Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30: Downtown Hawks

For a lunch meeting on this beautiful, blue sky day, we didn't want to be cooped up inside, so we brought our sandwiches to the bright grass of Camden's Harbor Park. The ruffled harbor glittered before us in the sun and wind, its docks all in order, waiting for boats. Unwrapped from winter plastic, the windjammer fleet was waiting, too. A lone sailor hung from a seat high in the rigging of one of these grand old ships, helping to ready her for summer cruises.

While we ate and talked, a song sparrow serenaded us with his sincere song from a bush a few feet away. The wind gusted in our hair, and every now and then a townie pigeon would sail overhead. It took a few seconds to register that one of these "pigeons" was, in fact, a hawk. Even as it zipped by on the wind, its flap-flap-glide flight pattern revealed it to be an accipiter; its size indicated sharp-shinned hawk. Cool.

A few minutes later, another one cruised overhead. Then, a bit distant, another hawk, bigger than the sharpies, with a dark pattern under the wings--perhaps a red-tailed hawk? It was too high and fast for me to get a good enough look to be sure, though a veteran hawk watcher could have identified it from twenty times the distance.

Later, as I was running an errand in the center of town, I looked up to see an osprey flying steadily northward. Of course, ospreys nest in Camden Harbor, so this may have been a local bird heading to the lake for some fishing. But it certainly struck me as good fortune to see four hawks in the heart of Camden in about an hour's time. I guess that's part of the reason why we live here, that we have such opportunities. As if the shining water of the river pouring into the harbor and the mountain backdrop bearing a soft mosaic of spring's first leaves and buds weren't enough.

Embraced by the wind,
migrant hawks sail over boats
whose wings are still trimmed.

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