Date: 7/19/20 5:14 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] July 19, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford
5:21 a.m. 63 degrees, wind ENE 1 mph. Sky: flat white with a hint of peach;
the air thick with visible humidity; no separation between ground and sky,
everything and everywhere a shroud of fog. Permanent streams: current
slowing but still babbling. Intermittent streams: a trickle and puddles.
Wetlands: encased in fog; visibility reduced to halfway across; it looks
like the film set for the remake of *The Creature From the Black Lagoon*. I
can't see the mid-marsh snag, the red-shouldered hawk's post; if a
pterodactyl perched there, I wouldn't know it. Pond: cranking out the mist.
DOR: a lousy night for green frogs, which scatter in huddled wreckage; one
adult, and four recently transformed tadpoles out for a fatal evening
AOR: a pair of robins, always robins. Flattened frogs don't interest them.
Two tanagers, hidden in leaves and fog, sing in the oaks, a series of
hoarse and raspy phrases over and over. Pack-a-day songbirds that make
similarly patterned robins sound like Sam Cooke. One last look before they
leave; one glimpse of an indescribable red, set off by coal-black wings, so
intense I need sunglasses . . . that's all I want—one last glimpse before
the color drains.
The musical fabric of the neighborhood: Four white-breasted nuthatches on
the trunk of white pine and a small crowd of chickadees in hemlocks. Can
winter be far off? Out of the density of the fog, a red-shouldered hawk
screams, and a barred owl barks. An alder flycatcher, the first I've heard
in a month, an ascending *rrrep*, *rrrep; *sounds like angry phoebe. A
yellow-billed cuckoo, a soft, hollow note repeated at intervals,
suggests the call of an America bittern wearing a face mask.
A flock of loquacious jays, ten or twelve, an extended family on a Sunday
outing in pines and streamside maples. Fog and jays; suggestions of October
in bowels of summer. They don't seem to be feeding. Just chasing each other
around like kids on a playground, a wild troop of blue jays enlivens an
otherwise quiet morning, motionless as fog.
Three red-eyed vireos by the lower permanent stream engaged in a musical
battle royale, each bird singing a phrase every couple of seconds,
stupefyingly repetitive. *Here-I-am, up-in-the-tree, here-I-am*. The
dullest of musical messengers, ho-hum songbirds but feathered metronomes,
all the same, which set to music the beat of the Earth, the spin of a
summer ineluctably en route into autumn.
In the meantime, I have more raspberries than I know what to do with.