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A Bird Digs The Earth For Earth Day

american-robin

I saw a sight that I believe I have actually never seen, though it is fabled the world over.

Standing on the front stoop to test the air I saw a robin on the grass. Robins are rather skittish and usually, when a human presence is so close, it will make them hop (and they truly do *hop*) away. But this one stayed put.

My understanding is that birds ‘hear’ the worms under the earth – that is how they detect them. I assume that is why they so often have their head in a cocked position. However, for this robin, the listening part of the chase was over.

As I watched the robin made a strike into the earth with its beak. It was then that an almost cartoon-like image occurred. The bird had a portion of the worm in its beak and began to pull. It pulled and pulled and the worm stretched and stretched. It made me think of someone pulling a threaded needle from the fabric they were sewing. The length of the worm became even longer than the robin’s body. With this constant and slow tug, the worm finally popped out of the earth.

Then the robin had a go at it.

The bird took at the long, brown earthworm and began to snip off pieces with its beak. It could not have been more effective if it had a pair of scissors. Substantial, beak-sized pieces which it swallowed quickly. The long earthworm became shorter and shorter, giving the robin less to hold on to. In under two minutes the worm became one remaining morsel hanging from the robin’s beak. It was only then that the robin began to hop across the grass. The last piece of worm disappeared inside the robin and the robin quickly took off.

One satisfied predator.

One less worm.

(image)1.bp.blogspot.com/-da07hMgESEs/VT1Y9cNgOCI/AAAAAAAAMIs/DVG3oaeFGME/s1600/American-Robin.jpg

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Through The Fog Came The Birds

The fog had nearly engulfed the house, swirling across the bay and up the cliffs. Most of the surrounding buildings were nearly gone. White, trailing mists swirled around as if they were hiding the secrets of a spooky movie.

And, it was kind of spooky when the fog across the street parted and filled in, parted and filled in, leaving vague impressions of something on the ground. Then parted and stayed that way a bit longer.

Foraging on the grass were two huge Canada geese and a handful of robins. Both species absent for lo these many months. The robins had their usual agitated hops, but the two geese were nearly stock-still. One was bent over, showing an expansive goose ass as it nibbled and rooted in the yellow grass. Its partner stood upright, almost at the back of the other goose.

The fog still wafted in and out, above and beyond. Perhaps the stationary goose had had its fill. Perhaps it was guarding its partner, looking intently through the fog. Perhaps they took turns doing so. It seemed that their only movement was caused by the fog itself.

The robins, however, performed their usual acrobatic dance and scuttle over the grass. They hopped in-and-out of the fog, and the fog swirled this-way-and-that around them. The lay of the land was the play of the land. And then the curtain of fog descended.

(image)https:www.youngspestcontrol.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Canada-Geese.jpg

If The Wind Howls At Midnight, Should It Howl At Noon?

guided-by-the-sound-of-a-howling-wind-590x349

Because, that is how the wind doth blow. From the ocean (where it gets a good start) across the shore and up the hills. And it doesn’t seem to want to stop. Whistle, whistle, whistle.

I think it makes more noise through the bare trees than those, at other times of year, with leaves. The branches shiver and the house shakes and the roof does not sound as secure as one would like.

Apparently it is not a precursor of storm, for the sky is blue save for some well-tossed fluffy clouds. And they do like to tumble in the wind. But, of course, they have no place to fall.

So, the winter sand from the street whirls, and dust balls tumble along, and it is best to turn your head away from the grit.

It’s better than being tossed across the waves of the sea however, think I.

And a sign of how much the wind howls?

A chair under the doorknob.

(image)http://duckduckgo.com/?q=howling+wind&t=h_&iax=images&ia=images&iai=http%3A%2F%2Feluvium.net%2Fworks%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F10%2Fguided-by-the-sound-of-a-howling-wind-590×349.jpg

Winter In Canada With Bear And Dog And Snow

After a late winter snow storm, Grosvenor Park, North Bethesda, MD, USA.

I post this winter tale  when the snow decides to storm and the wind shakes the trees and there in nary a bird to see. It happened a few years ago, and hints at the rougher side of Nature, which is so often just around the corner in Canada.

Some years in the past, I looked after a dog whilst her owners went out of town.

Tibbit is a big, friendly dawg who likes inspecting piles of leaves. She has a long lead which her benevolent human allows to go as far as possible. She knows (better than her accompanying human) that there are treats at the end of each walk.

On Saturday I didn’t get Tibbit out until after dark. We skirted the university (where her masters work) and went up a street bordering the campus. We both liked the Christmas lights. Near the top of the street we met an inebriated gentleman warning us of a bear in the surrounding woods.

“Flush him out,” said he, “And I’ll get my 3 aught 3.”

