I’m staying in Atlanta, Georgia, this week for a work conference. There are about five hundred people at this conference, and the majority of my days have been spent inside a hotel talking to people I don’t really know about fundraising at the organization I work for. As an introvert, I find this incredibly exhausting. I often find myself wishing I had a power reset button I could use.
A very short walk from my hotel is Piedmont Park, a real gem of an urban park in Atlanta. I went for a walk yesterday, not really intending to end up at the park even though I knew it was there. After meandering around for a few minutes I found myself at the park’s entrance though and decided I would probably rather walk through it than wander aimlessly around Atlanta.
About five minutes after I got to the park I found myself at Lake Clara Meer, and just as I was observing the Muscovy ducks in the water (they’re very strange ducks with red faces, quite possibly the ugliest bird I’ve ever seen) I saw a Great Blue Heron gliding across the sky. I see Great Blue Herons in Iowa, but I always find them to be a treat because they are such beautiful, halcyon birds.
I visited the park once again this morning and had almost the exact same experience, but this time I had my binoculars with me and was able to get a good view of the heron flying into the trees lining the lake. I sat on the dock of the lake for quite a while, just letting my mind rest and giving myself time to look inward. There was a man feeding ducks on the dock and I watched him as he slowly tore up small pieces of bread as the mallards approached him. Several smaller birds glided over the water and through the sky. I felt like I could sit on that dock forever and be perfectly content to be invisible.
I got up to walk along the trail, and as soon as I turned a corner I saw that same heron sitting in a tree. I often try to take photographs of the birds I see with my iPhone as I walk around to help make identifications later. This is actually my least favorite way to bird, I much prefer to make identifications as I’m birding but it’s not always possible. I’ve seen over 20 different species of birds in my two trips to Piedmont Park, and I have to say that while I love seeing new species I get a lot more pleasure from seeing the same species frequently and getting to know them. When I see a heron I feel as if I’m seeing a very old friend who only visits occasionally. It’s a lovely feeling to see an old friend.
More about birding at Piedmont Park later this week…