פברואר 24, 2019

Finley National Wildlife Refuge OR

I birded Finley Road through the waning of a silver afternoon. At the deck the bean goose was next to a snow goose and several duskies and I swear that the bill glow spot had a hidden battery brightening to fluorescent orange. Two tree swallows took a quick survey loop of the prairie and moved on. The usual spots of rough-legged balls in the trees have diminished in number but I did manage to find one so far to the south it could be in Monroe in 2 minutes. A greater scaup was in the small pond adjacent to the venerable oaks that shelter the road just west of the Bently overlook.

My last stop was at the pond in front of the HQ. Rain spotted my optics and a tele call distracted my focus. Long call ended, it was dusky when I turned the key and realized I had sat with the lights on for too long. Swirls of rain reached under the hood as I tried my jumpstart device which turned out to be worthless. Light was slipping down and following the rain into the ditches. I called AAA and after all the recorded menu/ads I got as far as telling the operator that I had a battery issue and the phone died. The rain got serious. I figured that some late-to-leave birder or passing local would be by soon enough. The night was in full bloom when I decided I better get to Bellfountain Road to try and catch a passing vehicle. I did consider the HQ but it was very quiet and I had not seen any activity at all during the hours had it in view.

The first driver's reaction to me on the dark stretch of road, waving both arms, was a stutter in speed then a definite acceleration as they passed. A great horned owl telegraph passed word of my failure - I could discern at least 2 birds from very distant and separate locations. The tundra swans could also be heard when the downpour momentarily relented. I had seen and heard trumpeters (7) on Cabell earlier but they were not audible in the long dark. Folks in the second vehicle were not interested in jumping my battery (I carry cables) but they did stop and did let me use their phone. AAA gave me the old-within-an-hour guess and I tried to dry the phone somewhat before handing it back but I was so wet I made it worse. Very hearty thanks were given and I was soon on my way back to my rig through the stygian oaks. The roadside ditches enhanced my ability to navigate blind because when I got off course I could tell by the rushing chatter I needed to change course.

Driving through angry rain, wipers frantic to keep up, the heater blasting, I towel off the windows to see. The road surface swimming, speed had to be watched to avoid hydroplaning.

What a night.

Posted on פברואר 24, 2019 06:21 אחה"צ by howard7 howard7 | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

ספטמבר 07, 2018

Fires of Autumn

Each step carries me deeper into the lilting light. Webs festoon the trees and glint off the grasses. It is a noisy walk with each step crackling and insects frantically zipping about. They are pushed by an awareness of the cool damp of the morn replaced with the heat of the autumn afternoon. Butterflies are determined and flap with vigor and resolve. Birds are moving, gathering, and leaving. I long to hit the road with them, to be free.

The pathways all seem in dreamstate with hazy pastels tumbled together like spilled paints. The long summer is winding down and a melancholy reaches across the landscape. The sun picks out yellows of the senescent vegetation and short winds flip up small dust devils. The sky is metallic at the edges and grows into a light cerulean cap above.

The aching sadness of September light reminds me of watching a child grow. They are both so perfect each moment.

Posted on ספטמבר 07, 2018 10:11 אחה"צ by howard7 howard7 | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה

מרץ 19, 2018

Safari on Muddy Creek mid-May

Fat clouds spewed a few big wet ones then quit, dropped as if made of pewter, and underwent a reformation that filled the air with lacy mist. Swallows seemed to be enjoying the moist as they adjusted altitude to just above the waist-high forb forest. Which was loaded with odonates waiting patiently for the great orb to tear loose and stoke their inner fire. But I disturbed them as I broke trail through the wetland lush and inadvertently became the swallows' beater. Striped meadowhawks (mostly) flew up out the veg and as they leveled off SNAP they were gone. Tree swallows, plus cliff, with a few barn thrown in, swooped directly in front of me and did not miss as they circled and dropped like dive bombers out of their cloud of doom.

I was stalking big game (at least in the birding world) as there was a dowitcher hanging at the edge of open water that I had been playing with for the last week and today put it down as a long-billed. Which is somewhat comical because the visit before last I had heard it talk and it was definitely a short-billed. The old switcheroo.

I moved into the forest of twisted-branch fresh-leaved oaks that line the creek; the sound of the wind dropped and was replaced with white-breasted nuthatch and pacific-slope flycatcher laying down a lonesome soundtrack. Not quite a gallery forest - more of a dark, lichen festooned haunted forest. Western wood peewee called across openings in the canopy and swifts joined the swallows at the top of the canopy where an emerging hatch of protein was available. I detected an anomaly and took a pic to confirm that there was a hatchling olive-sided flycatcher out on a bare limb doing plumage maintenance – early youngun.

Tanagers and thrush thriped and whitted while brilliant chunks of lemon goldfinch worked the edge. On moving back out under the sky and through the jungle of delicate eleocharis I stumbled on 2 families of Canada Goose with 5 and 6, respectively, downy young – sticking together and the adults doing the goose rendition of flattened fowl - they moved slow and quiet into sparse cover and willed me not to see them.

On the Serengeti portion (the prairie upland) I heard something that brought me to a full stop. It took some stalking and listening and more stalking and then the wind borne edge of perception brought me a strong snatch of the legendary and highly valued (at least by me) insect song of the grasshopper sparrow.

Posted on מרץ 19, 2018 08:05 אחה"צ by howard7 howard7 | 2 תצפיות | 0 תגובות | הוספת תגובה