Deep in the Heart of Durham

It was the perfect combination–a lot of sunshine, a little bit of free time, and a digital camera–when I set out for the Bird Viewing Shelter at the Duke Gardens Tuesday afternoon.  I took a meandering route–mostly because I have no sense of direction and I prefer wandering over stressing out about my deficiency.  I stumbled upon the Blomquist Pavilion, where I was serenaded by a bullfrog. (You can listen to his call here).  So intensely natural were the sounds and so richly dense were the trees and ground covering that I had to remind myself I was still well within the city limits of Durham, North Carolina.

Blomquist Pavilion in the distance. (Duke Gardens; Durham, NC)

Blomquist Pavilion in the distance. (Duke Gardens; Durham, NC)

I explored the pavilion and saw a sign that warned me to stay on the walkway.  Duly noted, I moved down the pavilion steps to the edge of the moss-covered pond and peered in.  I couldn’t see the bottom. I wondered how deep it was.  I wondered if the sign was for people like me who had wondered–with a bit more curiosity–the very same thing.

Blomquist Pavilion at Duke Gardens

Blomquist Pavilion at Duke Gardens

Staying on the path, I passed by the bullfrog’s hideaway in the pond brush and stepped across the water on a smattering of circular stones. I was the only soul around, but I felt as though I was being watched.  Mingled with the persistent rum-rum of the bullfrog were the occasional plops and gurgles of other critters who made their homes in the velvety-green, watery depths.

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Pretty stepping stones across the pond at the Blomquist Pavilion, (Duke Gardens).

I continued on.  Once at the Bird Viewing Shelter, I perched on a bench as birds, almost in a synchronized fashion, took turns swooping down to peck at the feeders before taking flight as their winged chums arrived to enjoy a few good nibbles as well.

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The Bird Viewing Shelter in the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants (Duke Gardens)

Here are some of the many birds that I saw:

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A male Cardinal and perhaps a couple of sparrows (or finches?) on the feeder below.

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A Brown Thrasher hides behind a pink bloom, a squirrel close on his tail feathers.

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Can you spot the Eastern Towhee in this picture?

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House finches, maybe?

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A male Cardinal cocks his head and challenges me to zoom in closer.  I will continue to work on that skill.

To my unexpected delight, a beautiful Blue Jay made a speedy flightpath to the feeders via the shelter’s circular window just above my head.  Unfortunately, he was particularly difficult to photograph.  I’ve read that Blue Jays are often falsely accused of being rascally, but I suspect there is some truth to the claim.  I will keep working on those Blue Jay shots and try to improve on my bird close-ups (and identifications!) overall.

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As is every visit to the Duke Gardens, it was a pleasant afternoon…and the time ‘flew’ by.  😉

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