Date: 1/3/21 7:52 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] January 3, 2021: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center,
7:31 a.m. 27 degrees, wind ESE 1 mph (so subtle a breath even beech leaves
don't notice). Sky: in limbo. Eventually, several rolls of white clouds
separate out of the blue-gray, unspool, then merge again. Blue-white
replaces blue-gray, ruffled replaces taut, as a dull sky lightens, lumen by
lumen. Wetlands: babbling incoherently, water hurries to join the marsh,
leaving me in the lull of the flow. Wetlands: silent, under a rolling
landscape of clouds, now white. Pond: airtight, corked by snow and ice. My
attention draws to three errant oak leaves, blemishes on an otherwise
pristine surface, trackless and cotton-white.

Dogs smell a tapered, two-inch-long scat deposited mid-road—sink into a
drunken canine stupor. Deep breaths grade to snorts. They're one small step
from a token meal. Scat seems small for a coyote. Maybe a fox, red or gray,
both conspicuous by their absences (for more than a year).

Stereophonic red-breasted nuthatches, two groups on either side of the
pond. All calling at once: *ink, ink, ink*. Most nuthatches I've seen or
heard since December 15, when a cold front (7 degrees, wind NW 9 mph) swept
them out of the valley. Chickadee on a hemlock twig, up and down, up and
down . . . a spindly teeter-totter. A playground in the trees.

The lure of snow. Assembled below the feeders: six doves, two gray
squirrels, and Ernie, the Hungarian partridge, collectively dwarfed by nine
turkeys. Flitting from feeders to cherry: five blue jays, a white-breasted
nuthatch, a male hairy woodpecker, and more chickadees than I can count
(accurately). A jovial, hyper-energetic *mob*, like sparks of static
electricity. No pause back and forth. They have my attention . . . again.
Flock *much* too domestic a term for the swirling chaos at the feeder. Mob
more appropriate.
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