As the roots of this Damndemic (as my friend Al Jardine calls it) spread deeper and deeper into our psyche, people are searching for ways to break up monotony and provide alternative inspirations. To this end our grandchildren came up with the idea of moving into our house to attend ‘Boarding School’. We had a delightful few days of spending time with them and going on field trips. On one such outing we had to stop at the liquor store for a curb-side pickup and met our friend Hugh as he was entering the store. Such impeccable timing necessitated a full explanation and justification of taking grandchildren on a field trip to collect booze. And – NO – a Cannabis shop was not our next stop.
If you are of an age where you wonder if cataracts and dehydrating vitreous humor are laughing at your ability to discern detail with your eyes and your ear drums are no longer sending decipherable signals to the hearing center in your brain I can recommend one sure way to confirm your suspicions of impending frailty. Try going birding with a 10 year old.
The most memorable field trip during our ‘Boarding School’ time was a trip to a local park here in Saskatoon. Hamish and I headed out with binoculars a camera and the e-bird app to find and record all the bird species we could identify and look for other interesting exploits of mother nature. The refrain – “Look Grampa, what is that bird over there” – or – “What bird makes that sound?” helped a great deal to increase our total number of sightings. Perhaps the most exciting moment was when Hamish heard something in the bush beside the trail. The rustle, undetectable to me, even with hearing aids, turned out to be a beautiful Garter snake. Hamish was determined to get a picture so he laid down with the camera and slowly moved in closer to the snake. It was most cooperative and came within 8 -10 inches to pose for the photo opp.
After our heart rates returned to normal we moved down the trail and Hamish spotted a Red-necked Grebe with something in its mouth. After processing the image we determined the grebe was eating a Tiger Salamander ( a male as you can see). As you can imagine the whole trip was quite a success for both of us.
We also captured images of a few other ducks as well.