The woods are so much quieter now than they were in the spring and early summer that it’s easy to lose the sense of expectation. But it’s a good exercise in faith to remain attentive; invariably we are rewarded with wonders large and small.
It was a little eerie on a recent walk in Ithaca. My husband and daughters and I were coming to the end of a stroll on an overcast day when our paths intersected with some characteristically cheerful sounding chickadees. My daughter, the bird-whisperer, sounded her chickadee call to attract them, and it seemed they were responding with more and more vocalization. Then we rounded a corner and saw the silent silhouette of a hawk.
No doubt the chickadees were sounding the alarm. It may have been the redtail that haunts Sapsucker Woods, but it seemed a little small for a redtail. My guess is it was a broadwing. It clutched a chipmunk in its talons.
How typical of us humans to think that we were controlling the scene, when all along a life and death drama that had nothing to do with us was playing itself out.
Another hawk has been making unwelcome appearances in our area: a Cooper’s hawk. Our feeder is situated next to an evergreen so that the birds have cover, but I think this hawk is attracted by the busy chatter of the goldfinches and the two or three chipmunks who feed on the ground beneath. We haven’t seen it successfully catch anything yet, but here it is perched in the middle of the food court.
No wonder the chipmunks hide!
I’ve seen some tiny warblers in recent walks in the woods, but few have rewarded me with photo-ops. I did manage to get a shot of this one, tentatively identified as a Nashville warbler.
It was a treat to see this red-eyed vireo feeding with some chickadees, too. Vireos are so much more easy to hear than to see; they are so like the leaves themselves.
The white-throated sparrows are coming through on their way southward. We have four or five of them hanging around our yard this week, but this one was spotted in a nearby preserve.
Last but not least, the deer have been everywhere, and they have actually seemed to pose for me.