Posted by: atowhee | September 8, 2016


We are all ephemeral. Some more than others. Like sunlight glinting on a dragonfly wing, like a leaf quivering on a soft whoosh of air, a water strider walks on water and vanishes down stream.bakr-crk strider-1280x960

Ephemera #1: a dust devil, born as usual over a dry, plowed field, where solar heat and loose topsoil combine for a tragic bit of beauty.  Soil blown away, the devil’s image here and then gone. This one along Baker Creek Road lasted about twenty seconds.dust-dvl-a-1280x960

Shortly after I sat down about 20 feet from  a platform feeder in our shaded garden, birds began to gather.  First came a young House Finch.  He sat in the feeder tray and began to take in sunflower seeds. Soon a flock of American Goldfinches began to move into the smoke tree when that tray hangs.  More cautious than their bigger cousin, these goldfinches looked at me, looked at the House Finch, fluttered up and down in the tree until one finally got brave and landed on the tray.  The House Finch didn’t flinch.  Soon a second goldfinch landed, then a third.  Eventually as many as seven were in the tray at one time. Later this same flock showed interest in the bird bath.  There were numerous overflights, no landing  After a few minutes of this caution, a single goldfinch landed, leaned forward and took a couple sips.  Then he was joined by a second whose landing scared them both and off they went.amgo-drinks-1280x960 amgo-in-shade-1280x960

Two other goldfinches moved through a large drooping hydrangea bush.  I thought they might be sneaking up on another platform that hangs beneath the arched boughs of the bush.  But these finches began to lean over from their perch and drink delicately from water drops cupped in the large hydrangea leaves.amgo-drinks1-1280x960 amgo-drinks2-1280x960 amgo-drinks3-1280x960 amgo-drinks4-1280x960 amgo-in-hydr-1280x960

Meanwhile two Juncos, one male and one female had moved through the smoke tree and past the dawn redwood, but they would not deign to approach the finches in the tray. Perhaps avian xenophobia is keeping up with that which is so prevalent in human political affairs these days. Besides the Juncos are avid groundlings. Thus they moved off to the bare edge of the lawn.  Last I saw this pair had plunked down into the bird bath and both were wing-fluttering, tail-dipping, splashing water and washing themselves with glee.  In my experience there are few more enthusiastic bathers than Juncos, even when the temperature drops below freezing if they are provided with warm water.


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