Steve White’s Animaux

The company ski trip was in Zell am See in Austria. We found there several pretty birds, including Wacholderdrossel (Fieldfare), who were especially interested in late fruits in the snow.

Walking in the fields West of Golm that are rapidly being destroyed so that people can reproduce and reproduce some more, I saw Rohrammer (Reed Bunting); he was concerned only with his own reproduction.

In Spring, I took walks in Potsdam Wildpark. Here a Tannenmeise (Coal Tit) observed me from a small distance. I only saw the one, but from the little clicking noises, I suspect the trees were full of them.

With some acquaintances from my Deutschkurs, I traveled to the Nationalpark Unteres Odertal on the Oder river near Schwedt. From here I caught my first sight of Poland. This is supposed to be the largest remaining river wetland in Europe.

The Oder was full of Reiherente, and the marsh was full of Reiher, and Zwergmöwe in full breeding plumage leapt out of the grass and swooped and screeched the whole time. A Kraniche was spotted, and although it was doubted, the red crown gave it away.

There were a dozen or so Seeadler taking care of their part of the enterprise. The single most amazing thing was a group of dead trees in the middle of the marsh (not easily accessible on foot) completely full of nesting Kormoran. They were black perched on bleached tree skeletons, between the dazzling blue and green.

My trip to Abilene this year. In the Buffalo Gap Cemetery, I saw a very little bird, and commenced stalking it. Had a really good look: Slate gray top, much lighter below, sulphur belly, light gray chin, narrow dark beak, black tail with very pronounced white vee. I think it was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, although the sulphur belly isn’t right. The markings aren’t right for other small birds with yellow bellies. Maybe it had wallowed in something.

The Western Kingbirds were just fledging their young, so I had a good look at several of their species, which had previously escaped my notice.

In mom’s back yard, there were hummingbirds. I only saw females, but I’m told they were probably Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. They were after some long-throated orange flowers mom had planted, and would lite often in the mesquite tree. To my wicked delight, I saw one of these little guys attack a sparrow—not just once but viciously, until all the sparrows left the yard. Mom says in this world you gotta be mean or fast, and hummers are both.

Another bird in the Golm field, near a dwindling body of water, was the very vocal Sumpfrohrsänger.

I have been waiting for this one. Walking with my friend Tali in the gardens in front of Schloß Sanssouci, we saw a couple of the outrageous Stieglitz (European Goldfinch). They were difficult to pick out from the poppies and other flowers!

Back at my sister Linda’s place in San Angelo, Texas, we saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker making its way up a pecan tree, tapping out its little holes.

I got a close-up look at another Pyrrhuloxia in her back yard feeder. It was in glorious plumage—a cherry-candy-red bar running down its breast, and cherry-candy-red eye markings.