Friday, May 9, 2014

Slow birds

     In this cold, wet and backward spring, the birds have been slow to migrate to the island. Today I heard ospreys whistling aloft, then looked up to confirm it. Four were circling, lower than usual. A couple of days ago on my afternoon walk I heard a downy woodpecker knocking a tree. Usually they are a week earlier. No white-throated sparrows yet, though the song sparrows are around. The phoebe that visited earlier has seldom been back, so I don't suppose a nesting pair will be here as they were last summer. Robins abound, singing more often just after a rain, or as it comes to an end in drizzle. Haven't yet seen or heard bluejays. Goldfinches are scarce and should not be. The hermit thrushes I thought I heard a while ago have not sounded since. Soon, I hope. I did hear a Nashville warbler three days ago, out by the camp. They are rare visitors here. I didn't recognize the song and had to consult Donald Borror's recordings to identify it. As usual, the chickadees are most numerous. I've always hoped to see a boreal, but it's the black-capped that is here, there, and everywhere. They are the first here to sing a spring song, their fee'e-bee, sometimes a little earlier than the calendar arrival of spring.
     Twelve days ago I planted peas, and they're just beginning to push up out of the soil. Today onion sets and potatoes went in--the usual Stuttgarter sets (seeds take too long) and two varieties of potatoes--red gold for the early, and satina for the late keepers. All later than usual on account of the wet soil. The deer having decimated the rhododendron in front of the house, I read in a pamphlet on "gardening in deer country" that Japanese flowering quince are not to their liking, so planted two small ones near the rhody and will have to cut the rhody back severely. We'll see if the deer leave it alone. They are bold enough to come right up to the edge of the house. In a couple of days I'll plant some more vegetables and hope also to get an apple whip into the ground in the orchard where another had a rough go--same variety, Garden Royal. The town truck came up the dirt road today and spread some dirt into the places where it had washed out last fall and earlier this spring. Unaccountably, more often than not they time this road work just before a rain and this was no exception as the forecast is for a storm tomorrow. But the forecasts aren't always accurate and one can hope for a light rain or none.

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