe had company. Perhaps she quacked them in as fellow Grebes flew overhead. Perhaps, they were another species that she might find compatible. There were three birds milling about at the water’s edge. That was the best I could do as I squinted into the afternoon sun. I hoped the digital images wouldn’t present mere silhouettes of the water fowl. If so, I would be hard pressed to determine the species without assistance. I snapped away and hoped for the best.
Once back at my computer, I began to review the images like this completed project of the duck box – which, I truly hope a Kestrel or Owl assumes, rather than Wood Ducks.
Then the photos of the birds scrolled up. The first few pictures suggested these were some sort of duck. They had their bills in the mud, obviously searching for a snack. They had very distinct body markings which thrilled me. If you have ever tried to figure out female ducks across the species, dang it’s tough. I was happy I’d be able to go on markings, not just the drab brown coloring to identify these, curiously shaped ducks.
Then, my jaw dropped. As I scanned the images, I realized that first one, then all three lifted their heads out of the water to reveal one crazy, long and narrow bill. They appeared to be drinking out of straws!
These are Wilson’s Snipe. Yeah. Another species I never knew existed but that I am very happy to have encountered. They are welcome to stop by for a little rest and relaxation on their migration… in our pond. So cool. And, from what I see, they spend their winter months from northern Illinois all they way to central America. Perhaps, they will be frequent visitors.
Had I not been looking about while hanging out with my husband, I wouldn’t have spotted them. They were immersed in brown mud, hugging the edge of the pond which is surrounded by brown grasses and weeds that reflected onto the water’s surface so that their whole world appeared to exist in shades of brown.
If you Look, you will see.