|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)