Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday's Birds

Friday, October 27, 2006
Started yesterday (Thursday) off by taking the kiddos to meet the school bus at the end of our driveway. Hard frost again in the night and the meadow across our township road was heavy with the glistening, frozen blanket. The rolling meadow appeared to my eyes like a deep, dark lake, its surface rippling with gentle waves.

Facing back to the West, my camera caught my shadow unawares.

And just as I clicked the shutter, an adult red-shouldered hawk shrugged off the morning chill and took silent flight across a seamless blue sky.

I spent much of the morning writing on a book project and was deep in thought when I heard a scuffling sound at the sliding-glass door next to me. It was one of our brazen wren neighbors (of the Carolina persuasion) and he/she was billing through the dead leaves caught between the screen and glass doors. Seconds later the bird emerged with a spider as big as its head. The arachnid was firmly clenched in the wren's bill, yet it still seemed determined not to be eaten. A few quick whacks against the pavement and the spider gave up the ghost. The wren looked at me and I gave it the thumbs up. It gave that rusty pinwheel call and flitted off, belly full.

Later in the day I drove in to the BWD offices, where most of the staff still remember my name (it's not like Norm walking into Cheers.) After a cluster of meetings and some copy-editing, I realized I was the last one in the office. Must be time to go home! So I headed out into the rain and decided to drive the scenic route.

Motoring along the ridgetop I was listening to an NPR story about the plans being made and drills being held for a potential flu pandemic. It's expected that the world might suffer another pandemic like the one that killed millions in 1918. I thought about where we live, far from town and neighbors--small satisfaction. And I thought of my friends and family who live in town, in cities, in apartment buildings. Dark thoughts to be sure. But as has happened so many times, the birds came to my rescue--to change my mental channel--sort of.

Rounding a hill along Pleasant Ridge, I came upon a flock of large dark birds sitting hunch-shouldered in a pasture. Turkey vultures--and a lot of them. They were gathering around a rain-soaked deer carcass--probably a roadkill. I stopped and several vultures powered their way up into a nearby tree, and then I began to count. There were dozens of vultures all around roosting in the trees. I could see and count at least 65. What an amazing sight! And so close to Hallloween!

Hoping this was not a sign of things to come, I snapped a few quick digital frames in the dying light, and sped the rest of the way home.


On October 28, 2006 at 11:17 PM Susan Gets Native said...

65 turkey vultures ?
Seeing them so close to Halloween would definitely frost MY shorts.

On October 29, 2006 at 7:50 AM Anonymous said...

Thanks for a look into a day in the life of BT.

Have been reading Wild America -- are the Thompson's mentioned in the forward of your family? A great legacy of birders if so.

Wayne, PA