Eastern Wood-Pewee, Northern Flicker, Barred Owl

Early September afternoons feel warm, green and golden, lulled by the buzz and hum of insects. Very few birds sing. A Northern Flicker calls sharply, kleer! An Eastern Phoebe calls tsup and swoops from branch to branch, pausing low in the shade, with soft-yellow breast and dark-gray head. It pumps its tail impatiently and looks around, not staying long before flying off to catch another insect and perching again in a different place.

An Eastern Wood-Pewee calls a dreamy wheee-ooo from a higher perch on a dead, bare branch, flies up to catch an insect and returns, again and again, to the same spot to hunt.

Three scrappy persimmon trees stand on one corner of a neighbor’s yard, growing closely intertwined with four water oaks. The trunks of one persimmon and one water oak seem melded together at the bottom, and then grow up into separate trunks. The persimmon trees now are loaded with fruits, and the water oaks with small acorns. Further down the road a tall, lanky, craggy old apple tree holds a good crop of ripening apples. Squirrels already have begun to harvest pecans and acorns, and a few are dropping early to the ground.

A scattering of crusty brown and yellow leaves have begun to show here and there, though most of the trees all around are still a dark, dense, deep summer green. This afternoon in a low spot near a creek, a golden shower of leaves, lit by a shaft of sunlight, swirled gently down in a breeze.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers call chuck-chuck-chuck and rattle. Downy Woodpeckers whinny more delicate rattles and pink calls. The traveling kuk-kuk-kuk of a Pileated Woodpecker moves through the woods. A Carolina Wren trills, another burbles. A Northern Cardinal peeps. A Mockingbird flashes its white wing-patches as it flies into a bush and calls a harsh djeeerk. An Eastern Towhee whistles a rich chur-wheeee.

The big, finely woven webs of orb-web spiders have begun to appear in many places. There’s one fat, reddish, fierce-looking spider that spins a very large circular web across part of our deck each day and hangs in its center until one of us walks into it. It’s placed so that it hangs between the deck umbrella and the side of the house, so the early morning light shines through it when it’s still new and fresh, and we can admire its intricate pattern. Then later, the big web becomes less visible and we get busy and forget, and end up with a face and hair full of sticky not-so-pretty spidery silk, and the spider scurries to collect what’s left of its grand creation, to spin another day.

Very early one recent morning, in the gray light of dawn, a Barred Owl near our back yard hooted a series of deep, haunting who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-aawl.

Leave a Reply