Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
(Bird Count that is)
by Henry Lappen, Amherst, Massachusetts
'Twas the night before Christmas (count that is)
when all through the dark
not a creature was stirring
not even a lark.
The stockings were hung
on their feet with care
in hopes that real frostbite
would not settle there.
The birders were quiet
listening for owls
filled up with coffee
which gurgled their bowels.
And Jan in her kerchief
and Scott in his cap
were straining their ears
to hear any yap.
When out in the field
there arose such a clatter
we sprang from the forest
to see what was aflutter.
When what to our wondering
eyes should appear
but a miniature flock
of eight tiny Killdeer.
I got out my camera
lively and quick,
I knew in a moment
I must have a pic.
More rapid than eagles
the birders all came
and they whistled and shouted
each calling a name.
They're buntings. No, warblers.
They're swallows. No, grouse.
They're Mallards. No, nightjars.
Or maybe titmouse.
To the tops of the trees
the birds flew away all.
Oh dash it! Oh darn it!
Did you hear a call?
As varied opinions that before
no proof will fly
the arguments of birders
will mount to the sky.
They're sparrows. No, bobwhites.
No, alcids. You dolt:
They were Black-headed Gulls
in second-year molt.
And then in a twinkle
we heard from the air
a trilling or chirping
or something unclear.
As we drew in our heads
and were turning around
down to the clearing
they came with a sound.
They were all dressed in feathers
from head to their foot,
they were dark as if tarnished
with ashes and soot.
A bundle of speckles
they had on their breast
their belly and shoulders
but not on the rest.
Their eyes-how they twinkled,
their mandibles-how pale.
Their cheek patches brownish,
not much of a tail.
Their dull little coverts
were brown like the wing
and their backs and their heads.
They had no eye ring.
They were chubby and plump
all filled up with berries
and also from composted
A wink of an eye
and a twist of a head
soon gave us to know
we had something to dread.
They sprang to the air
to our team gave a whistle
that sounded as raucous
as an incoming missile.
But we heard them exclaim
e'er they flew out of sight
many starlings to all
and to all a good flight!
Been tossing and turning Since a quarter past eight.
The birds and the places have my heart full of cheer
But I just can't decide who to help out this year
A Snowy Owl turned up in the County of Murray.
Now Janet is hoping the bird does not scurry.
She's trying to get in place a good team
So Audubon accepts this count with more glee
Gray Jays are flooding in to the northwest
For DL and Crookston that may be the best
Now, Tamarac and Warren may get them too
But how will I get to them all? WHAT TO DO?
But three! Not just one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Seem very reliable - that may be a cinch
Though Carlton-Cloquet is across the whole state
And would mean a long drive after its already late
But darn it the Marshall Count's on the same day
( Maybe I'll pass it off and get far away. )
I've always wanted to help the count in Duluth
(I'd like to live there to tell you the truth)
that get titmice and eagles to the just the least
Winona, I think, would be a neat place to go
I'd rack up some new county birds then, you know.
Consistently get waterfowl while on their migration
Then perhaps I could join Hockema on Rochester's count
Wait. That's the same day... that idea's out.
International, and Fergus might be just too far
Redwood is closer, Little I've done
(And I mean the location, the count there was fun!)
That congregate together so many nice faces
Grand places like Rapids, and also Marais
(Places I'd also love to permanently stay)
Owatonna, New Ulm, and Rice Lake NWR,
Pine County, Long Prairie, Crosby, Battle Lake
Wild River and then Albert Lea - - heaven's sake!
And know I can't make it to Ely by my own.
Aurora and Bemidji I'd both like to try
And want to get to Wabasha 'fore I die
I want to try Pillager, and do Philbrook with Ben.
Mountain Lake-Windom is closer to Home,
But how I would love to again Baudette roam.
The vast metro area always turns up good birds
Maybe for Northern Wright County this year's my turn.
Excelsior, Afton, Cedar Creek Bog, Hastings-Etter
The possibilities just get better and better.
How can I possibly get to them all!?!
There's more than 70 Christmas Bird Counts this year!
The choice will be difficult, that's perfectly clear.
Will that Slaty-backed Gull stick around two more days?
Austin that next day then might be it,
But that conflicts with Two Harbors, oh I quit!
For me, this list is growing way too much.
Willmar, Virginia, Sherburne NWR
Morris, just maybe, or Isabella by car.
Moorhead, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
Yet Fairmont and Roseau and Hibbing need help
as they all too often are stuck by themselves.
But St. Cloud-Collegeville needs some help too.
How can there possibly be this many choices
Thirteen days could be filled with birds and their voices.
This frantic a pace - although fun - I could not keep.
I suppose its the same old thing this year again
Lamberton, Cottonwood, and Lac qui Parle...
... with good friends.
Yet the room comes alive with refreshing new cheer.
Reliving the day, and the days that have gone by
Perhaps close to home are the best counts to try.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.