Posted in Air, Critters, Earth, Eastern Shore, Exploring, Gifts, Life, Maryland, Mindfulness, Nature, Photography, Sky, Spirit, Walking & Wandering, Winter, Wonder

Sojourns

Swan song.
Swan song.

If we learn to read the birds — and their behaviors and vocalizations — through them, we can read the world at large. . . If we replace collision with connection, learn to read these details, feel at home, relax, and are respectful — ultimately the birds will yield to us the first rite of passage: a close encounter with an animal otherwise wary of our presence.

~ Jon Young, What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World

Can you figure out what this is?
Can you figure out what this is?

It is a fine, fine day here on the Eastern Shore.  Even the birds agree.  Thousands of them are out and about and on the move.

Maybe this will help.
Maybe this will help.

I walked out the door this morning and found the air filled with the sight and sound of blackbirds.  I wish I had the right words to describe the thunderous sound of all those wings when they first take flight, and the chatter that goes on when they are sitting in the trees or in the marsh.

There are a few red-winged blackbirds in this bunch.
There are a few red-winged blackbirds in this bunch.

I walked around in circles, following them from the woods near the cemetery to the marsh and back to the woods near the cemetery.  Eventually I became a statue sitting on the steps of the front porch, and the birds rewarded my stillness by spreading out over the front yard.

How do they keep from crashing into each other??
How do they keep from crashing into each other?

Ted Andrews, in his book “Animal Speak,” writes that when the blackbird comes into your life, “you will open to new surprises and to a new understanding of the forces of Nature as they begin to migrate into your life.”

On the move.
On the move.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the language of birds.  Maybe it’s being in this place where so many birds spend the winter or stop by on their way Elsewhere during their spring and fall migrations.  Birds sing, call, mimic, chatter, and alert each other in a variety of ways.  I wonder, sometimes, what it is they talk about.  Do they have discussions about the crazy lady chasing them around with a camera?

The always elusive Blue Jay.
The always elusive Blue Jay.

I don’t know if they grow used to me, or if they have pity on me.  Every now and then they allow me to get a good glimpse, and sometimes even a good shot.  Or maybe they do it just to get me to move on.

Chickadee acrobatics in the marsh grasses.
Chickadee acrobatics in the marsh.

Whatever the case, I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with birds.

Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull

There are occasions when you can hear the mysterious language of the Earth, in water, or coming through the trees, emanating from the mosses, seeping through the under currents of the soil, but you have to be willing to wait and receive.

~ John Hay, The Immortal Wilderness

The tree of life.
The tree of life.  (Edited in Pixlr and Picmonkey.)

I reckon that’s it from the Wabi-Sabi Ranch for today.  Thank you for stopping by and joining me on another ramble.  It is gorgeous here today.  The kind of day that should be spent outdoors.  Join me on the dock in a little while for sunset.  It’s bound to be good.

White-throated Sparrow in the marsh.
White-throated Sparrow in the marsh.

Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂

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Author:

Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, wife, sometime poet, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She finished a 365 commitment to get outside every day in 2011, and has turned it into a lifelong commitment taking one or more walks each day. Robin will continue to share her walks through her words and images on Breezes at Dawn. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are in the midst of renovating the house and property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

27 thoughts on “Sojourns

    1. They don’t seem to hang around here long enough for me to want to turn down the volume, Carol. The large flock was here for about an hour and in a big flutter of wings, they were gone. We’ve had a few stragglers come around since, and I think the red-winged blackbirds are settling in. Now those guys could use some volume control at times! 🙂

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      1. My mistake, Robin, I thought those were red-wings in your photo. That’s what we get, along with the yellow-headed blackbirds, for a few weeks spring and fall. Both can be very loud.

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        1. No mistake at all, Carol. The large flock of blackbirds includes the red-wings. There are a few here and there in the pics. Most of the blackbirds move on, but the red-wings stay behind to make noise. 😀

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  1. What a wonderful sight that must have been. I sometimes watch flocks in flight as they dance about the sky, or gathering about trees at sunset – but I have never seen a huge flock on the ground. What a noise that must have been. [Our blackbirds are very raucous creatures, are yours?]

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    1. They are very noisy indeed, Pauline. What I find interesting is how the birds will be chattering away and all of a sudden, for no reason that I can see, they all go silent. At once. No stragglers still talking when silence is called. I often wonder what the signal is that causes them to be quiet.

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  2. It must be amazing to see so many birds at once and hear the rush of wings. And to think their numbers used to be even greater…can you imagine it? They said that some migrating flocks would darken the skies for DAYS!

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    1. I was reading something about that recently, Eliza. The world must have seemed a scarier place when things like that happened. Or maybe not. Maybe people were in awe of the wonder of such a sight just as we are today when large flocks swoop and swirl in the sky.

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      1. It seems they took the abundance for granted, shooting them out of the sky for sport and sometimes for food, but it sounds like they didn’t have much respect for the “beasts” of earth. Sad, but things aren’t much better today– humans are tough to compete with, they are really good at winning, even to spite their face. I’m hoping for a miracle! 😉

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        1. I’m hoping for that miracle, too, Eliza. When I first moved to Ohio, a friend recommended the book “The Trees” by Conrad Richter, and he described the area north of the Ohio River as a “sea of trees.” It made me wish I could have seen those virgin hardwood forests before men came along and cut them down.

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          1. The few fragments of virgin forest I have seen are sacred spaces with the all the hushed revery of a church. I try to imagine the Eden it must have been with vast portions of forest untouched.
            Today very little of the earth hasn’t been touched by the hand of man. It is pretty amazing (scary?) to think a single species has such a profound effect.

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  3. I’ve been “under” a much smaller flock of birds as they take flight an swoop and was mesmerized by it. I can only multiply that and imagine sitting back to enjoy and get lost in the thought of their wings and swooping. How lovely!

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  4. You live in such a perfect place for birdwatching. I envy you. It’s hard to have the same experience here in the city, though I love the city. We do get a ton of Canada geese, though. Aren’t they everywhere? Loved, loved, loved the blackbird pictures!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. 🙂 The Canada geese ARE everywhere. It’s a problem in a lot of places. Out here, they’re hunting them now so I’m sure the hunters don’t see them as a problem at all.

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  5. We have had flocks of blackbirds at our camp and they are amazing in numbers, the way they move as a single entity. Here in the snow, my half dozen chickadees entertain me one at a time and only for a moment. Had a female purple finch too! Jane

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    1. I think that’s what amazes me, Jane, the way they move together, almost perfectly in sync. I looked up purple finches to see if we have them here, and now I’m wondering if that’s the bird I’ve been trying to catch at the feeder. They winter here. It could be a house finch, though. I catch glimpses of red and I can tell by the beak it’s a finch, but I haven’t been able to see it clearly enough to identify it.

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  6. Wow!! We get red-winged blackbirds here at our place in the spring – I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival. But there are only ever a few of them. Those flocks you’ve photographed (murmurations?) are amazing! I love these photos. The one of the chickadee acrobatics is wonderful, too.

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. I think they are murmurations. (I love that word!) I’m pretty sure a lot of the world’s red-winged blackbirds spend their winters here. It sure looks that way. 🙂

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Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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