Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Art and Poetry of the Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover on South Beach in Chatham, MA September 13, 2011

Two years ago I spent a magical day on South Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts. On that one day I added 15 new species to my Life List. But that day was about more than adding Life Birds. It was about spending time with good friends who love birds and nature as much as I do. It was about having an adventure that I never thought I would have until someone invited me to come along. As we rode across the channel on the ferry with the wind in our faces the sky above us was crystal blue reflected in the clear water below. There was no dock on the island. We had to leap from the boat and wade to shore. Overhead thousands of migrating tree swallows whirled as we began our trek through sand and sea grass in search of birds. We spent the whole day out there on that island with no other people in sight. I never felt so wild in my life and it almost felt as if I were moving in a dream. By the end of the day the as the tide was rolling in we waded through much deeper water back to the place where the ferry was scheduled to pick us up. I rode home sun-washed and tired and so, so happy. For me, Birding is Fun not only because of the birds I see, but because of the life experiences that I have, and the people I get to meet. Birding is fun because of the way it makes me feel, and the art and poetry that springs from my interactions with nature. Birding in not only fun; for me it is necessary, because it makes me feel alive and connected to this beautiful planet that I live on. 

 On this September day in 2011 I saw my first Black-bellied Plover. I remember feeling so awed by seeing this bird. It was one of the fifteen new species I saw on that day. While these photos may not be of National Geographic quality, for me they are a reminder of what that day felt like with it's air of magic and art and poetry. Two years ago I wrote a poem about these birds and this day.  I have posted it below. These photos remind me of a style of painting called pointillism popularized by the art of Georges Seurat. Between the poem and the pictures I hope that maybe you will also be able to feel a bit of the joy and wonder I felt on that late summer day on South Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts. It is the search for that feeling that keeps me out in nature and watching birds.




The Black-bellied plover in autumn
is a black and white painting of a bird
an exercise in pointillism
by the God who designs birds
feathered creatures who fly
and wade on ocean shores
where wind and water shape their lives
and bend the light
'til we see dots.

~kathie adams brown (September 23, 2011)


If you would like to read the Original Posts about this day, just click on the links below:


15 comments:

  1. Excellent post. Black-bellied Plovers are plentiful up here in the autumn and always a delight.

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    1. KaHolly, I was so awed when I saw them!

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  2. Those sort of days are really special, and I think you're right that they are magic, and will live long in our memories just as if we were still there experiencing it all.

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    1. Happy wanderer (I love that name!) I so agree!

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  3. Great post, Kathie! The Black-bellied Plovers are a nice sign of the shorebirds migrating around here. Great photos. Happy Birding!

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  4. Kathy, I was just there last week!!! And I saw Black-bellied Plovers there too. While that wasn't a life bird, I did add 11 other life birds there.

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    1. Robert, you were on south Beach in Chatham! Oh my! Well, then you must realize EXACTLY what I am talking about! Isn't that place great? I added a ton of Life birds on my day spent there as well. If it wasn't for Jeff and Dawn Fine inviting me along I would never have had that wonderful experience. Matt Malin was there that day as well. He saw buff-breasted sandpipers. I saw them as they flew away overhead but did not add them to my Life List as I really did not get a good look at them and wouldn't have even known what they were if he hadn't called them out. Congrats on your lifers. I hope we will be hearing about this soon?

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  5. A wonderful post, what an incredible place to spend time with good friends of like mind.

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    1. Denise, I will never forget this day! Thanks!

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  6. What a great post, Kathie! Definitely sounds like a day to remember on this wonderful island! Black-bellied Plovers are really neat with their bold patterns.

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    1. Tammy, it was certainly a fun bird to add to my Life List!

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  7. You are describing my dream trip, one that I had always wanted to do but physically is no longer possible for me. Beautiful shots, Kathie, and love your poem!

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    1. Hilke, I am so glad you enjoyed the post and so sorry that you cannot make this trip yourself! If Dawn Fine had not invited me I would never have even known about this place! I hope you could enjoy it vicariously!

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  8. Fantastic post! What a marvelous experience. Black-bellied Plovers are especially handsome in their breeding plumage. Terrific images!

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