Brown-headed Nuthatch and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds – Afternoon on the Deck

Early this afternoon on the back deck, the weather almost felt like a return to summer. It was very warm, though pleasant in the shade of the oaks. High, loose white clouds crowded in a soft blue sky. A Red-shouldered Hawk cried kee-yer, soaring somewhere in the east. Light warm breezes brought down showers of acorns, with loud, startling pops – under the table’s umbrella was the safest place to sit. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds – all females or juveniles now – came and went steadily. Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers called back and forth, churk-churk, as they flew from tree to tree and worked on the trunks. Squirrels rustled in leaves. Grasshoppers and crickets sang. Some Crows cawed in the distance.

We were supposed to be on our way to Boston today, but complications from a strep infection kept me at home. So I’m not good for much but sitting out here and taking it easy today – and feeling pretty depressed. But it’s hard to feel too sorry for myself – if one has to be sick, a sunny deck on a beautiful, warm afternoon is a pretty luxurious way to endure it.

A Northern Cardinal sings, and a Carolina Wren – then another, answering the song. The first few leaves have begun to fall. Last week sometime, while walking, I noticed a thick sprinkling of sweet gum leaves on the ground and the road and roadside, drab-yellow stars splotched with brown.

A tiny green anole with a very long, thin dark tail paused on the deck rail to look around with its miniature dinosaur head. A Mockingbird sang from somewhere in the front yard. A Blue Jay cried. Then an Eastern Phoebe began to sing. A Downy Woodpecker in the oaks called a sharp, high peenk; a male with a bright red patch on the back of its head, going quickly over the branches, in and out of sunlight in the white-oak leaves. A White-breasted Nuthatch was not far away in the woods. Its nasal awnk-awnk calls moved through the trees, roughly following the course of the creek. More acorns fell.

A Pileated Woodpecker’s traveling cuk-cuk-cuk call also moved through the woods, even further away. Abruptly, a quiet Brown-headed Nuthatch flew in for a few upside-down sips from the feeder moat, then flew away with one of its softly murmured calls. Its visit seemed a special sight, even though a pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches are frequent visitors to drink from the moat. And then puh-weeee – in trees to the southeast, not far away, an Eastern Wood-Pewee’s call was repeated for several minutes, somewhere screened by trees, out of sight.

A small Blue-tailed Skink (a young Broadheaded Skink), crossed the deck, slithering more slowly than usual and even pausing out in the open, soaking up some sun along the way.

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