“Get the rifle first,” I replied, and we went our respective ways.

Now Tibbit and I doubted the veracity of the gentleman, so when we came to a trail through the woods, we took it. I will admit I did peer more intently into the gloom than usual, but one trail led to a larger trail which led back to the university. We advanced without incident.

On Sunday I again walked Tibbit toward the university, though from a different direction. It was a crisp, clear day and she gamboled (as much as the leash allowed ) through the new fallen snow. Sunshine gleamed. This time we were on the other side of the campus, but our walk eventually led to a position about half a mile away from where we were the previous evening.

We followed another trail into the woods and admired the sun through the fir trees. The path was wide and sloped. It came to turn some distance away which would lead us even closer to where we were the day before.

At the top of the slope Tibbit stopped dead in her tracks. She stared and stared. She glanced briefly into the woods but mainly kept staring along the trail. I saw nothing nor heard anything (and I was intent upon both).

Tibbit did not move and made not a sound. She just kept staring.

After a solid two minutes of this I started to backtrack and she made no complaint.

You betcha she got her dog treats.

(image)buckscountyandbeyond.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Winter-Storm-1-26-15-1024×770.jpg

Kafka Walks In A Winter Storm

Tree in snow blizzard

In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote. 

 

04 December 1917

I imagine the weather experts will howl about today’s storm the way it still howls around our ears.

Their complaints will ring with vindication. Racing unchecked across field and pasture, it strikes with a force I am unaccustomed to in Prague. Ottla was hesitant to let me out into it, but she bundled me into my winter gear, with a scarf just below my eyes.

It was too violent for me to venture far, so I just wandered around the village. I’m sure that if anyone did see me, fingers made circles as they pointed to their heads.

“The Herr Doktor,” they would warn their children. “Do not go after an education like that.”

Gulled By The Gull – The Smart Bird Strikes

 

seagull-beakI was by the harbour – chilly though it was – standing on one of the wharfs that was still in sunlight.

I had been cautious as I approached the edge, because I did not want to disturb an injured seagull, It was huddled beside a corner post, trying to stay out of the wind. I figured there was enough room for both of us.

The gull did shift its weight from time to time, and seemed to keep its side toward the wind. It was not a sleek-looking bird, and had misaligned feathers on one of its wings. It favoured an odd side-hop when it moved. I wondered what misadventure it might have experienced.

There was little traffic on the harbour, but the sunshine and clear sky made the water a deep and beautiful blue. I was looking out toward the ocean proper when a commotion startled me. My decrepit gull was fast into the air and then, even faster, into the water. Seconds later the bird was back in the air, its beak full of crab.

The gull landed a very safe distance from me. It began to dispatch the crab with fast and furious strikes of its beak. The gull kept the crab on its back as it pecked away at the softer underside. This was no delicate fine dining, as pieces of the crab’s shell flew in various directions, and made sounds as they landed on the surrounding dock. Soon, the only motions the crab made were from the piercing of the gull’s beak.

Considering that I dine – admittedly, with a tad more finesse – upon lobster, I had no problem with the gull acquiring its own meal. It had been earned.

And I will make no more assumptions about the state of gulls by appearance alone.

(image) http://www.cepolina.com/photo/nature/animals/birds/seagull/gull/4/seagull-beak.jpg

The Elephant In The Storm

african-elephant-rainbow-south-africa-lonely-bull-crosses-grass-plains-dark-storm-clouds-as-background-56027644

From: The Elephant Talks To God  

The elephant was lost to the wind.

He stood foursquare against the tumult, head lowered as if ready to charge. It wrapped his body in its flags and banners, and then as quickly ripped them away. He had to close his eyes in some of the gusts, and occasionally his tail stuck straight out behind.     Many of the other animals found shelter, and even the monkeys came down to the lower branches of their trees. But the elephant flapped his ears in ecstasy as the wind battered against him, and trumpeted as loudly as the rowdydow would permit.

“I hear you,” said a frolicking cloud, as it whipped past his head. It turned a somersault back over the elephant’s back, and positioned itself with much dexterity in the elephant’s line of vision. “And I hazard the guess I’m the only one who can.”

“It’s like flying.”

“Now, now. You’ve tried that before.”

“But I’m staying on the ground, this time.”

“Well,” conceded God. “You’re standing on the ground. And it’s probable you will be staying on the ground. But, as you know, nothing in life is certain.”

“It certainly isn’t,” agreed the elephant, who then attempted to nod his head in agreement. But the wind took a particular bend, and not only could he not nod his head, but his trunk got thrown back into his face, hitting him in the eye.

“Ouch,” said the elephant.

“A cautionary God,” said God, “would go `tsk tsk’, and tell you to come in out of the wind.”

