One of my duties at Maclay Gardens State Park is to work the Ranger Station at the park entrance. Every 4-5 weeks from 715am to 330pm, Monday thru Thursday I work the box, collecting entrance fees, selling park passes etc. One of the benefits, for me, of working in the box is I get to see some pretty cool wildlife. I've lost count of how many Bobcats I've seen, Red Foxes are common and White-tailed Deer walk by without a care in the world, much to the chagrin of their WMA cousins! The birds are pretty cool as well, Hooded Warbler inside the box, Worm-eating Warbler in my hand after landing on the road exhausted, Cooper's Hawk eating a cardinal, a covey of quail walking single file across the park road and flock after flock of American Robins heading south ahead of a cold front. Today was a very birdy day, the last hour was the most productive and no surprise it coincided with a sunny spell. 2 Blue-headed Vireos issued their witch-like cackle, a
White-eyed Vireo sang for his beer check (hey it is New Year's Eve), Ruby-crowned Kinglets fussed, Golden-crowned Kinglets seeped, American Goldfinches tueeed and a bird creeping head first down a water oak resembled an Everton mint (look it up) but the bird heading in the other direction was a very pleasant surprise. A Browncreeper! For 20 minutes I got great looks down to 5 feet and my only regret was that my camera equipment was sitting idle at home. That was no surprise! My first year of working in the box at Maclay ended on a high.
For the record I have not quit birding but thanks to those for checking on me. After spending the majority of my 38 years of life looking at birds that would seem impossible. I have however devolved as a birder. Chasing rare birds, or twitching as we call it in Europe, is a thing of the past and competitive listing no longer appeals to me or my ego. I haven't the slightest idea how many species I've seen this year and I've forgotten what my life list total is, who cares? I've started looking at birds as birds again and not as check marks. Once again I am observing, learning and enjoying. Happy New Year!
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