The Mystery Bird

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Encounters with wildlife excite me. It especially amazes me when an animal approaches me, as if to be my friend, even though it is wild. I wonder why they do, or why they run away. A couple of weeks ago, we went camping at a recreational site about 40 minutes from home. We’d never been there, and the camp sites were nice, with lots of trees around them — in some places, the usual poplar, but in other places, magnificent tall, straight pines covered in “witches’ hair moss.” There aren’t any pine trees on the drive there, just at the rec site and parkland around. We drove the campsite loop and chose the site we liked best — not too shady and not too open. We wanted sun, because it wasn’t going to be too hot out, but also wanted some wind break.

Machesis LakeNot long after setting up camp, Darren noticed a bird hopping along the ground and then sitting on its nest. It was only about 20 feet from where we’d pitched our tent, but the bird seemed fairly undisturbed by us. It sat there for quite a while and we eventually went off to explore the lake.

We had a great campfire both nights we were there, and even made a fire in the mornings to make our egg, weiner, and cheese sandwiches baked in the invaluable pie-iron. 🙂 We love the pie iron, whatever would we do without it! The first morning, as we ate our delicious egg-wiches, we saw the small bird hopping along, picking insects out of the air for its breakfast — we hoped it was eating mosquitos! — and then returning to its nest. It was a pretty small bird, with long legs, Bird's nestand later I got a picture of it and searched the bird book to identify it (click here to see if you can spot it). I think it was a Veery, way out of its range, but it may have also been a Hermit Thrush or Swainson’s Thrush. The second morning, the bird was off its nest and not around, so I cautiously approached and took a pic of it (seen at left). I was surprised how deep the nest was — probably about 10 cm (4″).

It was a little after breakfast on the second morning that a most amazing thing happened. Darren and I were standing beside the picnic table, wiping dishes I think, when a different bird landed on the picnic table and just looked at us. Then it hopped to change its direction, looked at us a little more, for about 20 seconds altogether as we stood motionless, and then it flew into a nearby tree. It sat there for another minute or so before flying away. It seemed so smart, and curious about us, and completely unafraid. What ever caused it to land so close to us? It was only about 3 feet from me, 4 from Darren.  Incredible. It was completely dark grey — no stripes, spots, or any other colours. It had dark eyes and a fairly large beak, and incredibly shiny feathers. It was amazing! We had lots of time to look at it as it checked us out… and I haven’t found it in my bird book. A friend suggested it might have been a young crow or raven, curious about us… but it was grey, not black. So, it’s a mystery, and I feel quite blessed to have been visited by it. There’s no explaining it… maybe it just knew we are peaceful, and wouldn’t hurt it, so it flew down to say hello.

Bear tracksWe went for a long walk on the first day, along an established skidoo/quad trail. It was like a quad highway, very wide, sandy, and with lots of tracks — some people, bikes, wolves/dogs/coyotes, and even bear tracks. We didn’t see any bears at all, which was good. For all we know, they were in the bush, watching us and keeping their distance.

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