Monday, May 12, 2008

Silent Spring?

Friday there was a fire at City Hall and we had to evacuate the building. The fire was on the roof and the damage was minimal, but the air inside was full of lingering fumes from burning insulation, so we were told to take the rest of the day off. This gave me a couple of hours of freedom from the job and Michelle and the babies, and I took the opportunity to get some tasks done at home. The prospect of doing laundry and yard work without interruption made me almost giddy with joy. I actually find myself looking forward to those rare moments when I can do chores in peace. F**king sad, that is.

Saturday I added a new bird to the yard list: Common Yellowthroat. A dingy female, but a yellowthroat nonetheless. It was overdue. I've allowed a thicket of cattails and honeysuckle and Chinese tallow and other invasive shrubs to engulf the edge of the pond, expecting that sooner or later I'd find a yellowthroat there. Earlier this year I did hack down a bunch of pine and tallow sapplings, and as fast as the stuff grows I'll have to remove more eventually.

It's been an uneventful season for neotropical migrants in our neighborhood. With all the emergent vegetation around the pond I figured I'd see more action. The habitat has definitely improved, so where are all the birds? Some species that I've come to expect are strangely absent. No Orchard Orioles in our yard this spring - that's a first. Others have commented on Texbirds about unusually low numbers of Yellow-billed Cuckoos and other species. Based on my limited (and purely annecdotal) observations it does seem that cuckoos have been scarcer than usual.

On Sunday I had a small flock of Barn and Cliff Swallows over the pond. I only mention it because it's unusual that I see Cliff Swallows here, despite the existence of a small colony less than a mile away. Other birds observed in and around our yard in recent days include Green Heron, Broad-winged Hawk, and Summer Tanager.


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