Date: 6/10/20 6:49 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] June 10, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:10 a.m. 49 degrees, wind E 0 mph. Sky: awakening blue, lightly clouded, a suffusion of rose-colored wisps and tattered sheets that graded to mauve and silver as the sun joins in. The moon, three days bigger than half, glows until dissolving into daylight. Mosquitos light this morning. Mist over the wetland thin like breath, softening brown-green reeds and greener islands; the far shore, mostly spruce and fir, a dark green wall hung with gray-green braids of lichen where the parula builds her nest. Beyond the mist, pileated calls . . . five audibly vivid notes, then like a dream, done.
On the pond: hooded merganser hen and eight ducklings move away from the south shore. Cross through a shroud of mist, trailing their wakes behind them. Leaving lines of bubbles and a few hundred traumatized tadpoles. White-throated sparrow sulks in the alders. Adler flycatcher chases down slow-flying moths numbed by cold. Deer, dressed in red-brown summer attire, bolts across the road and vanishes in the reeds. Dogs notice; leashes taut.
Yesterday, mid-morning: I returned to the goshawk nest with eight raptor enthusiasts, two of whom were licensed bird-banders prepared to band; another played hooky from online elementary school. Unlike hours earlier, when the female had kept watch, there were no adults near the nest. One did call . . . a far off cry not intended for us. The fate of the chicks, which were definitely *not* in the nest and too young to have fledged, the subject of Talmudic debate. Like detectives at a crime scene, we uncover grimly fascinating evidence: a feather here, a feather there; one extends for its sheath like a rose in a vase. Straight up the nest-tree . . . signs of a foodchain blasphemy, of an apex predator on an apex predator, of wild hunger and malice. Where chicks had been dragged down the tree, tufts of feathers fastened to branch stubs; a white line fixed to pine bark, for the goshawks, a pathway of ill intent. Somewhere, in a merciful corner of the valley, a bobcat kitten spins muscle out of hawk protein.
Back at the pond, ducklings follow their mother through a veil of mist. Overhead: a goshawk, a transparent predator with no time to mourn, flies to her own killing fields, bulldogged and belligerent.