Spring mulches on

March 1, 2009

We’re at the center of some kind of bird convention.

It’s the sort of thing that happens every now and then in nature, that makes one feel as though something was going on and we missed the memo.

We live south of the historic town of Gettysburg, just above an old dam on Marsh Creek, which flows into the Monocacy River just over the Mason-Dixon Line in Maryland, and thence to the Potomac and the Atlantic. The pond here is about 100 feet across, give or take, and generally shallow. It attracts a lot of waterfowl, expecially in the spring and fall, as they make their way north or south during migration.

Fall is best for observing, because the birds tend to show up in clumps, like tour groups waiting for the bus to take them to the next historic site and buffet.

In the spring they tend to straggle back, traveling more at a mosey than a rush, and in smaller groups. They headed south as the leaves were starting to turn and the fields were browning, and they return as snowdrops stand out against the half-inch of snow we had overnight, and as the daffodils shoulder their way through the dark mulch.

Saturday morning it was a lone common merganser chasing fish for its breakfast. I stood watching for awhile holding one of the cats, who was more interested in me making my way to the container where the cat food is kept.

The merganser was only the beginning, the opening act, so to speak.

Later, coffee in hand, I sat at a window and watched as the new pile of mulch destined for the flower beds swarmed with bluejays, a pileated woodpecker tapped its way around the clematis vine that has climbed up the tv and police-scanner antenna tower, and another group of jays and a northern flicker hopped around in the grass, turning over leaves and pecking around in the litter. All together, there must have been 50 birds or more.

Now and then Amanda, the cat-in-charge, would stalk into the yard and disperse them all, something she apparently believes is her sworn duty. Then, when Amanda would return to her usual perch out of the wind, the birds would reconvene.

This morning I had yet another reminder that spring is just around the corner. Sore muscles, and a stiff back. And half of that mulch pile still there.
© 2009 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
“Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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