Sunday, August 13, 2017

Watching waders and waterfowl

Late last week we started to observe egrets in the marshes near County Road 36 in Carlos Avery WMA. All Summer, until then, we've seen nary a one. Now there were Three on the south side of the road and one on the North. We doubt they were cattle egrets but aren't sure they weren't snowy egrets instead of great egrets. The information available here will help with identification when we stop back with a camera in hand.

great blue heron "fishing" a Sunrise River pool
great blue heron "fishing" a Sunrise River pool
Photo by J. Harrington

The egrets were feeding in an area where, in past years, we often have seen great blue herons or families of geese. So far this Summer, neither has been in evidence when we've driven past. It's not clear if something has basically changed in the area, other than the new bridge and guard rails, to make it less attractive to waders and waterfowl, or if it's just that last Summer's all Summer construction activity drove off the birds and they're slowly starting to drift back.

Window Seat: Providence to New York City


My sixteenth
egret from
the window
of this train,
white against
the marshes’
shocking green
cushioning
Long Island
Sound from
Kingston down
to Mystic against
the shoreline’s
erratic discipline:
the egret so
completely
still, the colors
so extreme,
the window
of my train
might be rolling
out a scroll
of meticulous
ancient Chinese
painting: my heart-
beat down its side
in liquid characters:
no tenses, no
conjunctions, just
emphatic strokes
on paper from
the inner bark
of sandalwood:
egret, marshes,
the number
sixteen: white
and that essential
shocking green
perhaps even
the character
for kingfisher
green balanced
with jade white
in ancient poems—
every other element
implicit in the
brush strokes’
elliptic fusion
of calm and motion,
assuring as my
train moves on
and marsh gives way
to warehouses
and idle factories
that my sixteen
egrets still remain:
each a crescent
moon against
an emerald sky,
alabaster on
kingfisher green,
its body motionless
on one lithe leg,
cradling its
surreptitious
wings


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