Perfect Moments: The Circling of the Birds

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When I was an undergraduate, I frequently hiked at a small nature preserve, Douglas Hart Nature Center, near where I lived. The trails were neither long, nor challenging, but the walks allowed me to relax and clear my head a bit. There was a small deck overlooking a pond roughly halfway along the looped trail, and it was a nice place to sit and de-stress for awhile. One autumn day after turning in a paper or taking an exam- I honestly can’t recall which- I headed to that exact spot for that very reason. I found something else entirely.

As I approached the pond I could hear a bizarre cacophony, overpowering every other sound. When I reached the pond I saw what was causing it; hundreds, maybe thousands, of birds were flying in a circle above the pond. Some were above the treeline, others were closer to the water, but all were circling counterclockwise, calling out into the slowly darkening sky.

I was taken aback. Never had I see  anything quite like that before. With the sound of the birds thundering in my ears, and the site of them circling around within my entire field of vision, other sensory input faded away. The hair on my arms and neck stood on end. I felt a cold chill run up and down my body while I simultaneously felt warm all over. The environment was suddenly otherworldly.

As I stood there, taking this all in, birds started diving around me, then swooping back up into the sky. I panicked for a moment; were they diving at me? Had I intruded upon something mysterious and private, for winged creatures only. My fear subsided as I looked out across the pond and realized that birds were swooping down and upward around the entire circumference of the pond. I wasn’t a target, merely an observer. And yet I felt like I was a part of what was happening around me. Slowly, I spread my stance, and raised my arms above my body. I lifted my face skyward and took in the whole of the mass circling above me.

I stood like that for a moment before lowering my arms, and backing away from the pond. Fewer birds were circling, more and more landing on branches as the sun sank lower in the sky. The cacophony dulled, slowly, as it grew darker. I turned and stepped back on the trail once more, as the sound slowly faded from my ears.

I’m well aware that there is likely a very rational explanation for this event, I’ve just never been interested in finding it. I’m not so arrogant to say that this moment was magical, but I can tell you that it surely felt magical. That’s enough for me.

It was also most fortuitous that despite the abundance of birds, I emerged from the clearing free from droppings.

Do you had any perfect moments here recently? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments, as I’d love to read about them. Until next time, stay intrepid.

“Perfect Moments” is a randomly recurring post that details some of the incredible moments I’ve experienced during my adventures, my travels, even just my everyday life. Hopefully they interest, inspire, or at least entertain for a minute or two.

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