Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rhymes with June

June, moon, croon, spoon, spitoon, high noon, baboon, macaroon, gold doubloon, Dennis Foon, Norman Bethune, Jamie Woon, Rocky Raccoon, Lorna Doone, Granfalloon, see you soon...

It's June.

I took a walk into the June woods of the Brooks Estate with friend Ed Hazell. The June woods are like one of those "Find the hidden animals" puzzles. Ed is good at solving these. Yesterday (June 1)...well, let him tell it:

Walking out of Brooks this morning on the path back to Terrier [Road], I came face-to-face with a very scruffy fox. I saw him before he saw me, so I stopped and waited for him to come around a bend in the path. He stopped, we stared at one another for a few moments, then he calmly stepped off the path, circled around me through the woods, stepped back onto the path, and continued on his way. He didn't make a sound.

Today's puzzle revealed, first, a mourning dove in her rough stick nest, just off the boardwalk to Brooks Pond. Her chicks had hatched and she was doing the regurgitation tango with one of them, a deeply intimate kiss that showed no sign of ending in the five minutes we watched.

Second stop on the stations of the nest revealed two oriole's purses, a foot apart, in a low-hanging branch over the pond. A male, perhaps father to one, put on a Tropicana floor show in a nearby treetop: preening, singing, looking for grubs, encouraging us to move along. We did.

The third hidden bird was a nesting female wood thrush in a flowering shrub along a third path. She was in a "freeze" position, head tipped back, baring her streaky white and brown throat like a bittern. We didn't stay long. And were relieved to hear the sylvan, fluty song of a male shortly after, perhaps an all-clear sign.

The June woods puzzle also included a redstart—breeder or late migrant?—a lustily teakettling Carolina wren, and a wheeping, tree-fluttering, great-crested flycatcher, he of the long cinnamon tail. There were other hiders we only heard, like the Eastern wood-pewee, calling its name like a lost-and-found Boy Scout, and the "hoarse robin" singsong of a scarlet tanager. (Those grapes were too sour, anyway, confided the fox.)

One final irony. The bird one usually hunts for in vain among the leaf shadows, the master hider, the red-eyed vireo, flew from one exposed branch to another. I noted that this plain, dun-green, laconic vireo reminded me of Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, whose endurance depends on the success of his slow-pitch knuckleball, nothing flashy, sometimes maddening to the batter, sometimes to Red Sox Nation.

It's all right, says the red-sox vireo. It's June. it's summer. Hit. Out. Who cares? A game's a game.

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