Saturday, August 6, 2011

A warbler, a hawk, and a mystery

    End of July and beginning of August the summer squash, snap beans, cucumbers, new potatoes, beets, and earliest tomatoes come in. The old greens have gone by and the new ones are growing very slowly. Dry beans are doing so well that the rows are filling out too close to one another and I’ll have to watch carefully for mildew. After a couple of weeks’ drought the normal rains picked up again. Apples are beginning to size up. Buckwheat cover crop is mowed and will be tilled in so that another cover crop can be planted around Sept. 1, likely oats.
    We’ve had the pleasure of the company of master birder Ralph Odell, and as I may have written here earlier, when we go out walking with him the birds seem to know they ought to show themselves. Marta and I had seen a highly unusual bird in the marsh near the ocean, with a white head and shoulders and bright, robin’s egg blue wings, about the size of a sandpiper. We asked Ralph to come along to see if he could draw the mystery bird closer, and he graciously accepted; but the bird didn’t show itself. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought my camera along the first and only time we saw this bird; only binoculars. If either Marta or I had seen it by ourselves, the other wouldn’t have believed it; but each of us was a witness to the other. Marta thought it may have been an escaped parrot. It was not as afraid as most birds are, though not it didn’t fly up to us for a handout either.

    We were some disappointed but then on the trail back from the ocean to the house a black-throated green warbler came to view us, and I got a nice picture of it, shown here to the left. The black-throated green is a summer visitor here, usually quite a few of them in the forest all around, with their unmistakeable five-syllable song: za-zu-zee-zee-zu or as I hear it, “I’m black-throated green.” But in all the years I’ve looked for one, until a few days ago I’d never seen one. Credit Ralph with bringing it into view.

    And then yesterday morning, while I was writing a book review for a scholarly publication, I looked out the window and saw a hawk perching on the hawthorn tree. I got my camera, changed lenses, and snuck around the porch, hoping that the bird hadn’t flown. When I poked my head around the side of the house, the hawk was still perched there, and so I got this single photo before it flew away. On viewing the photo, Ralph identified it as an immature broad-winged hawk.

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