Friday, April 3, 2009

A WET-BUZZARD DAY

It’s a “wet buzzard” day here along the river. One of those drippy, drizzly, dark, damp, dreary days that I find delightful, though the aforementioned turkey vultures who roost on the island across from the cottage don’t look nearly so pleased. Rainy days aren't good for soaring, so a hungry buzzard looking for a tasty bite of breakfast roadkill sometimes has to sit idle and soaked, hoping for drier times. While the majority of their dark-robed clan have taken refuge by huddling on limbs of various large sycamores, close to the trunks, a handful of birds have found perches in the tops of a tree or two. Since these trees afford a good view to the west, maybe the birds are supposed to be acting as lookouts, scanning for a glimpse of clearing weather. However, they’ve all turned their backs toward the prevailing winds, which is also the direction of any possible storm relief. Rather than attentive, they simply look miserable. The rain began yesterday evening around 8:00 p.m. with a lot of lightning and thunder histrionics, which continued throughout the night. But the drama was more flash and sound than actual substance. A dawn inspection of the river revealed no more than a 2-3 inch rise in water level, though I expect that to increase some as the day progresses and the rain that fell north of here gets fed into the mainstream by the tributaries. When you live on a river, you have to remember it doesn’t matter how much rain falls on you and your portion of the drainage area—it’s the upstream rainfall that counts. Sometimes the water rises several feet here, although we’d never received the first drop of rain. Frankly, I’m glad to have this rain. The moisture will help bring out the wildflowers—of which, there’s been a dearth so far—and might, with luck, induce the delectable morel mushrooms to begin popping up in the greening woods. Most of us hard-core outdoor foragers rank these “sponge” ‘rooms near the top of our list for toothsome wild treats. The rain’s one downside is that I’ll probably have to buy that new lawnmower soon. My pair of Canada geese are doing their part, and they’ve even sublet a couple of corners of the yard to some noisy mallards…but the grass appears to be winning. I had high hopes [here] but the female Canada is now nesting over on the island, so her contributions to keeping my grass in check have been greatly reduced. Still, a bit of spring rain is a good thing…unless you’re a buzzard.

18 comments:

KGMom said...

I think rain puts us all in a "the world is too much with us, late and soon" mood--although for different reasons than Wordsworth.

He continued:
"Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;"

I think you see much in nature that is yours.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

It's still cloudy, but the rain may be mostly over here for today. The river is now up about a foot or a bit more, and still rising. The buzzards have gone airborne and cruised off in search of lunch.

I do see "much in nature that is [mine]" but only in only way we ever really own such things, by loving, understanding, and allowing it the freedom and respect to be what it is.

Lynne said...

They do look a bit miserable don't they? I would love to have your view of that roost. Are there any drawbacks?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lynne…

None whatsoever from my point of view. I enjoy them immensely. They are fascinating birds.

There's no smell from the roost—not even under their trees on the island, probably because of rains and occasional flooding, plus natural composting. They seem curious, and will often sit and stare at goings on around the cottage. Sometimes they feed and preen in the shallow riffle and rocks directly in front of the house, within 10 feet of my great room window! You'd love seeing them so close.

This will be my fourth summer living here, and I noted that each time around, it appears they choose a slightly different set of trees for their nightly rooting each year, moving a hundred yards up or down the island. The second spring here, when they relocated farther away from the cottage, I thought they didn't like or wouldn't tolerate my presence. But the third spring they were back across from the cottage—and this year they're just slightly downstream. I believe this is just a turkey vulture's way.

Before a storm, morning or afternoon, it's neat to see them all come sailing in to their roost trees, arriving within a minute or two of one another, and quickly getting settled. It's also fun to see them sunning themselves in the mornings.

Nope, there's no downside to buzzards. They're great neighbors!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Geese as lawnmowers? Mmm - about in the same league as sheep I think Scribe - they might eat the grass here and there but what else do they nibble at?
Love your turkey vultures.
I agree about rivers - you have to live by one to realise all the nuances they contain. Often here our river is "banking" and we have had no rain at all. Higher up the fells it has been pouring and it has all come down our way.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Alas, I do believe my geese-as-mower hopes will prove to be nothing more than just that—hopes. I know nothing either about sheep and their lawnmowing ratings. They do lend a more pastoral look to a farm than wild geese, though. (Of course, Canada geese being my "spirit bird" let me add that is not a complaint.)

