Spring Diary: Chapter 6

May 18th

I now have spent some six weeks with my daily walks, and I have come to appreciate the slow unraveling of spring and feel attuned to the changing season.  I imagine that many people are only vaguely aware of the evolution, perhaps just subdividing spring into early and late.  But I have notice that the sound of the wind has changed from the light tapping of bare branches to the rustle of leaves; the progress of the owlets, who have now left their nest and are hidden in the willow tree by a veil of slivered leaves; of the pond that is slowly drying up and no longer beckons blue winged teals; the kinglets who are now mostly gone and the swarms of redstarts who have arrived.  But no matter how attuned or oblivious one might be to earth’s orbits, no one could miss the symbol of spring that I saw today.  A pair of Canada geese were gently shepherding their flock of 8 ducklings across the pond.

New Birds Seen

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Wood Pewee


May 20th

Again the woods and fields are quiet and I am not sure why.  But this time I spend the walk looking at the pattern of tree bark.  Several years ago I had taken a class on identifying trees in winter, i.e. without the distraction of leaves, the identification depends on the tree shape, branching pattern and buds, which may be hopelessly out of reach.    There is the thickly furrowed bark of the burr oak, looking like a comfortable pair of wide wale corduroys, the peeling bark of cherry trees and shagbark, which look like the flakes of sunburned skin, the diamond shaped pattern of ashes, which probably house some exquisitely adapted insects, and finally the cracked bark of the white oak, which quite frankly look like the pattern on my calloused feet.  Perhaps my weight and the weight of the tree have produced the same fault lines in their supporting structures.

May 25th

My brother in law is the contractor for our basement remodeling and sees me traipsing in and out with binoculars and bird books.  Bemused by this new phase of bird watching, he  likens it to some elaborate Easter egg hunt.  I don’t disagree with him.  I am reminded of the children’s magazine Highlights, which has been in every pediatrician’s and dentist’s office that I have been in for the past 40 years.  The best part of this magazine is the page of hidden pictures, where you try to identify the bunny rabbit in the pattern of the clouds, the baseball bat in the tree, or the old man in the bushes.  It was always a major disappointment if someone had already selfishly circled the hidden objects, ruining any sense of discovery.  Today I was in the unusual position of being more knowledgable than my birding companions.  I carefully did not gleefully point out birds or blurt out the identification and spoil the sense of discovery, and only offered assistance when asked. 

May 28th 

Well the bulk of the birds have passed through, and the birds that remain are busy with the task of mating and nesting and no longer see the need to sing loudly from an exposed perch.  My daily walks and diary entries have become sporadic.  In the evenings, and sometimes well into the night, I have become entranced with playing the on line word game Boggle.  This game consists of a 5 X 5 grid of letter cubes, and the task is to find as many words made from adjacent cubes as possible within a two minute period.  Another elaborate Easter egg hunt, and I find that I can go birdwatching here too.  Oddly enough the Boggle birds that I have found are mostly seabirds that I have never seen, but only know by name, i.e. murre, gannet, scaup, smew.  I even have a category of flightless Boggle birds that include dodo, moas, and rhea.  I would consider it a real feather in my cap if I could find the more challenging ostrich and penguin.  The game awards you a bonus point if you are the first to find a word, and I always score bonus points with my birds.    



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