Sunday, September 11, 2016

Early migrants? #phenology

Nature seems to have been engaging in some prestidigitation the past few days. While some of us have been focused on the hummingbirds, which are still in evidence, that she held in her left hand, with her right hand she seems to have hurled South a large number of this year's flock of new goldfinches.

Summer hummingbird
Summer hummingbird
Photo by J. Harrington

The supply of black oil sunflower seeds has been lasting longer this past week than it had in mid-August. That was a clue something had changed. This morning, for the longest time, all I saw at the feeder were chickadees. We usually have goldfinch around all Winter, so I just assumed over the past few days they'd arrived, fed and left when I wasn't looking. The longer I watched, the more questionable I found that hypothesis.

Winter goldfinch
Winter goldfinch
Photo by J. Harrington

Mid day, finally, a pair of goldfinch showed up. Both were drab olive females. No bright gold males were anywhere to be seen. I've read that some goldfinch migrate toward less frigid climes for Winter and think that may be what happened this past week. We'll see.

In Harvest


By Sophie Jewett


Mown meadows skirt the standing wheat;
I linger, for the hay is sweet,
New-cut and curing in the sun.
Like furrows, straight, the windrows run,
Fallen, gallant ranks that tossed and bent
When, yesterday, the west wind went
A-rioting through grass and grain.
To-day no least breath stirs the plain;
Only the hot air, quivering, yields
Illusive motion to the fields
Where not the slenderest tassel swings.
Across the wheat flash sky-blue wings;
A goldfinch dangles from a tall,
Full-flowered yellow mullein; all
The world seems turning blue and gold.
Unstartled, since, even from of old,
Beauty has brought keen sense of her,
I feel the withering grasses stir;
Along the edges of the wheat,
I hear the rustle of her feet:
And yet I know the whole sea lies,
And half the earth, between our eyes.


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