Rivers do indeed prove to be more than scenic "ditches" with flowing water in them if you live near one. A riverman (or riverwoman) learns the nuances of the stream, the way it reacts to rain, how quickly it comes up and goes back down, etc. They quickly develop an abiding interest in weather reports from upstream. Rivers are, in the truest sense of the words, living landscape.

Glad you like the turkey vultures. I consider them a real plus to my immediate surroundings; a prime feature of the property and homelife here along the river.

Rowan said...

I'm glad that you've had rain, I know that you need it. I don't mind rain, what I really dislike are grey, nothing-y kind of days. Poor turkey buzzards, I'm sure they'll be soaring high again soon. Unlike you we've had a lovely, warm, sunny day and I walked up towards the moors this afternoon. In Uk you have to make the most of these daye when you get them because you don't know how long the next nice day might be!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

Yup, the buzzards up and gone for the day—or until weather sends them scurrying home.

I like rainy days. Usually I work best then, for some reason. Storms seem to energize me. And we have truly needed this rain.

I wish it were a bit warmer here today, though. Yesterday was in the low-70s, bright, clear, a glorious April day. As I write the, in midafternoon, it's still not quite 50 degrees. I'm thinking of soup for lunch (haven't eaten since breakfast at 6:30 am) and a nice hearthfire. I'm also dogsitting Willy [see WILLY BOY'S HOLIDAY RESCUE in January] along with Moon (my dog) so I figure we can all use a nice warming fire to laze in front of for a while.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

You paint a great word picture of the wet buzzards! I can picture them backs turned to the wind.

If it continues raining you will have the perfect excuse not to mow your lawns!

Gail said...

Your weather mirrors our weather here.

I love cloudy days - dark ominous skies. I love to be home, listening to the sounds of rain, wind and trees rustling. The brook is at full speed. The beavers will be hard pressed to complete their dam.

Love Gail
peace.........

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

The rain's quit, the river is up about four feet and still rising slowly. It's cold, low 40s. But my no-mow excuses are dwindling.

What's going to happen is that with the nice moist ground, the next warm day will send the grass shooting up. I'm thinking lawn mower next week.

Re. buzzard descriptions…hey, I can't paint like you, so I gotta make you see them as best I can.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

I love dark days too. Must be that touch of Celtic/Druid blood. Makes me want to go out and hug a hemlock or cut mistletoe from and oak.

And with the river coming up, any beavers here right now would be paddling hard saving their dam. You ought to have seen my yard goose swimming back across the river after his evening snack.

gleaner said...

Rainy and cloudy days are good days to start a blog (finally). Come and visit, all advice welcome.
Bella

JMS said...

Congrats on your rain.

Do you ever see black vultures in your neck of the woods?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gleaner…

I have visited your blog and left a comment—though simply of welcome. I don't think you need any advice from me (not that I'm qualified to give advice) except to have at it!

Just don't become overly swayed by future blogdom fame and forget to visit the riverbank!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

JMS…

Around here, yes, but infrequently—though never yet specifically along "my" riverbank. One county over to the southeast they're fairly common. I wish they were around here more because I'd like to watch and compare them with turkey vultures. I know there are several behavioral differences in addition to size, appearance, and their being classified in a different genus than TVs—for example, that black vultures hunt via sight while turkey vultures employ their keen sense of smell.

How about where you are—one or both?

JMS said...

I'm in north central Ohio where we only have turkey vultures. Whenever I travel south (which is infrequently since my heart always takes me north), I keep an eye out for blacks and it's always a kick to see them. I've seen them together and the b&w wing pattern and tail shape are distinctive.

I imagine their sight hunting would take them to more open country than tree-lined riverbanks.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

JMS…

Now see, that's one of those black buzzard lore questions I'd like to know more about. You'd think their sight-hunting would make them favor more open country—and this may indeed be the case; yet the area of Ohio where I most often see black vultures is the southeastern hill-country. Vinton, Pike, Ross, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Scioto, Highland, etc., though maybe because those are the areas I head when I need my "hill fix." But I start seeing black vultures soon after Xenia.

There's certainly way more about buzzards—turkey vultures and black vultures—I need to learn.