A Snow Goose adventure

I recently went on an outing of the Snow Goose Festival. I’d never been birding before, and now I wonder why I waited so long. I liked it, especially having someone nearby who could see what looked to me like a moving line in the sky a quarter mile away and call it a Turkey Vulture.

We started at the Llano Seco Unit of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a few miles southwest of Chico. I took notes, sometimes for accuracy and sometimes to record a thought. I love the birds. They’re neither religious nor political. They’re also beautiful, peaceful and very much themselves.

In four or so hours I saw American Coots, Snow Geese, Turkey Vultures, Black-crowned Night Herons, Greater White-fronted Geese, House Sparrows, Ross’s Geese, Canada Geese, Herring Gulls, American Widgeons, Gadwalls, Eurasian Widgeons, Mallards, Blue-winged Teals, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals, Ruddy Ducks, Red-tailed Hawks, Sandhill Cranes, Ring-billed Gulls, Snowy Egrets, Red-winged Blackbirds, Sandpipers, Bald Eagles, Redheads, and Northern Pintails, and, according to our guide, I heard a Great Horned Owl.

Before going out with the Snow Goose Festival, I’d’ve probably listed those bird names in lower case. After seeing them as far as I could tell living their lives to the fullest without a stitch, I think they deserve to be Capitalized at least as much as TV. If we capitalize Congress, we should capitalize Bufflehead. I’d seen birds before but not so many or so many different kinds. Like a city.

Most of the birds I saw were fairly close, partly because I was using a little binocular and partly because of the fog, which was ever-present and not conducive to birdwatching, trust me. We caravanned to each stop and ended up at the Sacramento Northern Wildlife Refuge, which evidently was really hopping a couple of months ago. It seems the timing of the Snow Goose Festival is at the behest of business interests determined to put the tourist market where they want it. If you just want to see a jillion birds at once, don’t wait until January in the fog.

Afterward, I lost my notes and searched through my pockets and retraced my tracks over and over and called myself names and fretted and stewed and gave up and e-mailed my editor, and stewed some more. And then my son asked me a good question to ask oneself at such times, namely, “What are you trading for your inner peace?” My son asked me that. Then I wrote this. I don’t need no stinking notes.