There are a lot of things I like about birding- anticipating returning birds (not long until the Mississippi Kites and Swainson’s Hawks and all the summer songbirds return,) watching nesting birds (I’m keeping and eye on two Red-tailed Hawk nests,) and watching territorial and mating displays (Hooded Mergansers and Buffleheads are pretty funny.) I enjoy listening to songs (the wrens are really cranking it up right now,) and just sitting quietly in a blind, or in tall grass, or in the cab of my truck waiting for something to come by. One thing tops it all though, and that is hearing a song or call you’ve never heard and searching the trees and bushes, the clumps of grass or stands of reeds along a shoreline, ever so slowly and quietly, camera at the ready, and then suddenly you see the noise-maker. You snap a few photos, the first ones quickly so that you at least have a record, and then, if the bird allows, you try to find a place to stand or sit so that the light is just right and the bird is close enough for a portrait. More often than not the first ones are the only ones I get and I have to make do with them.
That happened today as my wife and I hiked down McBride Canyon on the southern end of the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. We happened upon these Western Scrub Jays about halfway down the canyon. Scrub Jays aren’t unusual around here but this is the first I’ve seen in the nearly four years I’ve been birding. Unfortunately the initial quick snaps were all I got. The bird is in the shade and there is sunlight behind it so the photos aren’t that good, but I was still pretty excited about them. This is number 212 on my life list.