Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31: June bugs

June bugs bounce off screens
in the velvet dark,
my only company.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30: Run

First run in a few months, could only manage about a mile. But I had to start somehow. Today was spring's first very warm day--in the 80s--and the only bird heard was a cardinal blurting out his staccato song at day's end.

As I jog slowly
down the busy roadside,
I step on deer tracks.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

May 29: Rain again

After a brief respite from rain and drizzle, wet weather returns. I didn't have the heart to stop the jay from stealing peanuts from the bird feeder this afternoon, it looked so wet and miserable. A bit like my state of mind. The grey squirrel, however, still had to go.

Bedraggled blue jay,
I won't shoo you from my feeder
this time.

May 28: Spruce forest

Walking on my favorite trail through Cathedral Woods, the path soft, well-padded with spruce needles and thick, bright moss, rotting stumps of fallen spruces and cones rolling underfoot. From beyond the dense wall of spruces, long ethereal song of the Winter Wren. This is a magic place. No wonder the children build fairy houses here.

Kinglet's high-pitched song
spills down like rolling cones
from the spruce tops.

May 27: Dead bird

Some migrating birds get this far in their journey and still don't make it. Today a dead kingbird was found on a beach. We could tell by its prominent breastbone, sharp through its soft feathers, that the bird had completely depleted its fat stores. It had flown thousands of miles from South America this spring, only to starve in the fog on a small Maine island.

The kingbird wasn't the only dead bird found. But the other casualties, a Canada Warbler and two yellowthroats found in the middle of a trail, were victims of cats--a fate somehow even more tragic than simple depletion and exhaustion.

Dead kingbird in hand--
sad discovery of sharp bones,
hidden red crown.

May 26: Birds on the beach

Monhegan. Days of rain and fog have grounded migrating songbirds, forcing them to forage in the wrack on the beach for food to get them through until they can continue their flight northward. Colorful redstarts flitted like butterflies on the sand, hopped around at our feet.

Suspecting this kind of situation, our friend Derek had brought mealworms to share. The birds were so hungry that they overcame their usual shyness and ate them right out of our hands. Even flycatchers were chasing mealworms tossed in the air.

I can barely feel it,
this small bird
feeding in my hand.

Wet and bedraggled American Redstart resting
Redstart with a mealworm

Derek feeds a redstart mealworms from his hand

Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 25: Flowering trees

Drive around now and everywhere white and pink flowering apple, cherry, and crabapple trees shine amid the surrounding green leaves, veritable clouds of flowers. Up close, the rain has released their redolent fragrances, each tree its own bottle of fresh spring perfume. Old apple trees appear in the most unexpected places, reminding us of a forest's former life as a field. And even the dullest front lawn is transformed by the presence of one tree in bloom.

Petals scattered by rain--
sidewalk a black canvas
for spring's wild art.

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24: Continuing rain

A curtain of water makes more vivid the green tapestry of the spring trees. Clouds and mist soften the contours of the landscape, create a background of grey and white against which the trees shine even more brightly. A stand of beech trees, waving chartreuse leaves larger than hands, is almost psychedelic in the fog. Birds are hard to spot in this weather--who has the patience to stand long in the rain, vision obscured by water dripping on binoculars?--but still they sing. Dry inside, I listen to hear them over the rain.

Rain drips off the roof,
its rhythm punctuating
robin's late day song.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23: Downtown bird

Walking to my car in downtown Camden tonight after enjoying pizza with friends, I was a little surprised to hear a Black-throated Green Warbler singing his buzzy song in the handful of trees in the tiny Village Green.

Over traffic hum,
over the spatter of rain--
one warbler singing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22: Birds in fog

Sorry, I've been slipping up on the haiku-a-day lately. These early mornings birding followed by busy work days don't help my creative energy at day's end. Nor does being on an island with poor Internet connectivity, as I was last weekend and will be this coming weekend. But I'm never gone for long!


This morning, I led a bird walk at Beech Hill Preserve in Rockport. Yes, it was pouring. Yes, we all got soaked. But there's something so invigorating about hearing thrushsong in the misty distance as we pause on the muddy trail. Or seeing a towhee looming in the fog, its striking black, white, and rufous patterning barely discernable, his song magnified somehow by the moisture in the air.

Blueberry flowers drip rain.
Magnified by fog,
towhee sings loudly.

Eastern Towhee. Photo: Brian Willson.

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20: Apple tree

Boughs laden with blossom,
fallen tree's trunk's
already cut and split.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 16: Maple shower

I looked out the back window a minute ago and stopped in my tracks. Big drops were falling. Was it raining? Snowing? Are those drops yellow? Stymied, and worried about my eyes, I stepped out the front door. Nothing was falling on the front walk. Around back, however, those strange drops, still falling. A very localized storm, apparently. And quiet. As I walked under the big maple, the drops began to fall softly onto my shirt: a shower of yellow maple flowers, scattered by a warm breeze.

