Thursday, August 12, 2010

August 12: TVs on the Tower

Yesterday on a hike up Ragged Mountain we emerged from the woods onto the rocky ledges of the ridge to the sight of four turkey vultures (known in birder parlance as TVs) soaring past at eye level. They then made such a close pass overhead that I wondered if they could smell the tuna sandwiches in our backpacks. Like us, they seemed to be enjoying the beautiful day, tilting and circling on the thermals--the hot air rising off the mountain--with what looked like acrobatic joy above the summit. TVs are skillful fliers, and to watch one at such close range makes one imagine leaping off the rocks, arms spread wide, to give it a try. It's worked for me in dreams, at least.

A radio/communications tower stands at attention rather incongruously on the otherwise rugged and wild heights of Ragged. I couldn't help but laugh when I observed one of the vultures soar close to the tower and then land on it. Of course its many crossbars makes an ideal perch, and at one point as we skirted the ridge line I counted eight vultures perched at various levels on the tower and more flying nearby. It looked like they were making the most of this human-made structure that had sprouted on their mountaintop. I guess vultures are opportunistic in more ways than just as carrion eaters. I admire their adaptability.

Mountaintop tower--
to us, ugly; to vultures,
a convenient perch.

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