Sunday, May 10, 2009

What I saw in the last three days

Scarlet tanager graces several groups of quiet walkers with his velvet beauty



Kill site feathers in breeze



Kill site droppings



Box turtle retracts a foot

Two indigo buntings, both cloaked in rich blue, darted past me and landed in the hemlock. I whistled to Jared, and he arrived on the front porch, binoculars in hand. "Two male indigo buntings! On the fence!"

I have seen a bunting only once before -- at a tangled clearing in the middle of the Sourlands forest. I heard a song repeated again and again. I searched the branches -- I had to find the singer. I finally did. He was perched not that far away, conspicuously atop a dogwood.

Sometimes things come easily, in a rush. The past several days were a bit like that. I had instinct on my side, not mine, but the instinct of the creatures that all around me.

It went something like this: The bluebird said, I am a cavity nester. Let me explore every cavity I find. This is easy to do around my house. Many sassafras and tulip snags are filled with woodpecker holes. A kestral box is mounted on the telephone pole. Two nesting boxes line opposite sides of the yard. One was claimed early on by a cacophonous house wren. Recalling previous year's early morning house wren wake up calls, I made 3 gourd bird houses and hung them further from the house.

The bluebird pair made the rounds -- last year's box, kestral box, even the stubborn house wren's box. The chickadees check out the boxes and one of the gourds. The wren is intent on filling all houses with stick piles.

Meanwhile, the phoebe (who has already been observed posting the nest wite of previous years, atop the stoplight) zooms by. A black-throated blue warbler foraged the lower branches of the hemlock. I heard wheezy calls come from the pin oak. Couldn't quite place it, and the sound, like many unrecognizable bird songs, received only part of my attention. Two turkey vultures cruised in low. Thwack, thwack, thump, one landed on the black walnut. The other landed on the fence post and fanned her wings for the sun. I walked down the path for a better view, and --wheeze, wheeze-- cedar waxwings! Two catbirds, one with nesting material, joined the black throated blue in the hemlock. Baltimore oriole, goldfinch in the elm.

And that's only some of what I saw...


Wood thrush sits on her eggs, her mate silently watches the photographer from afar

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