Archive for the 'birding' Category

In all fairness …

February 12, 2016

A few days ago I received an email addressed to “Home Delivery Subscriber” from The New York Times offering me a Starbucks gift card for $20 as a token of appreciation for our patience while they resolve the home delivery disruptions.  Since I’ve written about those disruptions on this blog, I thought it was only fair to write about this gift card.  I can also report that while neither paper was delivered by 6:30 a.m. this morning, they were both there by 8:30 a.m.  Both used to come well before 6:30, back before all this turmoil began.  So we’ve regained some ground, but overall, the service has been diminished.

With regard to the gift card, I had to remind myself not to look a gift horse in the mouth, because not only don’t I drink coffee, but I have a difficult time with patronizing Starbucks for anything.  I kind of gave up on using them after many unpleasant experiences.  Jordan says it’s mainly that the Starbucks nearest where we live is notably poor in service.  He likes the one in the center of town, and so when I received the email with the gift card, not only did I ask for Jordan’s help in accessing it, but I suggested he take it.  He put it on his Starbucks card.

Like most parents, I like it when somebody does something nice for my children, so from that angle, the gift card token was nice even if it was more in line with my child’s tastes.  And given our financial relationship, I do benefit in some way when Jordan receives Starbucks money on a gift card.  And, to be fair, it was only meant to be a token, not compensation, so there’s no saying it wasn’t helpful enough.

So there we are, enough of us apparently complained enough to get heard by the Senior Vice President for Consumer Marketing at The New York Times and receive something for all the missing and late newspapers.  But it doesn’t make me break out into a smile the way seeing the flock of robins alight in the rosebush in front of the Buddha statue in my backyard.  I think they are eating the rose hips.  There are certainly a lot of these robins.  Some of them also stand in the snow and stretch upwards to reach the food, kind of like the rabbits reaching up to eat the leaves on the bush during the summer.  That sort of treat makes me smile without thinking about it.


A view with birds in the trees

December 15, 2014

My mother really enjoyed her backyard at her home in New Jersey.  It had a patch of woods behind it and she had a lot of birds in her yard.  She enjoyed that, watching them out the large picture windows in the living room and dining room, and out of the smaller windows in the kitchen.

While there is a large tree in view of her apartment windows up here in Massachusetts, it certainly is not nearly as rich a view for birdwatching.  But her window and view from her room in the nursing and rehabilitation center are more like what she had in NJ.  The woods are deeper and slightly further from her window, but there are birds all the time.  I even saw a hawk yesterday.  I think it’s conservation land.  The occupational therapist told me today about a pond nearby that is nice to walk around.

So when the doctor started talking today about whether my mother will eventually want hospice care there, I thought, “Well, it would give her a nice view.”  We’ll have to see when the time comes.

Eight swans (1 juvenile), a heron and some geese

October 26, 2014

That’s what I saw at the Res late this afternoon.  It was so nice to see a bunch of water fowl back in residence.  The water level was not as low as I think it’s been already this season.  But there are more birds now nonetheless.

They’re back!

September 22, 2014

At least some of them are, that is birds at the Res.

The water level is markedly lower, and I saw two herons just now.

Maybe avian word has gotten out that conditions are improved.

I also saw two turtles sunning themselves on a rock protruding from the water.

Absence of water fowl

September 20, 2014

I have seen very few water fowl on the reservoir for months now.  I have no idea why.

It is true that there is invasive plant growth on part of the water’s surface, even though they removed a bunch of it earlier.  And it’s only very recently that they began to lower the water level in the reservoir for the season.

There was also some sort of overflow of some sort of yuck into the reservoir in the spring, I think it was, which I learned about when I reported to the Friends of the Reservoir (or whatever they’re called) seeing dead fish.

Anyway, there are no swans, virtually no geese or ducks (maybe a handful on the swimming beach?).  No heron or cormorant.  It’s kind of eery.

I am hoping that with a lower water level, the birds will return.

