I realized after I'd read my previous post the day after I wrote it that I'd forgotten to honor the fact that it was my 150th post to beginningtobird. I'd mentioned in the entry title but then got so wrapped up in my pileated sighting that I just plain forgot to celebrate. Woo-hoo!
Tonight, Kat and I hosted a gathering of several members of the State College Birding Club along with the owners of the marsh behind my house. Greg and Mary Kay Williams own the marsh and Cooke Tavern Bed and Breakfast. They're great people who actually created this marsh from a horse pasture. They removed the "tile drains" (not sure what those are but they apparently drained off the natural water on the property) and worked with several local, state, and national organizations to develop the wetland. They've lived here for 17 years, and their work--this marsh--was the deciding factor in our decision to buy this house. Mary Kay was glad to hear about our love of the marsh, as most of our other neighbors have called it "a mosquito pit." Whatever. This place rocks.
So some people from the birding club came out as well to look for sora, Virginia rail, and American bittern. We'd hoped for the great egrets, but Mary Kay says she thinks they left. It's been a while since I'd seen them, but I was hoping they were just nesting. Oh well. Saw some great heron tracks, so I know they're still around. We saw rails and sora, who were very stirred up by one member's BirdPod. They walked right up to us, gathered in a group on Neighbor Ed's fenceline looking into the marsh. One began an energetic territory protection display so we moved on.
The bitterns must be nesting, maybe, because they didn't respond to the BirdPod, but I've seen them lately and feel sure they're still around. We stopped trying after just a bit to avoid irritating them.
All in all, we didn't see too many birds, but it was a beautiful evening and it was very exciting to have real bird clubbers hanging out here!
The high point of the night for me occurred once everyone had arrived and we were ready to hit the marsh. Greg and Mary Kay asked if Kat was coming along with us (she had been sitting out in the backyard with me, discussing the details of her day, when everyone arrived). The look on her face was priceless, and in her mental voice (which is too high for most humans, except for me, to hear), she cried, "Oh my god, I'm in birding hell!" But all that came out in the common human ear's hearing range was "Oh, no thanks!" She even managed a rather forced smile!
After everyone left, she told me that she felt like Non-Birding Bill must feel all the time. Gotta love her; she sticks to her "birds are creepy" guns even in the presence of hard-core birders. She's my rock!
I warned her I'd have to blog about this incident, and she just kept repeating "I was in birding hell" and shaking her head, shell-shocked. She says she can tell when she's about to enter birding hell with me when I'm talking with someone else in some random situation when, out of the blue, someone (other than me) will use "birding" as a verb (as opposed to "bird-watching"). That's when I hear her mental voice, like a tiny banshee, wailing somewhere far away. Those moments are priceless. I'm in birding heaven, she's in birding hell.