Larkwire and Other Non-Newsworthy Matters

Beloved Birders!

Back in May, my husband and I went to Long Point (aka: birdy heaven) and went on a great walk in Backus Woods with the ever-knowledgeable and all-round-fantastic Jody Allair, who recommended that I buy (and use) the Larkwire app up improve my birdsong-recognition skills (ie: to GAIN some song-recognition skills, but Jody is too kind to ever put it in those terms, but we’re among friends here, right? so why not be brutally honest).

Anyhow, fast-forward a few months. I’ve been spending about 10 minutes on Larkwire birdsong quizzes every day and though it drives my fabulous husband absolutely bonkers (I suppose I could do birdsong quizzes when he’s not at home, but that would obliterate about 98% of the fun). AND…yesterday morning I went out on my walk and recognized a NORTHERN FLICKER! a DOWNY WOODPECKER! and all the usual suspects. But that I could recognize these birds exclusively by song felt nothing short of miraculous. So…lots of work to be done still — there are, obviously other birds in Ontario apart from the 20 songs I seem to have “mastered” — but I feel like my neighborhood has grown richer (in my mind) from the experience of recognizing what it is I’m hearing.

Northern flicker. My favorite bird (today). It turns out I'm in good company because the flicker was Roger Tory Peterson's favorite bird as well. The ones we saw were rather feisty.

Northern flicker. Image from here. Hearing it almost beat seeing it. (OK, not quite; who am I kidding.)

QUICK NEWS FLASH: I just looked out my window and saw a person whose gait I distinctly recognized. I grabbed my binoculars and, sure enough, it was my almost-97-year-old grandmother walking up Yonge street, hatless, in the 42 degree Celsius heat, out for her mid-day constitutional stroll. Wow. Nuff said.

Addendum to the preceding paragraph: I don’t always use binoculars to look at people on the street from the eighth floor of my building. But sometimes I can’t resist.

I’ve also been consuming vast quantities of Ontario peaches. They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. No, actually they’re spill-all-over-you-and-make-a-mess-of-your-new-white-pants delicious. Full disclosure: I eat my peaches while standing at the kitchen sink.

And for those of you wondering: I still haven’t managed to learn the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight. It’s slow going. But I’m back at the Czerny and more than half-way through op.299. Humbling, slow-going, but also kind of fun in its constancy. I’m realizing that these studies will always be HARD, no matter how much I play them and work at them, but every day they’re a little less hard, a little more familiar, a little more — dare I say — pleasant. It’s kind of like learning bird songs. And writing, too.

And TA-DA! Out of the blue one day, you might just recognize the song of a Northern Flicker.

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