Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘crows

THE VIEW FROM MY SITTING ROOM

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The crows are quite vocal this afternoon. They circle the tree tops in a tight crowd and in their own time light on the topmost branches, black smudges on White Birches, bare White Ash and dark-barked Black Walnut trees. All the while causing a commotion that shatters the quietude of the day. The clamor persists as more join their gathering. Then, for no obvious reason, they take flight heading down the line of trees to yet another perch to begin the process all over again. The bush behind my house is a favourite gathering place for crows.

I live on the shoulder of the Saugeen River. It is but minutes from my back door. But between the water and me is a thick forest of red tipped Sumacs, high weeds, gnarled apple trees and wild lilacs choked with wild grape vines that descends into a steep bank thick with cedars. These cedars have grown so dense that little light gets through. You must look up past their dead and dying branches to the green canopy to catch a glimpse of sky.

Somewhere along the brow of this line is a hard to detect path leading to the river. It slides down into darkness. The dead branches arch over it making the descent a sinister passage like Orpheus into the Underworld.

We seldom take that walk. We say it is because the path back up is an uncomfortable pitch for our old legs. But perhaps the claustrophobic forest recalls some deeply buried childhood fear. Why else would it attract crows?

This line of bush is different in winter, though.

Below it, the canyon that holds the Saugeen becomes a snow channel. Winds off the water charge through the harbor mouth and follow the path of the river blowing the lake effect squalls up and over our river-hill subduing the bush and trees and obliterating them under a weight of white. When the weather changes so does the view.

This is the forest outside my sitting room window.

Its tree line catches the light of the rising sun, then turns black at sunset. Green, grey, beige or white, whatever the season’s colour, there is never a time when it is boring or taken for granted. It is constant in its consistent changes.

 

 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 26, 2012 at 5:00 PM

HURON FRINGE – THE DAY BEFORE

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The sun is warm on my back. I am sitting at a picnic table at the edge of the Visitor’s Centre of MacGregor Point Provincial Park. It is the day before the beginning of The Huron Fringe Birding Festival. I’m here to help set up the Registration Tent…actually it’s more like one of those large steel-framed-plastic-covered garages that pop up on driveways all over town come fall. What with all the volunteers, though,  it was up in no time.

Now, I’m whiling away the morning until N. finishes with some organizational details for opening day tomorrow.

The Chickadees are feeding out of my hand. They stay in the park year-round and have no fear of people baring food. Actually, they expect handouts.

It is a spectacular day. Cool and sunny. Traces of wispy cirrus clouds are lying high in an unbelievable blue sky. I walk the trails just to waste time. It is forest-quiet except for bird sounds and bellowing bullfrogs. A turtle sunning itself on a log plops into the pond as I attempt a stealth approach. Overhead a red-winged Blackbird chases a crow. They dive, wheel and bank out over the water in tight formation…aerial acrobatics. The Blackbird wins.

Looking down I spot three brilliant yellow Lady’s Slippers. One must tread carefully out here. The spring wildflowers are starting to show.

Over the next two weekends I won’t be looking at birds. I will be spending a lot of  time looking at nature and the land, hiking the Huron Fringe coastline of Lake Huron and the Bruce Peninsula and trying to learn all about nature photography.

If my pictures are any good, I’ll show them to you. And if this beautiful country shows me anything special, I’ll tell you about that too.


CROWS

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images3 Now that the days are longer, now that spring  has announced its intentions, the crows are  happier. They like the tree line above the  riverbank, which puts them right in my  backyard. It’s their starting point, their meeting place. They wake us in the morning and serenade us after dinner. They congregate at first light and before sunset, their gathering telegraphed by their cawing chorus calling every crow within earshot to join the clan.

Dark clusters of crows swirl overhead in perfect arcs diving for the trees with a cacophony of calls. They light momentarily, then with unsettled haste, fly off again, the beating of hundreds of wings sounding like the winter wind that ushers in a snow squall. Flock after flock, like a reverse of stars in a black night, black dots against a terra cotta evening sky, follow an invisible flight path that takes them from treetop to treetop, again and again. There is agitation in their flight, an aerial helter skelter, with seemingly no point, no plan and no apparent purpose. Just a lot of noise and a lot of energy wasted going absolutely nowhere. Stragglers struggle to catch up with the main crowd. And when they do, they dive and tumble, somersaulting in mid air as if celebrating their acceptance by the others.

Sometimes interlopers appear. Uninvited bands of crows flying in from all directions intent on intruding on territory already claimed. This is when the sky blackens as all flocks merge into a monotone mélange of movement. There is no telling who is who… who is welcome or who is being told to go. That’s when they land in the treetops to settle the battle by squawking loudly at each other until somebody leaves. Is it the winner or the loser? Hard to tell with crows.

And what does it matter? Tomorrow they will repeat the pattern, obviously never tiring of the routine. Crows know how to have fun.


 

 

 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 19, 2009 at 9:00 PM