Date: 7/20/20 5:33 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] July 20, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:12 a.m. 71 degrees, wind S 5 mph. Sky: overcast with striations; then a mackerel sky, dappled and ribbed with clouds, ruffled and torn; openings basted in pastel peach; fractured clouds edged in mauve; a sprawling and moveable and feast; an aerial landscape that belongs in an intimate Eliot Porter photograph. Permanent streams: took a big hit in yesterday's heat; more pulse than flow. Wetlands: only mist rises under my denim jacket; a doe grazes reeds, her head barely above the surface; a rich red-brown, offset by the green of the marsh. Pond: still and brown; whirligig beetles motoring in little concentric circles; around and around as if stuck in a low gear. A male kingfisher, the first I've seen here all year, stares down the pond; tadpoles and frogs beware; flies from tree to tree, rattling as though deeply disturbed. Is this a local kingfisher hatched in an esker along the Connecticut River, who grew up in the company of bank swallows and woodchucks, above an uncluttered river silenced by COVID, or a messenger from beyond this small valley, slowly working his way to jungles of Panama? Either or, he pauses for a snack on his way somewhere else.
Tanager sings up the sun, his breast and back the color of molten metal until extinguished by the seasons . . . too soon to contemplate. A lone ovenbird screams his little heart out; makes up for all other ovenbirds, which have taken the morning off. Chickadee whistles, a short, reassuring two notes sure to light up a late February morning seems out of place in the doldrums. A phoebe hacks. A troop of jays hollers. A nuthatch stutters; it doesn't matter which species, they both stutter; this one happens to be a red-breasted nuthatch. A titmouse whistles, two-noted and loudly.
Robins, full-throated and exuberant, everywhere rally; drowns out vireos, which is a monumental achievement. Robins parade their earth-toned breasts around the road, in the trees, fearless and personable; emissaries from the lawns of my boyhood. A bird that marks the travels of my life. We've crossed paths in the open spruce of Alaska; in the soybean fields of Indiana; on the slopes of the Sierras, the Rockies, the Cascades, the Appalachians; from coast to coast and along the lip of Hudson Bay and the Bay of Fundy; along the margin of significant north-south and west-east rivers, in dark flocks one winter constellating by the thousands in the Everglades. I can't go anywhere on the continent without the company of a robin, which is why I'm devoted to them. Early this summer, a robin nested in the basket of a friend's scooter, high on a shelve in the back of her garage. They're dependable, attractive, of good voice, an intimate and cheerful bird, the ideal antidote for the blues. I take solace in robins.