"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens."


Carl Jung

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On The Nightstand
  • Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature
    Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature
  • A Wolf Called Romeo
    A Wolf Called Romeo
  • The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
    The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
Sunday
May312009

Under the Tall Trees

Moccasin Flowers

All my life,
so far,
I have loved
more than one thing,

including the mossy hooves
of dreams, including
the spongy litter
under the tall trees.

 

 

 

In spring
the moccasin flowers
reach for the crackling
lick of the sun

and burn down. Sometimes,
in the shadows,
I see the hazy eyes,
the lamb-lips

of oblivion,
its deep drowse,
and I can imagine a new nothing
in the universe,

the matted leaves splitting
open, revealing
the black planks
of the stairs.

But all my life--so far--
I have loved best
how the flowers rise
and open, how

the pink lungs of their bodies
enter the fore of the world
and stand there shining
and willing--the one

thing they can do before
they shuffle forward
into the floor of darkness, they
become the trees.

(Mary Oliver)

Wednesday
May272009

Clash of the Titans

I'm admittedly obsessed with wood warblers.  These tiny bundles of hyperkinetic energy are so very vibrant in both color and song . There have been many days when I have sat within our woods, with many species of these wonderful passerines flitting all around me, at times they perching on the very logs I sat on-- showing no fear in their eyes, only a bright intelligence and much curiosity. There is really no cure for 'warbler fever' except to head out to the field to observe even more warblers and listen to even more songs.  Yesterday we spent the day at Rifle River State Park, where we enjoyed an incredible number of passerines and neotrops as well as many year-round residents. Species were literally trying to outsing each other all around us and we didn't have to search far or long to view many migrants. It was one of those special days I'll not soon forget.

There is a high ridge within the park where a small dirt trail runs between two separate lakes.  The banks on either side of the ridge are a great hot-spot for bird activity, as they're able to seek shelter from any prevailing winds, and the cover is thick and teeming with small flying insects.  We stopped the jeep along the ridge, cut the motor and within 10 minutes we had at least 6 singing male American Redstarts within sight.  Redstarts have always been one of my favorite warblers, as they're most often so very approachable and have a 'friendly' nature about them, for lack of a better word.  Yesterday was no exception to that rule, as they perched on limbs right outside the jeep window, close enough that I could have reached out and touched them at times. It didn't take long to realize that we were parked right in the middle of a large and very vocal territorial dispute--  they clashed constantly and dove about the thick brush in hot pursuit of each other- then they'd perch for a bit, jerk their wings and tails in irritation then sing, then blast off at their rival all over again.  This went on for a good 1/2 hour while we laughed at ourselves and the folly of trying to keep our eyes trained on so many fast moving warbler warriors-   their complete outrage that another bird dared come into their space was very serious to them I'm sure, but it was hilarious to watch so much animation and determination in one small place.  These disputes are not mock battles by any means, as we heard the small thuds when they made contact and their bills were snapping all the while.  When one rival would finally relent and leave the area, another one would soon take it's place, so their victory songs were short and sweet before they had yet another contender to deal with.

At this point, we unknowingly entered the twilight zone of birding. (Click for larger image) While photographing this irate male, yet another scolding male flew in from behind him, raked his head with it's feet then proceeded to fly directly at me-- he passed through the window in front of me on my side, and out the other window on my hubby's side, with it's wings lightly grazing his arm.  Superbird, in a black/orange cape, able to leap through a rubicon widow in a single bound.  It happened so incredibly fast that I didn't have time to utter a sound or even duck.  And to make a bizarre moment even more so, the male didn't fly far at all after he exited the jeep-- he perched next to my hubby on a low branch, and glared through the window at the male that was still perched right where I photographed him, only he was now crouched even lower on the branch.  Superbird didn't seem to even notice us, it's attention was so totally focused on the other male. I think the head-raked bird was just as stunned as we were.

I felt we should skeedaddle out of there after Superbird darted through, since it was clear that the tiny titans were not in the least deterred from their battles by our presence.  I'm still very grateful that we had both windows down and we'll think twice before we park on enemy lines again.

Warblers- ya just gotta love 'em!

Friday
May222009

Canopy Dwellers

wood peewee calling

swallowtails basking above

scarlet tanagers