"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens."

Carl Jung


An Abundance of Sparrows

We finally spent a few hours at our 'home away from home' this afternoon. It's been far too long since we've spent much time within Rifle River state park, so we loaded up Phoebe and my camera gear then hit the trails.  My favorite area to watch migrants along the highbanks of Grousehaven lake was pretty devoid of birds, with the exception of a couple of tail-wagging Palm Warblers, a singing male House Wren, many soaring Tree Swallows, and a few scattered duck species which dotted the choppy lakewaters on most of the lakes that we visited.  Once we made our way to the banks of the Rifle River, the air was virtually filled with the sweet songs of many sparrow species.  Song Sparrows were belting out their songs from high perches, while the understory and thick brush along a favored footpath was teeming with White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows scampering about the deadfall and leaf litter.  A pair of Eastern Phoebes were taking advantage of an aquatic insect hatch when they weren't gathering nest materials, and a Belted Kingfisher rattled along the waterway, stopping to hover now and then in search of minnows and fingerlings.  A Ruffed Grouse exploded out of cover within a few feet of my own while I made my way slowly back to the jeep, startling me as only they can do with their fast flurry of wingbeats. We kept our own Phoebe on a long leash when we let her out for a romp, since it's now breeding season for upland game birds and illegal for dogs to be running loose on state owned land.

While scoping out a large grassy field, we were treated to dozens of Northern Flickers that were poking around the loose soil and many Chipping Sparrows were doing the same, with their rusty little headcaps gleaming in the sun.  A lone Grasshopper Sparrow peered above the grasses just long enough to get a good look before he took flight.  The most abundant sparrows of the day were Vesper Sparrows,  busily hop-scratching under large white pines and along disturbed road edges, while pausing to sing their soft song now and then.

We didn't come across any wildflowers in blossom,  but bright fluffy plumes of pussy willows were putting on quite a show of color before the sun dissapeared behind an oncoming cloud front.   We'll definitely be returning again very soon.


Special Occasions

Today my hubby and I celebrated 28 years of marriage and Phoebe's fourth birthday.  It doesn't seem feasible that so much time has passed since we spoke our wedding vows nor does it seem possible that our little monkey has grown up so fast. She's matured into such a wonderfully bright companion, so very affectionate and brimming with her zest for life with more energy than one dog should ever possess.   Unfortunately I'm still very wracked up with several ongoing medical issues and unable to get out and about as much as I'd like, but we managed to spend quite a bit of time outdoors enjoying the fresh air and new sights/sounds.

Expectantly, we hung our first hummingbird feeder today, placed nesting fibers and lengths of twine and rope out for the orioles, and oranges are now decorating a few tree notches--hopefully they won't draw in the local black bears that have an uncanny ability to smell fresh oranges and grape jelly from long distances away. (A bit like Phoebe has a keen nose for sniffing out 'birthday treats' placed within our pockets)

Bright sunny daffodils have finally blossomed and our trillium are just starting to bud. A few flowering shrubs and trees are beginning to leaf out and my favorite color green is becoming a bit more visible each day. Over the past week  our first Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers have been making their way through the still-bare hardwoods, gleaning midges in their constant search for food; a lone Blue-gray Gnatcatcher showed itself briefly and a few male Baltimore Orioles announced their arrival with their harsh raspy calls, wasting no time engaging each other with their loud territorial battles.  A single male Rose-breasted Grosbeak showed up at the feeders today- it's a bit odd to me that our flora is at least 2 weeks behind yet the migrants are showing up about 5-6 days early, despite the cold northerly winds and chilly evenings that seem to be hanging on forever. Quite a few species, especially cavity nesters,  have already built or are busy fashioning their nests.   It always seems a bit intrusive to me to approach birds that have many agendas to complete this time of year and their behaviors are so wonderful to watch that I try to not interfere if at all possible.  I've always sat quietly in the woods on a log or stump or hunker down along waterways that migrants follow in the spring and let the birds come to me, rather than chase them about.  Birds simply don't care to be chased or disturbed in many situations-and when they're nesting, it's my own personal mindset that they deserve their tiny bit of space without disruptions so that they too can experience those special occasions and bonds within their circles of life.




Bumps in the Night

windows thrown open

vibrating brown wings humming

moths kiss screens gently