Saturday, October 9, 2010

Joe Neal's report for October 9, 2010

  • love in the wasteland (Vaughn 9 Oct 2010)‏

12:24 PM
To ARBIRD list discussion, Aubrey Shepherd, Beth Lowrey, BEVERLY MADDOX, Bill Beall, Burnetta Hinterthuer, Chris Kellner, Douglas A. James,, Jacqueline Froelich, Joe Woolbright, Joel Funk, lisa riley, Louise Mann, Lynn Armstrong, Mary Bess Mulhollan, Nancy Harris, Paige Mulhollan, R and M Stauffacher, Shane Woolbright, Susan And Liz, Susan Young, TERRY STANFILL, VINEY, Michelle, Warren Fields
My ambition this morning was to get up to Centerton for sparrows, and maybe a Dunlin, but never made it, waylaid instead by reality. First, it was foggy. Around the time I reached Vaughn the sun was just barely up, and a kind of pink light suffused the fog. I passed an old chicken house, admiring the broad old artistically weathered boards exposed when the tin siding fell off. A big hole that used to be a window was filled with pink light, except for the space occupied by the head of a black and white milk cow. This seemed a promising start.

I still couldn’t see anything across the big fields, but I could hear the Eastern Meadowlark version of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They sang all around (“surround sound” is how they market this, I think), with support from KEE DEE KEE DEE – Killdeers from an invisible, but audible, farm pond. I pulled up right there and listened for a while, thinking I might hear a first of season Western Meadowlark, but didn’t. A few sparrows flushed up on the barbed wire, near enough that I could see them – Savannah Sparrow (2), Grasshopper Sparrow (1).

Still not to Centerton, BUT the day is young, and it’s not so far to “Weedy Estates,” a big flopped subdivision where in the get-rich-quick daze of three years ago, 80 acres were dozed to bare red dirt, streets pushed in, curbed but not paved, forlorn utility hook-ups marooned and deteriorating, plumbing scattered all over the place. So instead of Centerton, I’m headed for Weedy Estates.

The joys of trash dumping in Weedy Estates have been discovered (tires, car parts, yard waste). The unpaved streets are growing gullies. Spaces dozed and flattened for mansionettes are festively decked out in a variety of composities (daisy fleabane, for example), plus poke, persimmon sprouts, and the odd, isolated oak tree. The open country birds obviously love the place. I saw 15 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers carrying on in a fine racket in one tiny tree out in the middle. Enjoying them, I noticed one small bird tail-flipping, then a second, and soon had 2-3 more – Palm Warblers (4-5). Composites sheltered Common Yellowthroats, House Wrens, a Marsh Wren, several Indigo Buntings (including one with a lot of blue), Lincoln’s Sparrow, and other stuff I missed. 

Mentally I took note of the obvious beauties of a seemingly bankrupted subdivision. I summarize as follows: (1) lots of interesting weeds (butterflies and botany); (2) rocky bare dirt (Lark Sparrows); (3) very open (American kestrel); (4) relatively quiet – no lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed eaters, or Harleys; (5) unfinished roads perfect for easy slow-walk sparrow birding; (6) isolated trees great for hawk perches; (7) a moonscape, a wilderness uninhabited as the moon itself; (8) big open weedy fields perfect for Savannah Sparrows – oops! – just saw 3 in one of those dried up composites! (9) scattered poke bushes (there are 2 Palm Warblers!); (10) no street signs, so I make ‘em up as I go: “Scissor-tailed Perch,” “Palm Warbler Poke,” “Kestrel Vista.” Long may they show the way.

It’s up to mid-morning and the illustrious pink fog is gone -- in fact all of the fog is gone. It’s another drop-dead-beautiful fall day. Then, in the warm light, monarchs stir in the low sheltering atmospheres of tall weeds not planned for these 80 acres, but which now belong almost exclusively to them.

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