I took a deep breath, shoved open the heavy door, and practically swam out into the muggy Michigan evening. Almost instantly, a House Sparrow fluttered by my face, its chirping a triumphant cackle to my ear.
Darn. I had been hoping for a somewhat more audacious beginning to my campus list.
Ah well. At least things were only going to get better. And they did! First, a robin, then a Downy Woodpecker...
College orientation. Supposedly, a time to meet people and learn about the transition into college. For me, it meant getting a head start on my campus list for Calvin College. What else is there to do other than bird when you arrive on campus a couple hours before orientation even begins?
I jaywalked across the East Beltline for the first time ever and plunged into Calvin's ecosystem preserve. Chipping cardinals and cackling catbirds greeted me as I entered the brushy fringe of the preserve. As I ventured deeper into the forest, I added new species to my campus list right and left: Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-eyed Vireo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird...
It would have been paradise except for the plentiful mosquitoes and deerflies. I swatted at them (I do not subscribe to the view that simply letting them suck alleviates the itching) as I strolled down the wood chip path, enjoying the evening serenade of wood-pewees and recognizing the familiar leaves of elms, beeches, and hickories. I was almost in a trance; it felt like those three years in California didn't exist and I had always resided in Michigan.
Whoops, eight forty-five! I was already late for the first orientation event. It's a good thing this is a birding blog--writing about orientation would take up way too much time!
The official campus list stands at thirty-five. Watch for updates beginning on August 30th!