Tag: pine warbler


Autumn Leaves

11
October

This week was a St. Martin’s summer, which passed like a remembered dream.  I felt only that it was very gentle, very comfortable, that the air was happy, and my friends content.  Conditions so perfect must needs presage the ending of our time; but this certainty, because of its being unchallenged by any rebellious hope, served only to deepen the quiet of the autumnal present.  There was no thought or care at all.  My mind was as near stilled those days as ever in my life.

The gingko tree in my back yard is starting to turn.  The leaves are barely fringed with brown, or sometimes yellow.  Today, I saw what I think was a pine warbler in it.  Looking to get at the feeder, but it was ultimately too shy.  I tried to be quieter, but it wouldn’t return.  Sort of yellowish all over the front and back, with grey wings with wingbars.  I thought the wingbars would be definitive, but nothing is ever definitive.

Looking at the brief glimpse.  Is it a glimpse you look at?  Maybe not, maybe you look at the bird and get a glimpse.  So the glimpse is “of the bird”.  But in any case it isn’t enough.  I am not trained very well.  My habit is to let more knowledgeable people tell me the truth.  I drift into that habit and get comfortable, and then I wonder how are these people so smart?  How do they know all these things.  We were visiting the Cahaba recently, and there wasn’t much action, but eventually something flew in front of the car that looked big, and interesting, so I stopped, and we began to hunt.  Before long, we see it.  “A great blue” I say, but then no.  “A little blue, but rough”.  Oh, hell, get the book.  Our inanimate reference.  The book will settle it, but it doesn’t.  There is the great blue, and we have seen many great blues and this is not that.  A Little Blue maybe?  Well, it doesn’t look like that either, but again, maybe a young one?  The young bird is often the saving of the young birder.

Getting despondent.  Kathy is patient, but I am starting to suspect she suspects.  Well, I turn the page, and what?  A Yellow Crowned Night Heron.  Yes, that is it.  A perfect match.  Definitive, we can call it.  With just the turn of a page.  Something nice about turning the page.  Maybe that is how they do it, turn the page enough times, they become familiar.  I make a promise to myself to study more pages.  Is that how they do it?  Not magic.  Turn the page.

Turning the pages does not really help much with the warbler in my gingko tree.  It flits and is gone, and I have tried in the brief moment to memorize every characteristic that I think might be identifying.  And so I have my memory, my bug in the box.  I try to compare that to the book.   Pine Warbler seems right, though it would be a migrant.  But isn’t this the time of year for migrants?

Sally told me once “Gingko trees in the fall just turn yellow overnight.”  But that isn’t really true.  Not of this one in my yard.  Which means, not true.  I have been watching my tree turn ever so slowly, brown yellow.  Some leaves are already dropping.  They will never be yellow, at least not on the tree.  I suppose that Sally must have been looking at some other Gingko.  A hasty generalization perhaps, on her part.  Not like cooking spaghetti.  My tree is different, and obeys some slower rule.  I think the gingko is a very ancient sort of tree, but I don’t know that.  I know this one, because I can sit an have a cup of coffee with it in the morning.  It is not so ancient, and it grows mostly on the south side because that is where the sun is. Tree, apparently, grow towards the sun.  On the top the branch of some other tree fell on it and broke the very top branch.  (Is is a branch on the very top, or is that just the top of the tree?)  Now it has several branches coming out of the top.  It looks better really, to me.  And it had a pine warbler in it the other day.

Happy enough with a pine warbler in the gingko tree.  And it is autumn after all.  That is the time of migrants.  And after all, it is just a bird.  Someday, it will be back, and someone smarter than me will tell me what it really is.  I will be happy to be corrected.  Though anyone who sees me when it happens will think:  “He is not happy to be corrected.”  I will refer them to this entry.  I said it once.  I will be happy.  Sometimes the correction is just what you need, or want.

Sometimes, all you want is to be wrong.  Or for somebody to be wrong.  And sometimes that is what you get.  Lucky, sort of.  So, we will enjoy our fall days with our migrants and our fading trees, and look forward to raking the leaves into the compost pile, and see what develops.  And pray.

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