Discovering Nature

Tag: serenity wood

October’s bright blue weather

This morning it was in the mid-twenties after the first serious frost. The beauty of the woods warranted quoting a line from this poem in my title. The only line I dispute is the one about “leaves sinking noiselessly.” They rattle ceaselessly, actually, making it sound like the woods are trying to flutter up and away en masse before the snow falls.

The yellow-rumped warblers were coming through, snatching bugs from leaves and branches.

I heard a whole flock of crows sounding the alarm about something, but aside from the warblers and a few chickadees, I didn’t see much.

I investigated a trail I haven’t walked in awhile and discovered it was almost impassable because of the uprooted trees, courtesy of a strong storm maybe a month ago. It was interesting to try to trace the path of one particularly large oak that had torn limbs off one tree and knocked over another on its way down. It lived a life of influence — and died the same way.

There’s a certain quality of brightness to the fall sunshine that I look forward to. I think of Wendell Berry’s line of poetry in “Clearing” about vision with “severity at its edge.” That’s what the light reminds me of this season — it makes things starker and reveals the contrasts.

I need the seasons.

 

Autumn state of mind

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!

See it in the log?

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.

June 23, 2012 Morning Sights

Red eft

Black-eyed Susan

Fern fairyland

Chestnut-sided warbler

Female yellow warbler?

Robin, nesting quietly

Robin fledgling in the same bush

Yellow warbler

Tree tunnel

Also seen: Eastern towhee, Baltimore oriole, house wrens, blue jays, oven birds, deer, chipmunks, common yellowthroats, rabbits, woodchucks, toads, pearl crescent and least skipper butterflies.

Heard: Deer, woodthrushes

 

Serenity Wood

I took a walk today in a favorite place called the Serenity Wood. It was very hot, and I saw many things as I explored woods and meadows: yellow-throats, house wrens, an eastern towhee, a Baltimore oriole. There were deer tracks, coyote tracks, and raccoon tracks in the mud. Robins and sparrows and yellow warblers and chestnut-sided warblers hopped among the leaves. And there were catbirds — always catbirds.

I heard a brown thrasher at one point, and later on I thought this bird, startled up out of the grass beside the trail, was a thrasher. But it was quiet, and it had a shorter tail. I think it was a wood thrush, nesting in the grass. I was delighted to make her acquaintance!

*Edited to add: I’m thinking it may be more likely that this is a hermit thrush, because of the striping on the throat. Very pleased to meet this beautiful songster!

This tiny pearl crescent butterfly was a welcome sight too. Exquisite.

Not everyone is so picturesque, of course. And though the woods were full of noise — squeaking chipmunks, an ovenbird, red-eyed vireos, rustling leaves — some were in a more quiet, meditative mood.

He owes me a smile for not stepping on him as he lay there in the middle of the trail. No gratitude. (It must be confessed: I like toads. As a child I would spend whole afternoons collecting them in coffee cans, then let them all go at the end of the day. I was certain they recognized me as their benefactress.)

I saw the fawn I had the close encounter with last week, too. It might have been a different one, but I prefer to think it’s the same one, developing on schedule. Unbeknownst to me, I was standing right next to it in the trail; it was in the long grass beside me. I didn’t realize it till I gave up on trying to take a picture of the towhee, and took a step. The little fawn thrashed to its feet and disappeared into the brush with a flick of its tail. I was glad… I want it to know enough to run from strange critters like humans.

It was a nice, leisurely walk — perfect outing for a Sunday afternoon.

Yellow-striped hunter

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