Spring Bird Migration Hike 2021

Tracking American Redstarts in the upland forest on May 15, 2021

Mary Poppins had a bird woman who drew birds in with feed. Cartoonist Gary Larson sketched a before-and-after of Screen 1) pigeons swooping in and leaving Screen 2) a pile of empty rags topped with a hat and a few tuppence.

The Quarry Farm has a bird woman named Deb. She doesn’t need no stinkin’ feed and l’m pretty sure she doesn’t deal in tuppence. She told me last week that she has plenty of patience and enough Advil to watch and wait for the birds to show themselves. As we stood on the curve of Cranberry Run, I asked her what bird was calling above. It was a Baltimore Oriole. I asked for another audio I.D. a couple of minutes later.

“It’s a Baltimore Oriole,” she replied without so much as a sigh. Apparently Deb has enough Advil to deal with hopeless birders like me, too.

Deb introduced The Quarry Farm to someone who speaks bird even better than she does. When David Smith tunes his ears to birdsong in the floodplain, a thrush becomes not just one thrush but both a Swainson’s Thrush and a Wood Thrush. All the yellowish bird shapes silhouetted against the sky become a variety of migrating warbler species.

Thanks to Deb and David, this year’s Spring bird hike checklist is whole lot longer than those of past years. They looked at their previous records and chose the 2021 date. This morning was clear, floodwaters from earlier in the week had shrunk to a couple of vernal pools, and 14 birders walked the trails to record 44 species. Most of these birds are just passing through, but not before Deb could take their picture.

Virtuous reality, deliver us

I dig deep down to find my soul, or something to revive hope, some days.

There’s an election that lends itself to a soulless outlook, and the loss of a young primate, totally out of place in his life but unsuited to a natural existence–one with an unpromising future anyway. Lots of fingers are pointing.

There’s a disconnect. We, the human sort of we, are a lonely species. Every other living thing of which we are aware speaks the language. They know who is in and out there as well as what each other is saying, even if it’s, “Mine; go away.”

I sat in the dark last night, drank my tea and pointed an angry emotional finger at all the people out there who, in my opinion, are wrong. There was lots of screaming and name calling. Finally, there was a whole lot of sad.

Then I heard a bizarre puffy sort of clicking whine (that’t the best I can do to describe it) to the west outside. With no moon through the windows, it took a bit to find my way to the front door where I could see three dark shapes near the fence line. Something had the attention of the bronze turkeys. Since the donkeys weren’t sounding the alarm and no two-leggers, in cars or on foot, were in sight, I went back to the dregs of my tea, nearer to sleep because of the distraction.IMG_1275

This morning, Humperdink, Inigo and Miracle Max still stride up and down the barrier, feathers puffed and air bladders booming. The geese are there, too. Bob grazes nearby, his dulled tusks not quite reaching the ground. Outside, her long neck poking up from a lavender patch, stands a hen turkey. She sees me, ducks back under the comfrey, lavender, sorrel and whatever else we’ve sandwiched in over the years.IMG_1366IMG_1361

June blooms around the cabin, spring pinks become intense oranges and burgundies. Still pink, yet befitting summer with their Rubenesque excess, peonies.

Below in the floodplain, blues flag the quarry, cricket frogs creak, catbirds mew. A raccoon washes, reaches under the duckweed for larvae, small fry and crayfish.


The sad’s not gone. Because I am human and caught up in our human insular world, there will always be some sort of turmoil spinning around inside. Thankfully, a peace is just outside, my soul a little further up the path.