I do see fish swimming around.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Owls and hawks

September 1, 2014

I saw some feathers yesterday, on the ball field I cross on my way to the Arlington Reservoir from the bike path.  I saw a few fluffy ones on my way in to the Res, and they had some faint horizontal striping.  On the way back, I saw a stiffer feather, white with dark brown definite stripes.

I am not much of a birder.  I like what I like, I enjoy what I like, I get excited over something that strikes me as wonderful, but I don’t know that much.

I suspect the feathers I saw were from an owl, but I don’t know.

It got me thinking about hawks and owls and their real and perceived differences.  Why are owls associated with wisdom and hawks with predation?  Owls kills small animals, too.  Maybe owls really are smart(er), the way poodles are smart(er) compared to most other dogs.

But that musing stood me in good stead when I read a news comment last night about the political hawks clamoring for (U.S. involvement in) war (in Iraq and Syria).   I expressed the wish that they develop the wisdom attributed to owls.  I added “and to Athena” since the comment (by Rima Regas) I was responding to had mentioned the Hydra of Greek mythology.

Nothing like a leitmotif to give a little coherence to a slow holiday weekend.



April 23, 2014

This caught my attention for many reasons, some more obvious than others.  It’s about a red-tailed hawk that died, one town over, and a woman named Moses who cared.  For me, the soundtrack is “Reunion Hill.”

Three swans a-resting

January 21, 2014

There were nine swans at the res today.  The res is partially iced-over, but there is some open water, especially near where water from a brook flows into it.

They seemed to be grouped in sets of three.  One group was napping, their long necks gracefully folded back onto their backs while they floated in the water.  One of these was obviously a youthful swan, as it had many dark feathers.  For a while it seemed to be awake, with its head up and stretching its wings a bit, but then it, too, assumed the dozing posture.

I think another group of three also included a juvenile, but the third group seemed to be all white in feather color.  One of those was actually standing on some ice.

I was happy to be able to walk all the way around the res today — I wasn’t sure how packed down the path would be, how icy from refrozen melting it might have become, and, therefore, slippery.  There was even a jogger.  But no ice hockey going on down below on the ice — I imagine the ice isn’t sturdy enough right now.  We’re supposed to get another snowstorm in the next day or two, and after it, some more really cold weather, I think.  Then I suspect the swans will be gone again and the hockey players will be back.

Birds, dinosaurs, and Jonathan Franzen

January 9, 2014

I read this while waiting for a meeting with an accountant this morning:

But I think that really, in the history of the planet, there have been two kinds of amazing animal developments. One is us–in terms of totally transforming things–and the dinosaurs were the other. And the birds are what became of dinosaurs. The dinosaurs retooled instead of lumbering around, crashing around, earthbound. They got all light and they got feathers, truly one of the remarkable adaptations in the history of evolution.

It’s from an interview with Jonathan Franzen in Audubon Magazine from April of last year.

I ought to visit with the number crunching set more often.

Well, I was so excited to read someone relate humans and dinosaurs to each other in a way that makes sense to me (I sometimes think of it myself in terms half-siblings, as if dinosaurs and humans are earth’s children from different marriages) — and then relate it to birds and a (human) affinity or love for birds!   Wow.  We try to become light and airy in our thinking or meditating — in our mental processes — the dinosaurs achieved it physically.

Now I want to read some of Franzen’s work — I am hoping to enjoy the way his mind works in his fiction, too.

Geese on the ice

November 26, 2013

At the res this morning, there was ice all the way across the water.  Nevertheless, there were a whole lot of geese flocked together in the middle.  I realized they were walking on the (frozen) water, or sitting on it.  Clearly they couldn’t get to their usual food through the ice, and I wondered that they stayed.  It didn’t look comfortable for them, either.

They didn’t stay.  They left, in four groups of a fair number of birds each, they took off serially and headed off, all the groups in the same direction, but spaced by a few minutes in between in their departures.  They started low above the water and then lifted up and headed over a field and then up higher and away, probably above and beyond the trees in the distance.

It was kind of cool, because it looked like they had an organized plan, the way they took off serially in groups, with the same flight pattern and apparent flight plan, but I don’t know how conscious of any organized plan they were.