Date: 5/6/18 3:38 pm
From: Tait, Mag <mtait...>
Subject: Re: [birders] Metro Beach Before Birding Was Cool
Thanks for sharing! I always enjoy your perspective.

Sent from my iPhone

On May 6, 2018, at 5:01 PM, Alan Ryff <alryff...><mailto:<alryff...>> wrote:

Excuse my usage of Metro Beach in this communication. For those who have been birding before birding was cool, Metro Beach rolls off the tongue with greater affection than Lake Saint Clair Metropark. My first visit to Metro was in 1960. In that year I was ready to expand beyond Saint Clair Shores with its remnant patches of wet woods and seasonally flooded fields. 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 fresh bullet wound in the upper arm.)

In those days Metro didn't have much of a nature trail, just a short loop for the most part through what was then Cottonwood saplings 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 mudflats where more than once I temporarily lost my shoes. And all of this was done without the distraction of 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 bird watcher at Metro. Rather, birding was a learning curve. Birding wasn't the big bucks of today: cheap binouclars that barely functioned by today's standards, a pocket-sized notebook 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-winged Teals, Common Gallinules, Soras, Virgina and King Rails, all of these with their broods; Black Terns nesting on floating boards, Marsh Wren nests, and an unprotected colony of Common Terns at what is now Huron Point. (Eventually a miniature train track for the public's pleasure was allowed to replace the terns.) As long as the grass wasn't cut in the wide expanse along the south marsh, the Upland Sandpipers stayed. The results: muddy shoes, wet jeans, an over-sized plaid shirt covered with bugs and the smell of dripping muck. Think of those poor souls in their clean cars kind enough to give me a ride back to Saint Clair Shores.


Going green, protecting the environment and its wildlife--forget it. There were more significant things of cultural and 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 curly waterfall complete with a DA.

Thus I of no social standing wandered alone through Metro Beach's watery wilderness--mastering bird identification, before birding was cool.
Alan
Saint Clair Shores

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