You folks knocked it out of the ballpark this time. It would have been easier to assign ten first place awards than to assign one grand prize, one first place, one second place, etc. What was I thinking when I made up the rules!? I should have just said there will be WINNERS! See what I mean?
“He appeared to want to make friends, but with one mighty peck, Mr. Goose sent him sailing through the air back into the water!”
“They suddenly leaped around, flapping their wings, bowing, picking up pieces of earth, weeds, cornstalks, and who-knows-what-else, tossing and flipping it in the air.”
“My ramblings ended, I strode to the end of the trail and gazed at the merry waters rippling over the shoals of stone and sand, joyfully fulfilling the purpose they were created for—to make it to the ocean in the least amount of time possible.”
“Well, look at that!” Grandma chuckled. A crayfish had crept slowly toward an unsuspecting mudpuppy, reached out a claw, and pinched its tail.”
“Quickly he scampered up, up, up, and I heard him nibbling away while pieces fell all around me. Slowly, slowly, I turned my head until I could observe him eight feet above me, holding a nut between his dainty paws.”
Spring Bird Migration
“As I searched the pine trees for any sign of the scissor-tailed bird, I saw something else flitting about like Grandma on apple butter day.”
“No longer able to hold my breath, I ran through the brush and toward my tree. Leaping up, I landed on a branch with two feet, holding on with one arm. Even in the late spring morning air, there were so many mosquitos that I had to get higher up to breathe more pleasantly!”
“The brook cheekily bashes the rocks and then runs away laughing, as water will.”
“This is usually a good place for a Belted Kingfisher, but I neither see his cocky self, nor hear the little chucklehead.”
“Picnics with birders are unique. One birder explored a trail, binocular in one hand and hotdog in the other.”
We spent hours/days working your submissions down to a manageable size. I’ll tell you what we did. We gathered up the mail, and we printed off submissions that came via e-mail/website, and we headed to the Shenandoah National Park. While we poked along the roads looking for fawns, for birds, and for bears, Bethany read your stories to us. We did this three different days, and we still didn’t have all your stories read. But, we did have some excitement while reading about your excitement.
The first morning, we spied a gobbler strutting for three hens. Also with the longbeard were two jakes. Twelve-year-old Adrian cut loose with a series of yelps, purrs, and clucks with just his voice—no calls in his mouth. The ole boy answered him back, stretched his neck up, and gobbled some more. We drove off laughing.
The next day as we drove along, Adrian exclaimed, “There’s a fawn lying right there—two little ears sticking up by that tree!”
It was just a few yards from the roadway. We were near the Big Meadows picnic area, so we turned into it and parked. We gathered our cameras and tripods and returned. There he lay behind the tree among the ferns. What fun.
Once we left and resumed traveling the road, I spied a doe and fawn in the woods. We pulled over at the next opportunity and walked back. The doe and fawn were gone, but as we returned to the vehicle, Cheryl spied another fawn curled in a ball just 4-5 feet (1.5 m) off the Skyline Drive.
On our next trip, Bethany spotted a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We pulled over in a parking lot and watched. It was joined by several more males and a female. This was special, as we were not aware any nested this close to our home. Apparently high on the mountain a few do.
The curious thing to us was that they always flew down into the same patch of grasses along the drive. We eased a bit closer, and what do you think we found? An ANT hill. They were eating the ants!
For the last week, we have continued reading your stories right here at home. We even did a bit of birding here today, though not while we were reading. First thing this morning, Bethany looked out the window and spied a Louisiana Waterthrush at our water garden.
One curiosity we had as we opened each letter was how long the bird list would be—is this going to be the long-list winner?
Simon Dueck from Lake Killarney, Nova Scotia, took the prize for the longest list. He recruited friends from as far away as Belize to help him. His list included 233 species.
So what do I do with this pile of stories? Of course some will get published. Lots of them should be, but we don’t have the space. Some are planned for upcoming issues…but I have an idea. Why not put these stories into one spiral-bound book (per contest) so you can read them too? I’ll call them “The Editor’s Stack WATER WORKSHOP 2022,” and “The Editor’s Stack SPRING BIRD MIGRATION 2022.” They can be a gift…
The books will have almost all the submissions that came to us. For one reason or another, a story or three may be missing. We will include some of the photography that came in as well.
The stories will be just as we received them with basically no edits. I will take out complete addresses and phone numbers and such.