North-south migration

I have gained the presumption that Westwind Farms is smack-dab in line with the flight path of birds in migration.

During the spring, I can sit outside long after sunset and hear the chipping of warblers as their scattered flocks fly over, hidden by the darkness of night.

This past spring, too, I saw a large mixed flock of what I once identified as snow geese and blue geese, but I was later to find out (thanks to DNA), that they are one and the same, just a different colour phase. I hear grebes and loons calling on the rivers as they stop to feed on their way north, but none of these stay.

There are a lot of small lakes linked by many streams that crisscross the farmlands, so I sometimes see black ducks, mallards, and green-winged teal visit our pond throughout the summer. My pride and joy is the great blue heron that drops in for his daily dozen of frogs, and too, last year, not this year, a pair of Sandhill cranes searched the long grasses where the goats now pasture. I think they were seeking out the nesting mice.

This past week as I sat on Jennie, my jitney, watching the bee man place the winter covers over the individual hives, Foxy, my constant companion, gave a playful yip and chased up several robins that had gathered in the aging fence row. When I looked closer, I could see what I guestimated to be a hundred or more.

Knowing that their attraction there was a crab apple tree, which was loaded so heavily with bright-red ripening fruit that some of its branches almost touched the ground, I decided to stay and watch them for a while. The sun was warm, so I backed Jennie up to a post in the fence so I could lean back with support for my head. From there, I could watch the robins, the bee man, Foxy, and the drifting white clouds in the sky.

It was warm in the sun. I was comfortable, and though it was crowding the time for my customary noon snooze, I decided to wait and watch. So I closed my eyes just to rest them for a moment.

When I awoke just a few moments later, the robins were gone; the multitude of crab apples had been stripped from the tree. The bee man, having finished his work, had left, and Foxy had got tired of waiting and wandered back to the house to lie on the porch. On checking the time on my cell phone, one and a half hours had passed.

When I glanced upward at the beautiful white cloud formation, I saw a flash of bright light. Again and again I saw it. On closer scrutiny, I realized it was the sun reflecting off the wings of a flock of high-flying white swans. There must have been a hundred or more. They were changing formation in flight. On listening closely, I could hear their faraway bubbling bell-tone babble as their huge ‘V’ re-formed in the sky. What a beautiful sight!

Take care, ‘cause we care.



Barrie Hopkins