Date: 5/2/20 5:34 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] May 2, 2020: Thetford Center
5:23 a.m. 41 degrees. Clear, horizon to horizon. The summit of Mount
Ascutney a faroff smudge, forty miles south of my front yard, like a patch
of ascending ground fog. I only see Ascutney on days of low humidity.
Aftermath of yesterday's storm front: dozens of slugs cross the road; water
flows everywhere, in and out of traditional channels; the sound of a
grouse, a blurr of wings; turkeys in the lower pasture; woodpeckers out and
about, drumming.

A male red-bellied woodpecker calling and drumming in the pines along the
road, very likely to no avail. He visted the suet all winter; the only
prolonged visiting red-bellied I've had twenty-three years. Never hosted a
female . . . ever. Sooner or later—like the first female Florida
panther that finally crossed the Caloosahatchee River, after more than
twenty years—a *lady* red-bellied will disperse up the valley and be drawn
to this male as he drums *from Desolation Row*.

A coyote chased a deer up the road for a quarter mile, an unresolved
encounter. Mammalian penmanship. Both ran at full tilt, hitting the ground
with enough force to leave shallow prints; the deer's hooves splayed wide
open, "V" shaped. Even the dew claws left marks. Clusters of four
footprints every five or so feet, both deer and coyote temporarily airborn.
Flying down the road at 30 miles per hour (or more). Exceeding the speed
limit. Desperation for doe, ladden with fawn. Desperation for coyote, four
or five hungry pups to feed. Excitment for dogs, which tugged their
leashes, overcome with enthusiasm.

Male mallard cruises main passage in the wetland. Where are the hooded
mergansers? Female on eggs? I hope.

Back home, I open the barn doors to welcome little brown bats (*Myotis
lucifugus*), which, for years, have roosted between the door and the wall;
albeit lately in much-reduced numbers.
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