Thursday, January 6, 2011
Birds Along the Betar
When Sue invited me to join her on this brisk sunny day for a morning walk along the Betar Byway, I jumped at the chance. A wide paved walkway that runs along the Hudson in South Glens Falls, the Betar is beautiful any time of year. And in winter, its tangled thickets of bittersweet and sumac, plus its proximity to open water, make it a favorite gathering place for lots and lots of birds -- including species you wouldn't normally expect to find in winter. With her excellent eyesight and encyclopedic knowledge of birdsong, Sue makes a perfect birding companion for one who's as blind as I am. But even I have seen Bald Eagles here.
We could hear the birds better than see them -- cardinals and waxwings and chickadees and titmice and nuthatches -- all the winter regulars flitting about in the shrubs and the tops of trees. Then Sue said, Listen! It's bluebirds! And sure enough, after searching the treetops we found them, the morning sun lighting up their russet breasts. One even perched for a moment so we could get a good look at it. (Unfortunately, my camera insisted on focusing on the branches, but at least you can see the bird's color.) Although robins and bluebirds have become more and more common as winter residents, it's still a delight to chance upon them.
One other bird let us get a good look at it as it inched up the trunk of a pine tree. The pretty little Brown Creeper only creeps upward in its diligent search for insects hidden away in the bark, which it snags with that sharp curved beak, so perfectly suited for the purpose. Again and again this little brown bird ascended the trunk, then dropped to the ground and began its ascent again, hardly paying the slightest attention to us as we crept in close for a photo.
Almost as delightful as the birds this sparkling morning were the many forms of ice we found. There was hoarfrost covering the pretty round leaves of creeping Moneywort.
Along the river's edge, the ice attached to the shore was a tangle of geometric shards and needles that flashed in the sunlight.
Clear thin ice had formed on a pool of a tiny stream, the surface etched with curvaceous white lines that reminded me of the lines on a contour map.
Ah, so many sweet satisfactions! A good friend, a beautiful day, a fascinating place for a walk, and time to enjoy it all. I am certainly blessed.