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.
 
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