Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Snow squalls, flurries, flocks and swan songs

When I was growing up on the east coast, I learned the adage "red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky in morning, sailors take warning." The photo shows this morning's sun rise. (Lots Some of the red in it washed out saving the photo for the blog.)

red sky in morning
red sky in morning
Photo by J. Harrington

Two or three hours later, there were snow squalls that put the local flocks of birds into a panic. They all decided they needed to chow down in case Winter was really returning. Chickadees were the first to arrive. Then other flocks flocked to the food troughs. The finch family was represented by the gold and purple clans. Mrs. Cardinal was there with no sign of hubby.

birds of a feather, and others, at the feeders
birds of a feather, and others, at the feeders
Photo by J. Harrington

Although outnumbered by the birds, the local squirrel populations, both red and gray, threw their weight around and chased the feathered lightweights away, until the local sheriff, who is also the feeder filler, ran the "bad guys" out of town. As soon as the squirrels were out of sight, the chickadees ventured back, which signaled an all clear for the others to join them.

red squirrel on its way to the feeders
red squirrel on its way to the feeders
Photo by J. Harrington

This morning's feeding frenzy was fun to watch, but yesterday's bird watching was even better. Just north of Stillwater, about where Brown's Creek enters the river, there's usually some open water. In the past I've often seen Canada geese and mallard ducks loafing on the ice next to the water. Yesterday there were neither ducks nor geese. In their place was a small flock of 8 to 10 trumpeter swans. For years I've heard rumors and read reports of swans wintering along the St. Croix. Yesterday I actually saw some. I was by myself and couldn't find a place to safely stash the car so no photos, this time. I'll keep trying.

Small Study

Sparrows swiveling the feeder
so the seed whorls
so the dove can come from its fix
in the waver of cedars.
Some one makes a husk note
that a pair can flare into as if 
built from that scutch
of the undergrowth—
roughening birds, birds skimming into 
slits they fit into in trees between 
loads of the branches—
through paths
through encampment
go dozens who work the steep yews
combing the motes of the dove or
milling its ground, shifting its bandings
of gray and mole gray, taupe and slate gray
beginning to scuff
into lozenges, drab and saxe blue—
one of them nicking
the field where there’s tilt
off center
flocked in the shreds of new balsam
or come from the rendering
junctions or sorts through the deal—
afterward seamed in the fledge—
coal and flush gray, fuse and rush wove or
let go

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Please be kind to each other while you can.