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UD Birding

As I’d hoped, the weird song of the wood thrushes is all around me now, after their nesting.  I thought I’d only hear it in the morning and the evening, but they sing from the high trees in the copses around our house all the time.   According to this guy, they must be at the height of their “territorial breeding activity.”

I keep drawing everyone’s attention to it — my husband’s, my daughter’s, my sister’s; and, today, while he was visiting, my friend Jon’s — but no one cares.  No one tries to distinguish the thrush’s ee-o-lay from the enormous ambient birdnoise of Garrett Park. 

I know they don’t care, and I don’t mind, and I turn the whole thing into a joke.  Let’s humor Miss Marple…

I was just as indifferent years ago when my mother, sitting with me in her beautiful Japanese garden, hushed our conversation and told me to listen to this or that impossible-to-distinguish piping.  She held her 1980 Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson in her lap, and I smiled as she now and then, with a little pencil, placed an X on his Systematic Checklist next to pileated woodpecker or purple martin.  I couldn’t name the plants in her garden, and I couldn’t distinguish the birds who pulled at her feeders.

Now I take that book from the books I inherited, and I study very closely the thrushes, the plovers.  I even discover a line of poetry in a heading on page 121:  HEADS OF BELTED PLOVERS.

Boots of spanish leather, heads of belted plovers.

Heads of belted plovers is the beginning of a poem.

I’ll try to think of one.

Margaret Soltan, June 27, 2009 6:07PM
Posted in: snapshots from home

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3 Responses to “UD Birding”

  1. Bonzo Says:

    Spanish leather-

    Here’s an alternate.

    You love her or you hate her…


  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    New one on me. I like. Reminds me of what Pentangle was up to — her reedy voice is one of the instruments.


  3. RJO Says:

    A few afternoons ago I spent some time watching three Killdeer chicks scurrying around the gravelly ground of a local cemetery. As long as the eggs hatch before a lawnmower passes by it’s a fine habitat for them.

    As usual, Henry Beston can supply us with apposite poetical prose.

    Autumn, Ocean, and Birds

    There is a new sound on the beach, and a greater sound. Slowly, and day by day, the surf grows heavier, and down the long miles of the beach, at the lonely stations, men hear the coming winter in the roar. Mornings and evenings grow cold, the northwest wind grows cold; the last crescent of the month’s moon, discovered by chance in a pale morning sky, stands north of the sun. Autumn ripens faster on the beach than on the marshes and the dunes. Westward and landward there is colour; seaward, bright space and austerity. Lifted to the sky, the dying grasses on the dune tops’ rim tremble and lean seaward in the wind, wraiths of sand course flat along the beach, the hiss of sand mingles its thin stridency with the new thunder of the sea.

    I have been spending my afternoons gathering driftwood and observing birds. The skies being clear, noonday suns take something of the bite out of the wind, and now and then a warmish west-sou’westerly finds its way back into the world. Into the bright, vast days I go, shouldering home my sticks and broken boards and driving shore birds on ahead of me, putting up sanderlings and sandpipers, ringnecks and knots, plovers and killdeer, coveys of a dozen, little flocks, great flocks, compact assemblies with a regimented air.

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