Friday, August 5, 2011

Birds and the mountains calling

I’ve written before about how when we’re lying in bed we can see the bird feeder right outside the back window and 7 feet past that, the bird bath and behind/beside the bird bath is a big bush that's undistinguished in terms of flowers, but is a major bird bush. Actually our entire yard, front and back, is a bird sanctuary. With all the bird-watching, squirrel studies (all squirrels are named Chubby), lizard updates (all named Mr. Green), various roses and other flowers coming into or going out of bloom, so on and so forth, it’s as if our lives inside our house extend to outside. Photo: Junior wren on the front porch - first day of flying

So many wonderful things …

The adolescent jay dive-bombing the feeder to bother the other birds.

Mr. and Mrs. C (the cardinals) are always first to the feeder, just as the sky begins to lighten.

The year before last a wren couple made their nest in our mailbox, so we closed the porch off. One day we found a tiny baby wren (no feathers, big head, totally helpless on the porch and put it back in the nest – which we confirmed later really is the best thing to do). When the junior wrens were ready to fly, they spent a few hours clinging to the brick, flying from wall to wall and away they flew. Photo: Junior wren on Phyllis' house - first day of flying

Now there’s another wren nest in the ivy growing all around and on the front bathroom window overlooking the driveway. When a parent is on the way with food she or he calls in a kind of descending trill and the babies respond with the faintest of peeps that Leslie can hear, but I cannot. After the babies get their food there is complete quiet. I walked up on the porch a few days ago and there were two junior wrens on the porch. I got the camera and went to the driveway, where the juniors were practicing flying back and forth between Phyllis’ house and ours. A few juniors were around the next morning and by afternoon they were all gone. Photo: Junior wren on the feeder on the front room aircon - first day of flying

The “homeless birds” (drab-appearing cowbirds and grackles) are the most spectacular bathers, using their wings and tails to splash water everywhere. They crowd up – 6-8 of them on and in the birdbath.

Doves are a poor symbol of peace – they’re aggressive with other birds and among themselves. They lift their wings and spread their tails to appear bigger and run toward others. What goofy birds they are. The sparrows pay them no mind, crowding around like they do. Photo: Chubby in the roses at a living room window

The sparrows are always around, crowds of them, hopping and flying around, happy as larks. They seem to have no conflicts with anyone, including among themselves. They’ll take a piece of the bread and kind of hop off the edge of the feeder to the ground where if they drop the bread often another sparrow grabs the bread and hops away. When the young ones are able to fly to the feeder they hop after adults, shivering and cheeping for food.

For awhile we had what we called sparrots – parrots that flocked with sparrows. They actually live closer to the lake and after a month or so, found their way home.

Once Leslie called me to the back of the house and there on the bird bath was a hawk – a force to be reckoned with.

We have blackbirds (all named Quoth the Raven [said in a husky deep voice]) who prefer the bread. When one of them lands on the feeder it pretty much clears the deck, except for Chubby. They take a piece of bread and fly back to the birdbath to soak it for 15-20 seconds, the scoff it down and back to the feeder. Back and forth, back and forth. Photo: Robin red breast and cedar wax wings in back. The cedar wax wings are around for one, sometimes two days/year - just passing through

Leslie rescued a baby jay from Judo’s formidable jaws. She fed it little pieces soaked dog food on a toothpick for a few days and then found a rescue place (ABC Vets) that took it.

We are on the 35th day of >100F. We’re filling the birdbath several times/day and I’ve begun spraying the leaves of the pecan tree and the bush by the birdbath, thinking that that might improve things for the birds. Yesterday, when Leslie was lying down to take a nap (actually it’s mostly lying down for her daily back, hip, and leg-rub – same as mine, earlier in the day) I saw a hummingbird hovering by the bush by the birdbath. There are no flowers – what is that little guy doing – Oh, right, having a drink, taking a break from the usual fare of Phyllis’ Turk’s caps. Photo: Quoth the Raven

This morning, before daylight we saw an owl on the birdbath.

In a few days I’m headed to Wyoming to do a similar trek to my epic (it was epic for me, anyway) hike into the Wind River wilderness in 2009.

As is increasingly so, I’m uneasy about being away from Leslie, especially going into a wilderness area. But I have my SPOT (satellite beacon to check in okay or to send distress signal) and an ever increasing sense of my limitations. And this time I’m uneasy about leaving home in all this heat – Yikes! And I go with a tremendous sense of appreciation for a wife who is so supportive of this. Leslie is a rare one – in quite a few ways, actually. For all our life, all our love, all our work together, all our travel, our wonderful son, our dreams, all these days, and so much more: I love you. Photo: Looking back on the mountains I came over in 2009.

From Dallas I35 north through OK City, Wichita, go west on I70 to Denver, north on 25 a few miles, cut off to Ft. Collins, then north on 287 to Laramie, west on I80 to Rock Springs and 191 to Pinedale. Here is an exact route that will be abundantly clear to anyone around Pinedale. I’m planning on starting at Elkhart Park outside of Pinedale, through Miller Park (“Parks” are huge meadows.), past Photographer’s Point past Hobb’s Lake, Seneca Lake, Little Seneca and then if everything is real good (I’ll let you know by sending three consecutive I’m okay messages) north on the Highline Trail past Lower and Upper Jean Lakes, on to Shannon Pass Trail to Cube Rock Pass around the south side of Peak Lake up through Peak Basin and up between Split Mountain and G-4 to overlook Mammoth Glacier, then traverse around to Knapsack Col and down into Titcomb Basin to Island lake and on out. If it’s going just okay, i.e., I’m too slow or too much knee pain or whatever, I won’t send 3 consecutive okays and will go past the Highline Trail cut-off to Island Lake and from there into Indian Basin and either up Freemont Peak or just mill around in Indian or Titcomb Basins for a few days and then out.

And here's a song for you, sweet Leslie:


Somchai said...

May your house always extend
Out beyond it's walls.
May you always walk the Winds
And home to bird calls.

CK said...

A lovely gift. Wow. Thank you.