“Slow and steady wins the race,” I rehearsed to myself for the who-knows-how-many-eth time as I inched my way around the splendid oak. With my chin to the horizon I searched determinedly, hoping to catch sight of the olive-colored bird. He seemed to be taking great pleasure in squawking as loudly and as often as he desired and still remaining mysteriously hidden within the thinning foliage of the majestic oak.
The verdure of the stately oak had begun to fade from a rich green to pale yellow. The changing leaves were the reason Mr. Squawk remained so camouflaged, and it was the acorns that made this oak a favorable place.
I wanted to see this bird! Small clues to his position came from here and there as a random squawk or an acorn shell came hurtling my direction.
There it was—a beautiful Rose-ringed Parakeet! Just as I raised my camera, a startling nip on my foot just above my flip flop strap suggested that my presence 200 yards/meters from the pond was unwanted by the Mallard. He pestered me till I left for a time; then slowly I made my way back to the tree. Once again, relying on hints, I found the parakeet, just as beautiful as before, and finally got my photos.
The 110° F (43° C) weather here in Gaziantep, Turkey, did little to deter me as I trailed around the edge of the pond. The lily pads waved at me as a slight breeze swept through. Quick movements and sudden splashes alerted me to the painted turtles lurking about me. I eased my way carefully along, scanning. In the palm of a lily pad, I spied a baby painted turtle. Stepping closer, I placed my camera and pressed the shutter.
Just beyond me, a dragonfly posed on the tip of some marsh grass, its deep maroon contrasting perfectly with the blue of the pond and the intense green of the surrounding plants. A bass popped bugs off the water’s surface and from the edges of floating leaves—this was serene.
I sauntered slowly along until I reached my seat. Watch and listen, watch and listen—I scanned my surroundings.
There! A White-spectacled Bulbul dropped gracefully to a bush nearby. His “pwitch-pwitch bli-bli-bli-bli” told of his satisfaction as he snacked on the remaining berries from the mostly stripped shrub. I crept closer to get a better look and to add to my fast-growing photo collection.
A Blue Rock Thrush bounced several feet in front of me, plucking worms and beetles from the ground. A beautiful swallowtail floated down to a bed of petunias, and a Hooded Crow, with a piece of garbage cocked jauntily in his beak, flew overhead.
Cool evening breezes were blowing and gorgeous rays of sun peeked through the trees and warmed my face. I mounted my bike and pedaled for home.