Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 20: Hush

Peters Hill, Arnold Arboretum, 6:55am-7:45am
mostly cloudy, nippy

Somebody cut the grass on Peters Hill. It's not so rugged a walk as last time, and my dew-proof rain-boots also help.

The sky, cloud-stuffed, hides the actual horizon, revealing alternate horizons: a good thing since I am late this morning. Through small moments of clearing I get to experience multiple sunrises.

12 o'clock (to use birder/hunter directional parlance), straight ahead of me, I see a little opening in the pastel-dense clouds, all red and a-glow. It seems to be silhouetting downtown buildings, but no, that's the wrong direction: it's actually a cloud city formed by a closer layer.

At 2 o'clock (to my right) a larger, higher opening is rosy-bright, lighting up scattered puffs and even some blue sky.

I can't remember what happened at 11 o'clock (slightly left), but rest assured it was lovely. Later on I saw a version of the "Glory" sunrise from Harlem in a higher break in the clouds. Clouds, clouds, clouds, I think they are especially diverse at this hour. Often-times the rest of the day seems just dully overcast.

This hill is incredible, just teeming with birdlife. Today's bird landed very close to me, on a short crab-apple tree. I'm desperate to know what kind he was -- there were many like him, all over.

He's small, orange-breasted, with some kind of black striping around the eye, and a tiny tuft of white right over his throat. Good singer, too!

I would guess maybe an oriole, but the pictures didn't match up exactly.

I love how chatty and filled with bird sounds Peters Hill is. Coming up to it feels like arriving at a gigantic family reunion : everyone is busy talking, laughing, and stuffing their faces.

The most dramatic moment of the morning came when the constant din of feeding birds suddenly hushed, like an unexpected, estranged relative suddenly showed up. I heard one "CAAAHHWW" and turned just in time to see a large hawk flapping down, then away.

It was incredible, the quick response and silencing of hundreds and hundreds of birds to this predator. Felt like a moment of truth (the recognition of mortality?). Within seconds the din had picked back up, but I felt changed.

At home, I wanted to recreate this aural experience, since my recorder was off at the time. However, I found that my bird-call repertoire is still way too small to do such a complex scene justice.

So, here is a baby-step: learning one snippet of a call.

The original snippet (from Today's Bird):

My version:


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home