Posted by: atowhee | September 28, 2018


September 28, 2018blackberry poemCopied from the Times Literary Supplement.

Here in this northern end of the Willamette Valley we began enjoying the earliest ripened berries in mid-July.  Now there are few left that have not hardened into wizened raisins. The first black ones each summer are still tart, then they slowly ripen to sweet and juicier, before fermenting into the tangy, alcoholic nibbles of late summer.  Then the desiccation soon replaces fermentation as we move into October.


Whence go the sweet notes after the music ends?  Does not entropy envelope all eventually?
Being a leaf is often seasonal work.  Most conifers are evergreen, and a few other plants like azalea, mahonia, boxwood and some grasses.  Yet throughout the climate non-tropical climate zones many plants go through an annual cycle of bud, leaf, photosynthesis, leaf  loss, naked season when the plant looks dormant.  The coloring and dropping of leaves by many plants is the visual essence of autumn.  The smell of those leaves, often damp and moldy, become the scent of the season.  Whence go the aromas of autumn?  Entropy never rests.

Even as many plants begin to end their photosynthesis for the nonce, some small plants are reborn with the first rains…we’ve gotten about one and a third inches and already seeds are sprouting.  This little forest beneath the forest canopy was about an inch high:fall birth

Finches on the feeder, one house, many American gold…FINCH PARTYFINCH PARTY2

The bee colony was using entrance first dug by ground squirrel.  Crane fly on our wall.

G-HOPPERAbove, a late summer grasshopper.  Below: golden-mantled ground squirrel in eastern Oregon.GMGS ROKGMGS ROK2


Sometimes birders fall to discussing the trials of saving endangered species, or rarities that face extinction.  Then I may relate my saddest birding experience from spring of 2001.  My wife and I went to the Big Island in Hawaii.  While there we scheduled a trip to McCandless Ranch to see the remaining Alala [Hawaiian Crow, really a cousin of our ravens].  We went at dawn up the tropical mountainside where an enclosure held captive crows being bred for release back into the wild.  As we watched from behind us came the unmistakable calls of a corvid, then a pair of wild Alala flew in, landed atop the wire enclosure and traded tips with the crows inside.  Then the pair flew off.  What I learned that day was that we had just seen half of the remaining wild population of Alala left on the only island where they lived.  By 2002 all four of the wild birds were dead.  Toxoplasmosis from eating feces of the cats infesting the island was a major cause of death.  Many crows were raised in captivity and were released, to tragic ends.  First they became sick, or they became prey to the endangered owl of the island, Pueo.  Now comes word that releases are being successful as the biologists working to save the Alala has developed an education system to teach the young crows (who have no avian mentor) how to avoid and identify the dangerous predator in their world.

Click here for story of how the scientists are now learning from the newly re-wilded crows.
These crows are good at tool use, of course.  Click here for description.
Like the fortunate rescue of the American bison and tule elk, the return of California Condors, and the preservation of a wild population of Whooping Cranes, and the restoration of a large population of Nene, the return of the Alala to the wild is an antidote to the bleak, dark world so much of our own species seems driven to right now.  The nasty nihilist in the White House, drought and famine and civil wars and religious fanaticism all taint our times.  The seeming inevitable rush of the market economy to devour the planet and destroy our climate makes the survival of the Alala seem like a man-assisted miracle.  The Alala survival effort is being helped along by the San Diego Zoo so for now it is far from the grasping reach of the Trump Regime that wants to destroy anything not immediately profitable.

Click here to read about the government prediction of a SEVEN DEGREE temperature rise due to the climate science our President claims is a Chinese conspiracy.

I am offering a birding day in early May in the Klamath Basin.  It is being auctioned off by Klamath Bird Observatory as part of their fall fund-raising gala.  KBO GALAYou can go to the KBO website to bid on items before the gala…like that brilliant trip to Klamath when we hope to see dancing grebes on Klamath Lake. Click here for link to online auction for myriad cool bird-related items.


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