Friday, May 11, 2007


LittleBirder and I went outside around 6:30 this morning, letting the Dadda sleep a bit. We sat on the front stoop in our jammies, wrapped up in a fleece-lined workshirt. We opened our eyes, opened our ears, and kept company with our old cat.

From our house, the sun wasn't up yet; we are ringed by mountaintops. Doesn't that sound circular; that's not how it is; we live on one side of a skinny sloping, turning valley. At any rate, the clouds overhead were pale grey; the ones glimpsable to the east between new leaves were beginning to have the shallow gold tints of dawn. Water drops glimmered on the crabapple from last night's rain.

Our presence (mostly the cat's, who went out a bit before us) convinced a red squirrel to depart hastily. She'd been sitting on the exposed framing of the stoop, tucked up under the roof, thinking about raiding the bird feeder. We have at least 3 red squirrels on the property. One is clearly identifiable; it has a shortened tail. I'm trying to learn the slight distinguishing features of the others.

We watched a chipmunk climb up the smooth square post that holds the thistle feeder and green feed, over by the hydrangea. It had to make a leap to reach the green feeder (which has black oil sunflower seeds). The first time it tried, it missed, and tumbled to the ground about 3 feet below. Undaunted--those were black oil sunflower seeds, by golly!--it scrambled up again and succeeded.

There was lull in birdsong for a bit, as if the earliest birds had called off for the day, and the second shift hadn't quite begun. When it did, we hear "weecher weecher weecher!" from the trees across the road, and a few "ee-oh-lay"s from up to our left. A single male goldfinch laid claim to the thistle seed in the feeder, once the chipmunk had headed off towards storage. Three or so chickadees scuffled and chuckled over the various shrubs and feeders, and more sang "fee-bay!" from the forest.. One titmouse scolded the red squirrel. An unidentified sparrow poked about the rock border by the lilacs and the daffodils. Everyone fell silent when the blue jay hollered "jay! jay! jay!" ... and resumed when it stopped. Far above us, we saw a raven, or possibly a two. We quorked back to them.

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