Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Happened in the Morning Before We Left

Northern Cardinal 4-26-09

I wake to the sounds of bird song calling me to come and play. I am so tired. I want to sleep some more. I shut off the fan and pull back the covers intending to jump back in bed and listen to the sounds of springtime and morning but the pull is too strong. I need to see it all while I can. I dress instead and am out the door in 20 minutes or less. As soon as I step out onto the deck a gorgeous male cardinal flies up to the treetop flashing his colors at me.

Tufted Titmouse 4-26-09

I hear the rapid fire call of a phoebe singing the sun up over the hill. The ever curious tufted titmice glow like gold in the light of dawn. I wander out to the pond where a lone mallard drake paddles lazily in the calm water.

The Pond 4-26-09

Looking back I see the little guest house that I am staying in. It nestles into the landscape like a natural thing. I can’t think of one thing that looks out of place here at Nature Remains. Everything is so natural looking. Everything looks like it belongs. I follow the path around the pond and emerge near the pasture again.

The Guest House 4-26-09

The ping-pong call of a field sparrow greets me as I come upon a pair of box turtles doing the wild thing. Not wanting to disturb them, I veer off to the left towards the woods and follow a path indented with the hoof prints of deer. Bird song is a constant chorus around me. There is no such thing as silence here, nor would I want there to be. This is the jubilant song of spring. This is the symphony of renewal.

I follow the path through the dark forest with sunlight barely slanting through evergreen boughs. I hear the pounding of woodpeckers drumming their territorial song. An eastern towhee invites me to “drink your tea” in the forest. A tall oak at the edge is fluttering with tiny birds gleaning insects from tender tips. Back-lit by the sun, I am unable to identify them, much to my chagrin.

The Wise Old Barn 4-26-09

I see Nina coming across the field and walk over to meet her past tree swallow homes. I feel the old barn watching me as it stands in a soft quiet light.

Yellow Warbler 4-26-09

Back near the guest house I spot movement in the nearby cherry tree where a plain gray bird is gleaning insects from the tree. My first thought is a vireo as I focus in, and then a yellow warbler hops up in plain view and starts to sing!

Mating Box turtles 4-26-09

I tell Nina about the box turtles as we eat our breakfast. She is so surprised. I assumed she observed this behavior all the time, but she tells me she has wondered if her property was good mating habitat for them. When we are done with breakfast she asks me to show her where I saw them. We follow the path around the pond once again and I only expect to show her the spot where I saw them, but as we emerge from the brush we find the pair in a totally compromised position, the male’s eyes glowing red. Is it passion or embarrassment?

Red eyes! 4-26-09

To me it looks as if he is saying, would you mind giving us a little privacy! We quietly walk away and load up the car for our 5 hour drive to the New River Birding Festival. Nina and her husband have been gracious hosts. I feel privileged to stay here and to migrate with Nina to the festival. With bins in my lap and the camera nearby, we are off!

Birds Seen 4-26-09 at Nature Remains:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Mourning dove
  5. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  6. Downy woodpecker
  7. Eastern Phoebe
  8. Warbling Vireo
  9. Blue jay
  10. American Crow
  11. Tree swallow
  12. Northern Rough-winged swallow
  13. Barn Swallow
  14. Carolina chickadee
  15. Tufted titmouse
  16. Eastern Bluebird
  17. American robin
  18. European starling
  19. Yellow Warbler
  20. Eastern Towhee
  21. Field Sparrow
  22. Northern Cardinal
  23. Red-winged blackbird
  24. Brown-headed Cowbird
  25. American Goldfinch


Guy D said...

All are great pics but I have to say my favourite is definately the Card in the first one.

Have a great week!
Regina In Pictures

Beth said...

This is so fun--like taking the trip with you. Your pictures are great as always.

Mary said...

Kathie, this is so nice. Nature Remains looks wonderful! I've never seen turtles do the wild thing!!!!

Ruth said...

Thanks for the early morning tour. We do not have Tufteed Titmice around here and they look so spunky. Those turtles look pretty spunky too...amazing find!

Gaelyn said...

What a wonderful morning. You've seen and heard to many birds already and you're not even at the festival yet.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I saw my first box turtle EVER in West Virginia. Too cold for them up here. I'm enjoying reading your travel story Kathie.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Aren't box turtles the best! We have a few that travel around the LoveNest, but we have never spotted them mating....

Happy Spring!

Doug Taron said...

It's obviously spring. Three of my regular blog reads (including my own) have photos of mating animals as the most recent post. One of our museum box turtles is named Harrison. He has quite the reputation as a ladies turtle.

Diane AZ said...

Nature Remains looks like a wonderful dream with the old barn, grass, trees, pond and all those birds. We have a box turtle living in our backyard. Sometimes I think about building a little pond for the turtle, and to attract birds. It looks like my backyard is smaller than Nina's pond.

Kelly said...

...love the vivid red of the cardinal...and the strong yellow of the Yellow Warbler. Wow...great catch with the box turtles!

Kathryn said...

Kathie, Love the Cardinal and Yellow Warbler pics. Their colors are so vibrant. You made me laugh out loud at "doing the wild thing"! Thanks. Looking forward to the next installment. K

Anonymous said...

Great pics and wonderful post with them, Happy Spring!!!!!