Maple showers flowers
all over the uncut lawn,
celebrating its greening.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15: Ducktrap River Preserve

Led a bird walk this morning on the Ducktrap River Preserve in Lincolnville. While watching warblers forage in the poplars along the edge of a restored gravel pit, we heard a Scarlet Tanager singing in the distance, that raspy melody distinctive despite the trees between us and the bird. Further up the trail in the hemlock grove, two Barred Owls flew together from tree to tree, hooting like crazed monkeys, particularly delighting the little boy who'd joined our group. And down by the river, the long, bubbling, buzzy song of the tiny Winter Wren tells us of the stone walls winding through the woods, marking boundaries of former fields.

Trees where fields once were.
Across the green distance
red tanager sings.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14: Vultures aloft

Emd of day: clouds roll in.
High over the mountain
eight vultures soaring.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13: Sunset

Home from the pizza place.
Sunset's pink reflection
flowing downriver.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12: After the rain

The rain prevented my mother and I from taking a post-Mother's Day brunch walk this morning, but it stopped in time for my husband and I to get in a pre-dinner walk this evening. As we walked around the neighborhood, each house gave off its own odor: woodsmoke from those trying to take the edge off the evening chill; cigarette smoke from some; the scent of damp crabapple blossoms from others; and the fragrance of mown grass from many.

Wet, scattered petals
and sodden clumps of cut grass.
The calm of settling dusk.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11: Wave

After the rain stopped late this morning, dozens of migrating birds moved through the trees in our back yard. I stood on the violet-dappled lawn and watched them for almost two hours as they flitted and fed in the new leaves above the river. Yellow-rumped Warblers were the most numerous and least shy, often flying very near me and posing very visibly. The chorus of the songs of all those birds rose to a cacophony at the peak of the wave. I let the sound wash over me as I followed each movement in the trees with my binoculars.

Heard again after a year--
Magnolia Warbler's sweet song
rises from the chorus.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10: Greening

A couple of days of rain and mist, and the trees in our backyard have really greened up and leafed out.

Much-needed rain falls.
Yard becomes a leafy stage
through which one crow flies.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 9: Massage

I got a much-needed, very rigorous deep tissue massage this afternoon at Beauty Mark Day Spa, and walked out the door afterward, into the foggy spring evening, feeling sore and a bit dazed.

After the massage,
fog blanketed my shoulders,
a weightless burden.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8: Pastoral

Crow calmly grazes,
surrounded by dandelions
in the green grass.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6: Afternoon song

Soothing, somehow--
breeze through the screen,
robin's rollicking, sunlit song.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5: Alewives

A friend and I visited the historic fish ladder in Damariscotta Mills this morning at high tide and then again this afternoon at low tide. We were mesmerized by the undulating masses of thousands of fish, as they struggled past the gauntlet of gulls up the watery staircase and through a mill pond to eventually reach their spawning grounds in Damariscotta Lake.

Alewives head upstream
in swirling fin mandalas--
oh, to be that sure.

Self-portrait with fish

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 4: Mayflowers

I spent several hours tramping around the greening woods of the Ducktrap River Preserve this morning. Some first spring sightings of warblers, including a beautiful sunlit view of a singing Blackburnian amid the hemlocks, and some first wildflowers, like this Trailing Arbutus.

Commonly called mayflowers, Trailing Arbutus flowers are often tucked away under its big leathery leaves. My grandmother, who would have been 99 in a few days if she were still alive, loved these best because they always bloomed in time for her birthday. And if you get down on your hands and knees and put your face close, you can smell their subtle, sweet fragrance.

It's a bit like prayer--
head down on the forest floor
sniffing the mayflower.

Trailing Arbutus blooming on the banks of the tea-brown Ducktrap River

Friday, May 3, 2013

May 3: Fern heads

Tightly curled fern--
fuzzy fist punching the spring sky,
beating it blue.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2: In my herb garden

Tulip leaves push through
the center of a sage plant--
power of yearning.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1: May Day

May Day, or Beltane--the pagan holiday celebrating the fertility of the verdant earth. This morning a Red-bellied Woodpecker was chirring repeatedly in the yard while I ate breakfast. Now a flicker's staccato whinny, cardinal's sputtering, and always the titmouse's incessant, loud whistles. The lawn greens in this vernal sunlight, bulbs bloom, buds swell. So much going on out there right now, the "season for loving."

Woodpecker calling
with uplifting urgency:
May Day! I need you!