Friday, May 9, 2014

Sitting Still

Where the trail to Halibut Point opens by a small quarry a fluttering in the cedar trees caught my eye. They had to be sizable birds to be noticed from this distance across the pond, herons I quickly realized from their indignant croaks as they lifted off while I tried to focus my camera. Probably black-crowned night herons. They circled overhead resolutely waiting for privacy. I had no sensible counter-move but to move on.

Herons circling
Hunters have learned to sit still and let the game approach. I settled down on a comfortable rock beside another pond, out of the wind that muffled bird sounds. Almost immediately a brassy kingfisher flew in, flashed his belts and crest, and departed with a scolding lecture on fishing rights.

A pleasant waiting station
From a point to my right buoyant notes streamed out of the stillness, a mockingbird I supposed. The irrepressible stanzas poured down from a tree top. The soloist was much too proud to abandon his station to an inquisitive cameraman. I saw that it was actually a brown thrasher, delivering the warm-up of an entire orchestra from one talented throat. He broadcast the terms of his nesting territory with admirable diligence and melody.
Brown thrasher
Even as the thrasher carried on, a newcomer flew into the glade. It signaled 'woodpecker' by clinging vertically to a tree trunk. It immediately put its chisel beak to work on woodpecker business. My zoom lens gave me a lovely look at the downy breast feathers that presumably account for its name, but no glimpse of the inner anatomy that makes its occupation tolerable.
Downy woodpecker
The enjoyment of so many avian sounds quieted for a bit my acquisitive impulse for more sightings. Sea gulls zipped by above my shelter, heads tucked in like freewheeling cyclists, ballistic birds racing the air as it picked up speed around "Haul-about Point." A fly free-danced over the ledge.
The granite dell captured sunlight's warmth to accelerate seasonal developments. At my feet a tiny aspen leafed out from a fissure in company with poison ivy, both well ahead of their kin in more exposed sites. The baby-skin glow of their foliage accentuated the achievement of organisms coming to fullness among the unconcerned elements of their anchorage.
A grey birch's male catkins
Nearby a grey birch exemplified the vigor of a pioneering plant in its prime. It had gained this foothold in a rocky zone sterilized by the quarrying industry. The tree was preparing to increase itself in the same way that it had originally come to be. Its profusion of male catkins  will pollinate the female cones whose seeds adapt to germination in dry infertile soil.
Palm warbler
I moved to a wooded habitat, with some open sight lines over a pond.  Early vanguards of the warbler migration occasionally flitted through the brush. One of them perched long enough for a portrait and identification as a palm warbler, en route to nesting grounds in northern Canada.
Moving about was clearly essential to visiting a variety of birding venues, but sitting still made this photograph possible. The warbler knows I'm there but isn't alarmed to the point of escape. A little luck brought me a clear view with a minimum of  camera fidgeting. Now if only those herons will likewise accept my benign intentions....

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