“And is that what you’re going to tell me,” shouted the elephant over the roar.

“God, no,” said God. “This is great stuff.”

“You’re a reckless God, then?” asked the elephant.

“Reckless. And cautious. There is a time for both. There is a need for both. Life demands that you run with it. And sometimes you run scared, and sometimes you run joyful.” The cloud was now tangled in the elephant’s tusks. ” And sometimes you get so caught up in it all that you can’t tell the difference.” The cloud shouted. “And sometimes you get hit in the eye. And sometimes you don’t.”

“And sometimes both,” suggested the elephant.

“You’re catching on.”

“But to you,” protested the elephant. “It is all so simple.”

“But …” The cloud sounded perplexed. “It is as simple as it sounds. Everything is everything. What you seem to do is pay too much attention to the individual parts. Concentrate on the whole.”

“I can hardly think of everything when I’m in the middle of this.”

“This is the perfect place.” The cloud played tag with the elephant’s ears. “Race with it. Race with it. Race with it. You will never dance a better dance than here. With me.”

And the elephant watched the cloud tumble around his head, and bounce against his back, and twist around his tail.

And the elephant laughed, and laughed so loud that it broke through even the racing wind, and made the other animals peek from their shelters to watch.

And the elephant bobbed and weaved with the cloud, and the cloud held the elephant in a wispy embrace, and the wind turned to music.

(image)https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/african-elephant-rainbow-south-africa-lonely-bull-crosses-grass-plains-dark-storm-clouds-as-background-56027644.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Crow Sorrow, Two Crows Joy, 200 Crows A Crow Tree

A tweet flying through my twitter feed tells of a woman who just attained her PhD in … crows. Well, her thesis is more exact than that, but anything dealing with crows catches my attention. And I find she also has a WordPress site. So, why not repost this older “Crow blog“? Whilst I look out at The Crow Tree.

01zimmer-master1050

(image)https://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/10/01/science/01ZIMMER/01ZIMMER-master1050.jpg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The crows are in The Crow Tree. They have not been there for months. Sitting at the top above the red and orange foliage.

There are 50 and more crows in The Crow Tree. Making a mighty ruckus as if in strenuous debate. They are greatly agitated.

Crows leave The Crow Tree in droves, circle and return. They are clustered on the top branches with constant noise. More arrive.

Stark contrast on The Crow Tree. A ridge of black crows on top of the red and orange leaves against the blue sky. They keep circling.

It is a picket fence of crows on The Crow Tree. When they perch they cast large shadows. They seem less agitated.

The crow discourse on The Crow Tree seems to be over. Most have moved on and the few remaining are silent. I wonder what they decided.

At The Crow Tree, the rest is silence.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An hour ago my walk took me to a small park/garden across from a church. There are three benches, and I sit there often. Part way through my contemplations, a crow settled into the bird bath. A large crow and a birdbath that would not comfortably accommodate two crows. There had been  a big rainstorm the day before and the birdbath was full.

At first I thought the crow was just drinking from the water. But, within a couple of minutes, he was splashing and cavorting and dousing himself in water from his active dance. Head to tip of tail and all feathers in between. A right good soaking.

Then, with a great shake and some flying sprays of water, he flew away.

When Beavers Fall In Summer Love – Stand Aside

beavers

Some summers ago, I was walking along a river, and heard the strangest noise. It was one of those noises which, when I found out what It was, sounded exactly as it should.

A beaver was chewing at a branch on the bank of the river. First there were small rolling noises as the branch went through its hands, and then the ‘gnaw gnaw gnaw’, and then the turning noise and the cycles were repeated.

This went on fifteen minutes or so, then the beaver and I both heard noises in the water. We both saw another beaver approaching.

The beaver-at-gnaw quickly went in her direction (though I can only guess which sex was which).

They swam toward each other, then rubbed faces. The approaching beaver made small bawling noises like a young calf. They rubbed bodies and seemed to sniff each other, then they swam in different directions.

This performance – the swimming away, the languid circling, the approaches – went on for twenty minutes. A couple of times the ‘gnawing’ beaver clambered over the over beaver’s back, but this lasted just a few seconds. The beaver which had approached rubbed noses once again, and made the bawling sounds one more time.

I never appreciated how large beavers are until one of them came up on the bank. The water was clear enough to see their feet and tail move underwater (I wonder if the portion out of the water might have the 1/10 proportion of an iceberg).

The sun was setting and they became difficult to see. However they decided to part anyway. One began to go down river toward the harbour, and one headed to the other shore.

I was left to ponder what they might have in plan after a good night’s sleep.

(image)4.bp.blogspot.com/-08yw2sDiLAQ/URpBmKAAdDI/AAAAAAAAAM8/A8vw56FM22A/s1600/beavers.JPG

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