A few years ago my wife and I visited Florida for a couple of weeks during the winter and spent a wonderful day birding at the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. My wife is not a birder but is generally pretty patient about birding with me.
We were at the end of the day on Sanibel Island and were on our way out of the refuge when we came across a short walking trail. My wife was happy to sit in the car as I headed out to walk the trail to see what I could find.
It was a typical subtropical Florida habitat; moist with dense, luxurious vegetation and overhanging Spanish Moss. Almost as soon as I started along the boardwalk, I glanced down and there, no more than eighteen inches from my foot, was an Ovenbird. This delightful little warbler seemed entirely unconcerned about my presence and, in fact, seemed downright inquisitive. It cocked its head to one side and looked up at me. I stood still and looked back at the bird and, after a couple of minutes of enchantment, decided to move on.
As I continued along the boardwalk the Ovenbird moved along with me and when I stopped, it stopped as well and continued to look up at me.
Finally, it flew off but in those few minutes when we had walked along together, I felt that rare communion between man and bird and it really brought home to me the wonder of birding and the true reason we all do it. Forget the lists and the relentless search for new species. This was the real reason we go birdwatching.
It was one of those rare moments one never forgets, when one really feels part of the wonder of nature. I am only sorry that my wife had decided to wait in the car.
David M. Gascoigne, Unionville, Ontario, Canada