May 07, 2011

Drumbeat in Trillium Woods


I got up at 5:30 am this morning to go birdwatching. On a Saturday. It wasn’t my idea, of course. It’s still dark at 5:30 am. But I was visiting LovesWolves, and birdwatching at dawn is her idea of fun.

Once I managed to get myself out of bed, it was fun. A light rain was coming down, but the sky got brighter as we walked, and LovesWolves kept identifying every bird that sang.

“That’s an oven bird,” she said. “There’s a wood thrush. A crow, of course. And that drumming sound? A ruffed grouse.” Usually, bird song sounds like an orchestra number to me, beautiful music but I don’t separate the trumpet sounds from the flutes or think about the individual musicians. But after LovesWolves pointed them out, I listened and heard individual birds. We wandered in the direction of the oven bird, hoping to see it.

A mist of green was creeping across the woods. We saw mayflowers, trout lily leaves, bloodroot, skunk cabbages, trilliums, ferns. LovesWoods knew the name of everything I pointed to. Old logs were covered with brilliant mosses. The leaves on the trees were just starting to unfold, so we could see all the way to the eastern horizon, where a reddish sun was making branches glow.

As we neared some older trees, we heard a sudden beating of wings, a flurry of flapping. A ruffed grouse flew right up in our faces and then took off to our right. Distracted, I turned toward the sound, but LovesWolves nudged me. “Look.”

At the base of the tree was a nest, filled with eggs. We moved quietly away so that the bird could come back to her nest.

The best part of early morning in the woods is thinking smugly about all the people in town, sound asleep, missing out on the cool things we were seeing. But after an hour of wandering, I was ready for a cup of hot tea. We came back to the house, where LovesWolves’ wife was still sleeping, tired from a 12-hour shift she’d worked, and her one-year-old daughter was wide awake and looking for breakfast.


Sandy said...

5:30 am? That _is_ crazy.

phil said...

We had a similar experience while hiking near Ashland, OR. A grouse started running at us from up the trail. At first, we thought it was sorta comical, but when he/she started making a big racket with its wings, we retreated back down the trail, not knowing what kind of damage it could do us.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

SUPER-Natural experiences!!! Love them! How wonderful.

We had some today, too, only not quite so early!

AF said...

Is there anything in the woods prettier than a trillium?