To add variety to the blog and to offer a fresh perspective from our visitors, we are inviting guest bloggers to write posts describing their visits and thoughts while at the reserve. The guest blog and photo today are brought to you by M.L. Christmas and her thoughts on birding. Enjoy! (Maggie Pletta, DNERR Education Coordinator & Blog Editor)
Every Bird a Star
Even a seasoned newbie birdwatcher—definition: still a newbie, but with traces of jadedness settling in around the edges—gets excited by the glimpse of a new celebrity once in a while. That is why, if one is customarily a backyard birdwatcher, or an around-town birdwatcher, venturing into an unaccustomed setting can make all the difference and result in some new species being marked on one’s Life List.
On her very first visit to the St. Jones Reserve, back in 2009, an unfamiliar call from a tall, spare tree near the boardwalk drew her attention. Even without binoculars she could see the wren-shaped singer of the unusual song and made a mental note of its coloration. Upon returning home, cross-checks of The Sibley Guide to Birds and Birds of Delaware revealed the performer was none other than a Marsh Wren (or Cistothorus palustris, if you want to get technical about it).
She recently mentioned the encounter to DNERR’s new Education Coordinator, Maggie Pletta, who confirmed their presence at the St. Jones Reserve. “You can see them all over the marsh, in the taller grasses, straddling the air, with each leg on a separate piece of grass. And man, even if you don’t see them, you will hear them. They love to yell at you and let you know they are there and mean business if you come near their nest. They are one of my favorite birds because they are so sassy!”
This writer has strolled past that spot at the St. Jones Reserve three or four times since then, and each time she had the thought: “There’s that tree where I saw and heard the Marsh Wren!”
As fame and glamor and musical glory go, it’s not exactly red-carpet-at-the-Grammys, but that Marsh Wren singing its heart out, in a bare tree on the edge of the marshes, still gained one loyal fan–and a Life List check-mark for posterity.
M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She has written dozens of articles for newsletters, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Her work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications and other venues, and she has written in tones ranging from scholarly to humorous, depending on the audience. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women. Her approach to nature writing, she says, is part Henry David Thoreau and part Dave Barry.