Just Another Magic Morning

Well, I know that there was a song sometime in the past four decades that began with almost this title. I think the last word was Monday not morning. I also know, that once again, it is morning. And that is magic. It is morning, early, before the earth has tilted sunward in this hemisphere, thus it is night-dark. We are in the delicate privacy of predawn.

Yesterday, bicycling on yet another surprisingly warm (“record breaking” again, as so many weather events these days, these years) day, I was trying to count Herring Gulls perched on rock outcrops that line the Merrimack River both ahead of and after the dam at the Mammoth Street bridge. The number and, indeed, the girth of these rock outcrops varies depending on two major factors–weather (rain abundance or dearth), and humans (builders of dams and water-powered “power” stations and, of necessity because of the dams that have reconfigured the shape of the watercourse, fish ladders). I finally estimated 50 and left it at that. Fifty Herring Gulls and one Great Black Backed Gull. Eight Double-crested Cormorants-two of which sat body still but heads turning now left now right, in unison, in opposition, nonstop. Twenty Mallards, quacking, floating, or perching, the males with particularly deep purple heads, the females regal in their multi-shades of brown with a purple patch peeking out of their folded wings. A family of nine Canada Geese cruising east to west against the water flow in the center lane of the river.

Cormorants near bottom right of picture, at this point coordinated in their looking left
But here, near bottom center, one cormorant looks right and one looks left

Overhead and a little to the north of the river, four Turkey Vultures wheeled. Oh, who had they in their sights? I did not, I could not have, nor would have wanted to, pedal fast enough to reach the location to see. Had I want to I would have had to become airborne like the witch who frightened Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Or, these days, launched a drone.

Two of four Turkey Vultures

I would not mind having wings, at will, maybe not to carry about all day and night every day and night, maybe portable and stowable, but ever available and easy to don because I would not mind riding the air.

As I headed southeast from the river, on the way home, fairly low overhead a Northern Harrier flew; he was working, glide, pump, pump, pump, glide, angle downward a bit, soar, pump, pump, pump, glide. I did not follow him either. Nor did I photograph him, as I was pedaling alongside a heavily traveled street by then. I think I was passing Dunkin on one side and Taco Bell on the other at that moment.

And as I released my pedals and coasted into our driveway, a Coopers Hawk, caught in the act of perching on the back fence and casing out the songbird haven of the backyard, saw me, gasped-eyes widening measurably, and lifted up and off.

Within three minutes, after I had taken off my helmet, stowed my bicycle, and stepped up onto the back porch, two Mourning Doves, three House Sparrows, and a Hairy Woodpecker returned to the feeders and the grass filled with myriad tasty morsels. Even before I had the back door open, I heard a White Breasted Nuthatch announcing his imminent arrival from the west, and a Northern Cardinal called out from the arborvitae on the east.

My avian day. Yesterday.

May your today be bright.

Author: Kate Hemenway

I like to explore, to observe. I like to be within what is around. There is always something to wonder about and to ponder. There is always something.. My favorite ways to get to places are bicycling and walking; or reading, or thinking, or asking. Please feel free to ask back, as I continue to wonder out loud, express joy or concern, or, sometimes, talk through my hat.

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