Date: 5/6/18 2:01 pm From: Alan Ryff <alryff...> Subject: [birders] Metro Beach Before Birding Was Cool
Excuse my usage of Metro Beach in this communication. For those who have been birding beforebirding was cool, Metro Beach rolls off the tongue with greater affection than LakeSaint Clair Metropark. My first visit to Metro was in 1960. In that year I was ready to expand beyondSaint Clair Shores with its remnant patches of wet woods and seasonally floodedfields. I hitch-hiked up Jefferson from my neighborhood at 10 Mile Road. I was only 13. There was no talk of stranger danger. (Though once, a guy picked me up with a freshbullet wound in the upper arm.)
In those days Metro didn't have much of anature trail, just a short loop for the most part through what was then Cottonwoodsaplings and brushy patches of Sandbar Willow. The best way to get around was to wade through the cattails. Any risk added to the fun. I thought nothing of crossing truly deep mudflatswhere more than once I temporarily lost my shoes. And all of this was done without the distractionof smart phones and Ebird alerts.
Birding was not a lister's game. Who heard of lisitng? For a whole year or two I did not see a birdwatcher at Metro. Rather, birding was a learning curve. Birding wasn't the big bucksof today: cheap binouclars that barely functioned by today's standards, a pocket-sizednotebook stained with non water-resistant ink, and a Peterson tucked in an empty binoc-case. And what sights I had on those first visits: Blue-wingedTeals, Common Gallinules, Soras, Virgina and King Rails, all of these withtheir broods; Black Terns nesting on floating boards, Marsh Wren nests, and anunprotected colony of Common Terns at what is now Huron Point. (Eventually a miniature train track for thepublic's pleasure was allowed to replace the terns.) As longas the grass wasn't cut in the wide expanse along the south marsh, the Upland Sandpipers stayed. Theresults: muddy shoes, wet jeans, an over-sized plaid shirt covered with bugs and thesmell of dripping muck. Think of thosepoor souls in their clean cars kind enough to give me a ride back to SaintClair Shores.
Going green,protecting the environment and its wildlife--forget it. There were more significant things of culturaland social value in my working-class neighborhood--the top ten on the radio, sports, sports and more sports, baseball cards,wicked-looking shoes, Lucky Strikes and Camel packs, bubble gum, greasy hair with a curlywaterfall complete with a DA.
Thus Iof no social standing wandered alone through Metro Beach's watery wilderness--mastering birdidentification, before birding was cool.Alan