The rain let up Saturday long enough for me to take a walk along the creek and back along the edge of the woods. It's been raining off and on for nearly a week, and the cool, wet weather has put a hold on gardening and other outside work.
The wet grass soaked my shoes and pant legs in no time, leaving me with wet feet and legs. But the cheery song of a male bluebird, perched atop a bluebird house, washed away my thoughts of how wet it was. How nice it is to have two nesting pairs of bluebirds within 200 yards of the house.
As I wound my way through an alder thicket, a catbird scolded me from his hiding place in the thick, leafy branches. The alders gave way to sumac and lush grass as I came to an opening. Suddenly I was startled by the loud snort of a female white-tailed deer. Her angry warning told me there was a new fawn nearby. I froze in my tracks, and then slowly moved out and around her, trying to let her know that she has nothing to fear. She watched my every move as I walked away. I didn't see the fawn, but I knew it was curled up motionless in the grass. In the past two weeks, several people have told me they have seen a new spring fawn, one of nature's precious sights.
Several barn swallows scan the skies for flying insects, high above the creek. The fly back and forth, turning sharply on long, forked tails and narrow, pointed wings. I see two of them land on the dark soil of the garden. They pick up tiny bits of wet soil and fly off to where their nest is being built, on a beam just inside the open shed.
Also hunting in the sky above the yard are several tree swallows and a few chattering chimney swifts. When the weather is cool, as it has been, insects are hard to find. The swallows and swifts may have to climb to dizzying heights to find their prey, or they may resort to landing on the ground to find ants, small spiders, or whatever insects are edible.
A beautiful male pileated woodpecker chatters loudly as he flies across the road and lands against the trunk of a tree just inside the woods. His bright red crest and crow-sized black and white body is unmistakable. He moves around the tree trunk, then calls loudly again, flies to the forest floor, and begins flicking wet, dead leaves aside to uncover hidden insects and worms. After he finds some, he flies off through the woods, chattering. His mate is probably nestled on her clutch of eggs, deep in the hollow trunk of a large tree. The cool, wet weather means she must stay on her clutch and wait for the male to bring her something to eat.
Late spring is a time for natural life to reproduce, and to provide for one another. As May gives way to June and spring warms to summer, new beginnings are all around us.
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