Take a second look …
The yellow eyes of the Saw-whet Owl are so startling, their gaze so steady, that we tend to ignore everything else. It’s easy to miss the trace of blood just below the owl’s bill, a smear of something that changes the way we look at the bird, that deepens our understanding of it. What discoveries might we make if we took that second look more often, if we trained ourselves to see?
Well, there went May in its hurried fashion: the height of spring migration and the busiest month in the garden allotment. Here are highlights from that first field of activity. Those from the garden will come later. I keep a list each year—part of a friendly rivalry with a fellow-birder—of the spring warblers I see. This year the total was about average at 24, and the undoubted star the Kentucky Warbler that inhabited the Wet Woods on the Leslie Street Spit for a full week. I had to go twice to see it. First on a Friday afternoon, when I … Read moreRead More
I was walking the Leslie Street Spit last December with binoculars in hand but no camera, when I found a Saw-whet Owl sitting in a spruce. The bird surprised me for two reasons. First, its size. All Saw-whets are tiny—on average, about eight inches tall—but this was the smallest, most fragile specimen I’d ever seen. Second, its position, uncharacteristically perched at the end of a branch, in the open, rather than close to the trunk, within the tree’s sheltering shadows. Saw-whets are known for their ability to disappear within an evergreen: or to insert themselves into the thickest … Read moreRead More
I’ve been thinking a lot about death and taxes. Death, because I had open-heart surgery last September and a stroke (minor, but still) the first week of January. Taxes, because every year at this time, I deliver a packed 9-x-12 envelope to my extraordinary accountant, who works her miracles in an office across the street from Allan Gardens. Since I freelance for a living, my financial situation changes from year to year. Bad years, my approach to the accountant’s office is reluctant, it’s a struggle to place one foot in front of the other. Good years, I stride down Sherburne … Read moreRead More