I Brake for Birds

Hey, I dove for that fish as well

After a nice two hours of birding at North Branch Nature Center with a nice selection of warblers and the usual suspects, and intermittent showers, I drove downtown to get the paper.  There’s a small stretch of the North Branch of the Winooski right in Montpelier that I normally eyeball as I drive by.  There’s a little pocket park and once in a while, something is on the water.
Today I was driving with the windows up and heater going to thaw out a bit and thought, as I passed, that something was moving on the creek.  I slammed on the brakes (no one fortunately was behind – it is a major highway out of the city) and backed up 100 yards and quietly got out and peered through the roadside bushes.

Six Common Mergansers were cruising across the small stream, and making lots of splashing as they dove and fished.  I hustled back to the car and got my camera and caught them fishing and cruising.  Cars were streaming by on busy Elm Street but they were not bothered and I watched them motor back and forth, preening, stretching, and just screwing around.  It was one of those instant birding situations that makes you glad you have binoculars and camera at the ready — but also makes me wonder how many such opportunities I miss by keeping my eyes on the road.  Well, most of the time.  A pilot needs to maintain a good scan pattern.

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