Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of striking out on my own to bird Hillman Marsh. Unfortunately, Sylvain can’t enjoy this birding venue due to the bumpy mud paths. We’ve both been getting email alerts about all sorts of species being seen there, and I wanted to try to add some of them to my “100 Species Challenge” list. Although it feels a bit uncomfortable for me to go off without Sylvain, he said he understood.
Normally I do my hospice volunteering after work on Mondays, but I had a last-minute cancellation. I decided to hit the highway, stopping by home just long enough to change into birding clothes and jot down directions to the conservation area. Sylvain always does the driving, so I was a bit nervous about getting lost. Actually, I always get lost, but if I’m careful I can limit it to only being lost for about 5 minutes each way.
Six cars made the tiny parking area look full. A birder on her way out, spotting scope slung over her shoulder, let us know what we could expect to see: Willet, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher (!)…. I tucked myself behind a group whose gear was marked Swarovski and planted myself within earshot when they sat on a bench and began discussing the birds out in the shorebird cell. After some time observing the waders, gulls, ducks and terns, this group decided to go in search of the Eared Grebe that has been reported there this week. I asked them if I might tag along, and they were kind enough to have me. I even got to peer through the huge honkin’ scope.
Learning that I live in Windsor, the group leader said, “I guess you come here all the time.” I told him why I don’t. A woman in the group, perhaps the wife of he group leader, then hung back from the boys to talk to me about that. She has a son who uses a wheelchair and she coaches paralympics. One of the first things she had on her mind was the new and not-so-improved trolley to the point.
Not only did I enjoy a couple of hours in the company of very nice folks, I added 20 species to my Challenge list. All my sightings for Hillman Marsh are:
Canada Geese with young (lots and lots, all hissing and not happy about human presence)
Double-crested Cormorant (fly over)
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture (overhead)
Long-billed Dowitcher (confirmed by two separate parties of advanced birders)
Northern Rough-Winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow (yes, really)