Stirrings at Edge of the Earth

(2 short short stories)
March 29, 2002
    Trying to keep up with the current activity here at Edge of the Earth Road is much akin to watching a movie on "fast forward."  It can be done but a lot is missed.  That's what I find so exasperating and at the same time exhilarating about this time of the year.  At the same time the birds are all "doing their thing," the flora is creeping into bloom, butterflies making appearances, insects sneaking out of their cover, and the frogs practicing for their late summer chorus.  My journal each day now runs two pages instead of the usual winter-time half page.

     The only two birds I've found nesting here so far are the Chickadees who have taken up residence in the bluebird box on our welcoming sign and the E. Phoebes who chose again the platform above the door of our garage apartment.  Interesting about the Phoebes, they tore up an old nest out at the gazebo and used some of the material for the new nest.  Also, there is a second pair of Phoebes here but I have yet to find where they've chosen to cohabit.  Have wit-nessed several territorial disputes between the couples so think their nest is nearby.  Each morning, after I raise the garage door for my wife to leave for work, invariably one of the Phoebes flies in.  At first I thought it was because they had built a nest inside but as I watch, he only flies through the rafters, past the storage racks, under the work table, and then back to the outside.  Definitely think he's "insecting."  The garage door stays open all day and until late in the evening just to be sure.

     Still have 200-300 Goldfinches, 30-50 Pine Siskins, and a smattering of House Finches.  The lone Purple Finch showed up again yesterday.  The other usual fowl attendees are present though not in the numbers they were.  Have also been invaded by a plethora of Common Grackles who at least have the decency (so far) to limit their visits to short intervals before moving on.  A Sharpie keeps everyone alert with occasional lightning strike fly-throughs.

     Wild Turkeys are "gobbling" in the pasture west of us.  The dogs had obviously never heard the "gobble" before and grow quite alert at the sound.  Actually got to see the turkeys the other day cross the pasture.  Three of them, a male and two hens.  Quite deliberate in their trek across open ground.

     The Raccoons are here each night in full force.  They clean out the last of the daily feed from the bird feeders, finish off the dog food in the bowls, and work feverishly at getting open the suet feeders.  The rascals have been very successful in the past but I now think I have solved the problem.  I bought these little briefcase locks and placed them on each suet holder.  So far, so good--but I know the masked, bushy-tailed thieves are men-tally addressing my effort and an unexpected assault could come at any time.  Still, it just makes one feel good to be able to outwit a Racoon, even if for but a day.  Now if I can just remember where I put the key to those locks.

Ah, blessed spring.  Welcome!

    Well, since it was Good Friday, I decided to spend a good Friday.  Birding!  Am I ever glad that I did.

     First Scissortail of the year just a mile out of downtown Lexington.  A mile further offered up the first two Barn Swallows at a new South Canadian tributary.  Allow me to explain.  A prominent rancher in the area decided he would like a new water source to run through his thousands of acres.  He rerouted a section of the Canadian River.  The powers that be said, "You can't do that!"  He said, "expletives deleted."  The tributary is still there and at it, I found several shore-birds, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, and now the first Barn Swallows of the year.  I'm a happy man.  However, if the tide of public opinion turns against said rerouter, I shall be the first to lay the torch to his pyre.  It's just the kind of guy I am.

     A mile later the first Black Vulture of the year hovered.  Down another road I found a Red-shouldered Hawk on her nest.  She was obviously quite upset at my driving slowly past said nest site and let loose with a com-plaintive series of calls.  A male quickly joined her and ungracefully fled the area of nuptial bliss.

     A bit further down from the irritable Red-shouldered Hawks, seven Wild Turkeys meandered around a small pond.  I've seen more Wild Turkeys this year than any year of my recordkeeping.

     Blooming is the Redbud, Dogwood, and Wild Plum.  New butterflies are the Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch, and Spotted Purple.  Found a bed of Red Ants that decided the time to forage had arrived.

     Three hundred yards from our house at Edge of the Earth Rd. is Buckhead Creek.  A Louisiana Waterthrush appeared along with a second gathering of Green-winged and Blue-winged Teals.  300 yards.  Hum....... The Great Backyard Bird Count allows for this distance to be counted as "yardbirds."  Reminds of George Bernard Shaw who once was invited upon the stage after one of his plays.  The applause from the audience was deafening but over the sound of the applause came one lone voice.  "Shaw, I know you're a fake!"  Shaw turned toward the lone voice, raised his arms toward him, and said, "Yes, I am."  He then cast his arm around the theatre and added, "but who are we against so many?"

     Therefore, if any such august group as the Great Backyard Bird Count "captures" the Louisiana Water-thrush, Blue-winged, and Green-winged Teals as yardbirds, who am I to argue with them?

     Berlin, eat your heart out!

     On the way back to the house, I was listening to "Science Friday" on NPR and a discussion of new studies about the mind and where fear originates and "sears" into the memory.  As I drove down this one lonely dirt road, four White-tailed deer bolted from the roadside brush.  Almost had a heart attack! but at least I know now which part of the brain caused it.

     Good Friday, friends, and good birding.

<< back to homepage
<< to Phil's birding page
<< back to EOER stories
Edge of the Earth Rd. Journal
(c) Copyrighted by Phil Floyd 2002