Posted by: atowhee | December 22, 2020

SOLSTICE HERE AND GONE

“…Looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way…” –Joni Mitchell

Clouds got in the way this week, blocking out any chance to see Jupiter and Saturn twinkling
in tandem across the night sky here above Salem. I never regret the rain.

Both reality and metaphor confirm these are the darkest days. For those of us who still believe In math the numbers confirm that the hours of daylight are the least right now in the Northern Hemisphere. Not only do our Kiwi friends have almost no covid concerns and a female head of government, they have sunlight until well after dinner. They’re dreaming of a sunny Christmas. And even here in the USA spring will return, regardless of covid and human folly. Already the alder are hung with tassels, California poppies are sending gup the first frilly stalks, violets, too, are now showing. Our lilacs and rhodies are in heavy bud, and some of our hardy roses have never ceased to bud and bloom.

My daughter reports her neighborhood in west Portland has a salmonella outbreak on bird feeders and it is killing siskins. They’ve taken down their feeders.

Yesterday a Red-breasted Nuthatch came to one of our feeders. I hadn’t seen one in two weeks and it is only my third sighting of the species here. We are not hear a true grove of conifers though we have a quartet of large ones in front of our house–one spruce, Doug fir, cedar, exotic pine species. Speaking of red-breasted, I haven’t seen a sapsucker here since mid-October though they were pretty regular before that.

SOME RECENT PHOTOS
From Christmas Counts and around the Willamette Valley.

Here is image of dead gull. I do not think it died because it refused to wear the mask clinging to the fence. This is a first-year Glaucous-winged Gull and this image shows the typical pale coloring, no black feathers at all. You will never get this good a view of a living, wild bird.

We watched this red-tail drop off his pole perch and land on a vole. A quick snack and off he went.


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