March 11 2018. Merrick Orchard, Dundas Hamilton, ON. I think it happens to all of us: you entertain a fleeting and random thought and no sooner has your attention let it go than the object of that randomness suddenly pops up in real life, right in front of you. Sometimes you can rationalize the coincidence, other times it gets you wondering about sixth senses, apparitions or guardian angels; or maybe it’s just plain old coincidence after all.
Today’s random pop-up was an Eastern Bluebird, actually a pair of them. I had been hiking a long and, at times challenging, woodland trail with steep hills and patches of ice (a nasty combination). The trail eventually opened up to a grassy old orchard dotted with patches of Multiflora Rose, it was where several trails came together. Just as I was thinking that it was the right sort of habitat for bluebirds or maybe even a shrike, and making a mental note to come back in a couple of months, a small bird flew up from the edge of the path to an overhanging branch. A quick binocular look and there, as if fulfilling a prophesy, was an Eastern Bluebird, it made my head spin for a moment. As I debated whether I could make any photographic sense of it, it flew to one of those clumps of Multiflora Rose taking its mate with it. That was an improvement as it was now close enough to be able to get several decent shots. It’s hard to imagine a more subtly beautiful bird than this, there are many equally beautiful, but how could anyone improve on this little thrush? (Yes, a thrush.)
As I continued my walk the unmistakable ringing call of a Pileated Woodpecker from somewhere back in the forest added nicely to an otherwise rather un-birdy late winter hike.
I remember a similar sort of happy coincidence three years ago in New Jersey when, as a friend and I walked out of a woodland edge and into an open but scrubby field, I commented that this felt like a good spot for Blue-winged Warblers. With that, one started singing just a few yards away. I wondered at the time whether its faint beee-bzzzzz song had found its way into the wait-a-minute-I’m-too busy-right-now corner of my brain and just needed a trip to my consciousness; or was it something altogether more obscure and spectral? Or maybe I just spend too much time birding.