Dateline: Cattaraugus County, Western New York State
There is, quite near us, a wondrous place called the Pfeiffer Nature Center. It owns some lovely woodland and holds all kinds of interesting activities. Last year I went there for a mushroom walk. This spring, bird-watching was on offer.
May is a good time, apparently, as a lot of birds are flying back north for the summer and the Nature Center is a good motorway service station, as it were, for them.
There are ponds and shrubs and trees and the open sort of woodland they like and which I'm told is hard to find these days. My companions were all considerably more expert than me.
The could tell what a bird was just by its tweet and had an uncanny knack of spotting them. I spent a lot of time peering through my binoculars at a lot of leaves and branches and saying plaintively, "Which way did it go?" You have to be quick with these birds. "It takes practice!" said a nice lady, soothingly. One of my few spottings was a chestnut-sided warbler. This, of course, is not my photo.
I missed the scarlet tanager and the magnolia warbler and the Blackburnian warbler and the bluebird and countless others (I never knew there were so many different kinds of warblers in existence in the world, let alone at the Pfeiffer Nature Center) but I did manage to see an indigo bunting.
I felt as if I'd rather been thrown in the deep end but I'll have to try it again and hope to do better.
And it's a lovely place just to amble along the forest paths. Some naughty beavers had been at these trees.
The sun was shining and there were wildflowers everywhere.
There are certainly worse ways to spend a morning.