Day 77 - Eye on the Sparrow / by Edward Crim

There is a lot of room in Forest Park! Although you could drive past on the highway in  under two minutes (depending on the time of day) it’s still the sort of place where you could easily spend all day wandering. And there is room enough to do almost anything! Hold a race; yes. Play ball; check. Ride your bicycle as fast as you can go; indeed. Wander lonely as a cloud; absolutely. Fly a kite up to the highest height; most certainly. Land your Klingon Bird of Prey; you betcha!

There is, however, a bit more of a challenge when you are a photographer looking for something different to feature each day. I try to let each new day flow from the previous day’s experience. I think about where I’ve been and wander other parts of the park until something arrests my attention.

Today, when I stopped and got my cameras out, I heard someone calling. He was high in the tree next to me, the first northern flicker of the season! I only managed to get two shots of him before he was off. I followed slowly, drinking in the light. By the Victorian Footbridge the paperbark birches were dripping where they had recently been trimmed. Robins and red winged blackbirds pecked along the ground finding something they seemed to like. 

I crossed the bridge and walked along the water’s edge, alarming a frog who plunked himself somewhere else, then swam away. It is called the Prairie Boardwalk, the deck work path that follows the water and affords an excellent view of the birds that frequent that area. The big birds have not yet arrived, so other than the 3 ducks and 2 geese, it is only the little birds that I see. As of yet, there are no egrets, no herons, no nighthawks. I haven’t yet seen any of the killdeer that were are so plentiful along the metro tracks by my studio. The park’s owl population is small (there is only room for one family of super predators here), and there are a few hawks, but mostly it’s nuthatches, cardinals, robins, downy woodpeckers and other little birds that greet me as I walk.

I hear a northern flicker at the top of a nearby tree making a lot of noise. A bluejay flashes past in a blur of brilliant color. In the top of the tree where the northern flicker was before I pointed my camera at him, I see a starling look nervously around as he pecks at something. On one of the small islands in the stream beside me, robins swarm for food, while nearby mourning doves chirp and make their sorrowful cry.

To my left, as I walk south near the Steinberg rink, the ground slopes upward toward Kingshighway and sunlight filters down through the trees, their shadows streaming towards me. In the grass a northern flicker worries the ground looking for food. A siren shrieks in the background above the normal rumble and buzz of the city traffic, but he seems not to notice. A Sparrow hops around, flitting along the water’s side, where he pauses to take a quick drink, keeping a suspicious eye on me. I spy a turtle on the other side of the water about the same time he gets an eyeful of me, and before I can train my camera on him, he has slipped away into the murky waters of the Steinberg Savanna.

Two Canadas graze in the grass just north of the Steinberg skating rink.I walk between them and the water and they’re not pleased. Necks up high and heads toward me, they decide, when I’m some hundred feet beyond them, that I represent little danger and go back to their task. In the meantime, I almost step on a robin. This little guy is a bit too trusting!

Mourning dove on the Savanna boardwalk. Click for more photos.

Mourning dove on the Savanna boardwalk. Click for more photos.