anas (duck) acuta (pointed)
Saturday, March 22, 1980 — 8:15 am
Barrington, Illinois — Crabtree Nature Center
This pair of Pintails was standing on the ice on Crabtree Lake. Later, they were swimming in the open water in front of the blind.
By this time, I was becoming rather well known at Crabtree. This isn’t surprising, since I was there as often as I could find any sort of excuse to go. Charles Westcott, one of the rangers, trusted me when I told him what birds I had seen, and my name often appeared on the chart of recent migrants. There a few other birders who were there every Saturday morning, and I got to know them by name.
It seemed Saturday mornings were reserved for birders. On most other days, the trails would be crowded with school field trips, couples making out, and families with screaming kids. Sundays were the worst, and it wasn’t long before I quit going on Sundays altogether. But on Saturday mornings, the serious birders would show up. I kept quiet most of the time about what I saw. People who recognized me would stop me on the trails and ask. I would answer confidently (and I was careful and confident most of the time), and they never knew that I was seeing many of these birds for the first time ever. There was even a time or two when I actually pointed out birds to others when I was adding the bird to my life list as I spoke. I got a big kick out of doing this. Many of these people were conceited about their knowledge and ability to spot and identify birds. I was able to talk with them because of the time I spent studying field guides. They accepted me as a peer when I was really a rookie.