All posts tagged Birdwatching

One must wonder whether wildlings appreciate the grandeur of their surroundings, apart from their innate connection to their world. This grouse and another hen were foraging amongst the autumn foliage shortly before sunset ignited the mountainside’s already smoldering hues, as seen in the photo below a short while later. Did she pause for a moment of wonder at day’s last flourish, as did I? Life in the wild isn’t easy.  For the creatures who inhabit them, scenes like these are sandwiched between the much more frequent paroxysms of the elements, the predators lurking where least expected, the seasons of scarcity, and the burdens of parenthood. (Grouse can lay up to fifteen eggs at a time!) Do the rigors of life render these fleeting moments the sweeter, even for a grouse, or wholly irrelevant? Whichever it may be, that there are creatures in a world where the sublime is as natural a fact as the toilsome is somehow comforting.

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Fleeting splendour sets the alpine autumn slopes ablaze.
Granite Mountain Trail, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
(ancestral lands of the Snoqualmie),
October 01, 2021.

© 2021 Anthony Colburn

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Perhaps I should have felt apprehension as these vultures swept about me, circling, dipping into the valley below, then swooping upward again, near enough that dark shadows crossed my path and I could hear the whoosh of feathers as they banked overhead. But no, I thrilled at this unexpected meeting of their world with mine; after all, they had no interest in the living.  Despite their rustled silence, their presence was palpable.  What did these phantasmic enigmas signal at this crossroads of human and avian?  As hideous as they are to our eyes, vultures are not entirely unlike us. These were quite social: always near one another, never squabbling as songbirds do, and even engaging in what could have been a bit of small talk between themselves. When evening fell, their roost became a scene of domestic tranquillity as they settled in for the night, preening leisurely, gazing out upon the same islandtop vista I’d climbed to view, and nodding off. In the end, it was I who left the birds of death to their timeless idylls.

© 2021 Anthony Colburn

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Gray, or, Canada jay
(Perisoreus canadensis)
Mount Si Trail,
Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area, Washington (ancestral lands of the Snoqualmie)
December 10, 2017.

Good day to you, good day, Gray Jay!

What do you, can you say today?

Not like your cousins, not at all,

who shriek and scold and fairly brawl;

not like you, no, to chatter so,

like Blue Jay, Green Jay, Brown Jay — no!

But circling heedlessly — it seems —

you scorn their noisy, plotting schemes

and flitting sprightly to and fro,

and twitt’ring slightly as you go,

with no more word, no “May I, please?”

you leave the trees with swooping ease

and, sidling up with subtle tack,

you snatch my snack behind my back!

So tell me, tell me, now, Gray Jay —

what do you, can you say today?

© 2016 Anthony Colburn