A move to the US brought with it certain expectations of the kind of lifestyle we would be living here. In particular we fantasized about space. We were rapidly outgrowing our small two bedroom apartment in inner-city Melbourne and picturing ourselves sprawling about in a huge American house, with a basement, a garage, plenty of room for a deep freezer and a king size bed. While we did end up in a beautiful home that far exceeded our expectations in terms of aesthetics, we didn’t end up with the space we thought we would have. We are happy things turned out this way rather than the other way around and only occasionally visit people in McMansions and wish we had a bit more room.
We did, however end up with the largest flat screen of anyone we know. This may sound a bit confusing for those of you who know we don’t have television. We don’t in the conventional sense. We have forgone cable and all of the delightful entertainment it might have brought us. Instead, we have bird TV, which consists of an enormous picture window overlooking the river and all of the birdlife of the area.
Bird TV started as and indoor and outdoor activity last summer. We have a very large picture window in the front of the house that looks out on the river. This is our bird TV for the most part, but we are also constantly glancing out all of the windows and glass doors of the house – stealing a glimpse at the river as we go about our business; checking to see if there is something we should stop to take a better look at and maybe even call the whole family to come and see.
We are lucky enough to have an Osprey nest very close to our house. All summer long we watched the couple, first just fishing and wrangling their catches into the nest. Then we started guessing about whether they had already laid their eggs and when they might hatch. This was followed by persistent binocular observations, searching for a sign of any chicks until one day Bradley exclaimed, “I see a head!”. Towards the end of the summer we had the pleasure of watching the two chicks fledge and learn to fish. The osprey were a constant source of entertainment all summer long and we were sad when they left for Florida.
This didn’t last long however, because we were soon cheered by the arrival of Arctic birds who spend their winters here on the Chesapeake Bay. First came the bufflehead ducks and they cheered us up straight away. They are the smallest duck in North America. We never tire of watching the little flock of them enthusiastically dive and then bob to the surface again.
Soon after the buffleheads arrived, a flock of about 200 hundred Canada geese moved in to our area. They spend their time on the river in front of our house and on the field behind it. Vivien would like very much to catch and eat one, but has only been disappointed by the results of her efforts so far. We on the other hand, have been thoroughly entertained by the sight of a little two year old fearlessly sprinting across a field at a flock of 200 geese who seem confused at first. It soon becomes clear to them that they are in eminent danger and they take to the sky to the dismay of poor Vivien.
We have also been visited by some Whistling Swans from the artic and the occasional bald eagle, not to mention all of the beautiful songbirds and woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeder.
Yes, bird TV keeps us entertained for hours and we find ourselves sometimes excitedly and at other times quietly watching, right up to the last minute of the day.