Birds of a feather flock together

Knowing that today would be chilly (and, apparently, snowy), I went to see my mom yesterday for a physically distant yet socially connected Mother’s Day.

Mom and I at McCarthy Park 4/18/2020

In a typical year we would be gearing up for a long weekend in Bayfield County for the Chequamegon Bay Birding and Nature Festival — but it is understandably canceled due to COVID-19. Traveling up north to go birding may be off the table during this year’s spring migration, but that’s given us an excuse to find other places to explore nearby. I’m grateful we can still spend time with each other — even if it’s from six feet away and wearing buffs.

So far we’ve met up between Madison and Watertown and have seen meadowlarks, sandhill cranes, snipe, goldfinches, golden- and ruby-crowned kinglets, brown creepers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, Nashville, yellow, and yellow-rumped warblers at McCarthy Youth and Conservation Park, Token Creek County Park, and CamRock County Park.

Yesterday I drove out to the farm in Lebanon, and we went for a walk along the woods and into the marsh to the edge of our property — something I’ve never done, mostly because it’s usually too wet and I assumed there was nothing to see.

But a little change in scenery was appreciated.

The east side of the woods was still blooming with spring ephemerals. Not in the way you see some hillsides carpeted in flowers, but spots here and there had lovely trilliums, bloodroot, mayapple, white trout lily, violet, false rue anemone, and even jack-in-the-pulpit.

As we walked toward the end of the woods, a great blue heron soared above.

And nearing the ditch full of sumac, we spotted a bobolink.

Then we walked past marsh marigolds and curled around the back of a small island of trees that only seemed to attract red-winged blackbirds.

Turning around to face the farm from this angle and distance was interesting. It seemed so foreign.

Since our neighbors are good friends (and my sponsors) we decided to take the long way home through their properties. Mom led the way, hopping on mounds of grass and dirt to cross the ditch and following deer trails between the marsh and treeline.

Then we checked on our neighbors’ birdhouse before walking through our other neighbors’ woods on the way home.

Their woods is not grown up with underbrush like ours is, and apparently that’s because of all the farm animals — cows and pigs — we’ve had dropping seeds around throughout the years.

Back on our familiar road, we heard the strange, bubbly call of bobolinks again from atop the field.

Blending in with the dandelions, three yellow heads of male bobolinks appeared before flying off together — probably in search of mates.

I’m taking some comfort in knowing that the natural world is continuing its seasonal motions, even though ours are disrupted.

Here’s to new perspectives and finding safe ways to connect with those we love.

I love you, mom.

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