Ever since reading this article, my mother, the expert ornithologist, has been asking me about the possibility of seeing the rare Northern Saw-Whet Owl in the park. (Notably, the same article simply prompted a wave of childhood memories in me, most prominent among them being recollections of a certain ill-fated trip to a sewage factory to see a set of elusive water birds. But that is another story.) So, when I rounded the corner on Center Drive this morning and spotted the forlorn birdwatcher, I was elated. I slowed, and beamed at him. He looked alarmed.
Familiar with the extreme reticence of the birder type, I cut to the chase: Have you seen any Saw-Whet Owls recently?
He grimaced in a not unpleasant way: Well, not recently. But they’re around. I saw one a few months ago.
I gave him the benefit of a wide smile: That’s amazing! That’s great!
He agreed, and we mutually decided that the park was indeed a magical place, full of native plantings and birds.
I ventured: I have seen a hawk eating a squirrel, twice!
He countered: Oh, well, there are some nested Red-tailed Hawks, a pair of Merlins, too.
Sensing an opportunity, I pressed him: So, what’s the best thing you’ve seen?
He grinned happily: Well, that would be a Purple Gallinule, I think.