Walking. In a Flash of White.

Walking.  @ Daybreak.  Cove Island Park.  746 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.

Fog. Dense Fog.  (Square alignment with mental state on 4.5 hours of sleep. Yes, we’re back b*tching about insomnia. And we were doing so good.)

No mystical Deer stepping out of the shadows. No Atlantic Gants preening. No Swans-A-Swimming. No Humans. And one Human rapidly losing enthusiasm here.  I adjust the backpack, strap on left shoulder biting. Damn, why so heavy today.

I walk.

The shoreline is layered in fog so dense, air brushes my face with infinitesimal droplets of rain.

My footfall sinks an inch or two into the beach sand.

I walk.

There’s a white flash.  It’s moving too quickly. Auto focus can’t lock in on her, can’t get a clear shot of her in the fog soup.

An Egret.  Legs tucked together tightly, platform diver, wings flapping ever so slowly, all of it keeping her airborne.  Miracle. All of it.

And White. Oh, so white.  Snow white against the all-world gray morning.  A palette no computer can replicate.

Why this white? This so white.

Why not black, or green or fuchsia? Why just egrets this white.  Why not all Birds-of-a-Feather be this white?

And who decided?

And I stand watching. Standing in the same fog. With the same heavy backpack. Yet, all of it is lighter.  Clearer.

Delia Ephron, in her “Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life“: “Out of this convoluted, mixed-up thinking, I manage to spin a little hope…I do feel that I was thrust into darkness and given back light. And it opened me up to feeling part of a larger world, I’m not sure why…Like everyone else, I have a time here and it will be over…This gift could be snuffed out at any moment.” 

The image persists… an old black and white photo decaying on its edges…the egret wing flaps…her legs elegantly tucked tight behind her, she flies. Lightly, child. Lightly.

This gift could be snuffed out at any moment.


Note:

  • Photo: Egret, this morning. 5:08 a.m.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More Photos from this morning here.
  • Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
  • Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Gökotta

Gökotta (n., Swed.)

“a dawn picnic to hear the first birdsong”; the act of rising in the early morning to watch the birds or to go outside to appreciate nature.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK – (Wet) Baby Blue Jay.  6:50 a.m., May 7, 2022. 50° F & Rain
  • Quote: Thank you The Hammock Papers

723 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row. And the Eagle has landed.

Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park.  723 consecutive (almost) days. Like in a row.  And the Bald Eagle has landed.  Picture quality: Blah. No zoom lens. But we’ll take it!

First live spotting in my lifetime. 6:16 am. 40° F, feels like 31° F.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. April 28, 2022.  (Backstory: Walking. When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.)

Unselfing

Beauty, (Iris) Murdoch argues, gave us an opportunity for an “unselfing.” She writes:

I am looking out my window in an anxious and resentful state of mind, oblivious of my surroundings, brooding perhaps on some damage done to my prestige. Then suddenly I observe a hovering kestrel. In a moment everything is altered. The brooding self with its hurt vanity has disappeared. There is nothing now but kestrel. And when I return to thinking of the other matter it seems less important.

Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, April 5, 2022)


Notes:

  • Kestrel. Cardinal. Same. Shot taken of Red Cardinal overhead this morning @ 8 am in backyard.
  • Photos from Daybreak walk this morning here.

T.G.I.F. 5:00 PM Bell.

Lightly Child, Lightly

Drifting, what am I like?

A gull between earth and sky.

—  Du Fu, (712- 770). “Thoughts While Traveling At Night”, trans. by Vikram Seth, in Three Chinese Poets: Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu


Notes:

  • Photo – DK @ Cove Island Park on March 21, 2022. Quote via antigonick
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Tuesday Morning Big Stretch!


My Swan in a Big Stretch @ Daybreak. 6:40 am, Feb 22, 2022. 34° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  Backstories on my Swan here. More pictures from this morning here.

Just She, and then there were …


Went out yesterday afternoon in a flash winter weather advisory (a 20 minute snow squall / white-out) to be welcomed by another most pleasant surprise. Backstories on my Swan here.

Saturday Morning

Other times when I hear the wind blow

I feel that just hearing the wind blow makes it worth being born.

—  Fernando Pessoa, The Collected Poems of Alberto Caeiro

 


Notes: Photo – DK @ Cove Island Park.  Poem: Thank you The Vale of Soul Making

Walking. Swan-ful.

6:10 a.m.

Dark. 12° F, feels like Nasty.  Wind cuts through all the layers. Shiver.

I’m driving down Weed Avenue, eyes scan The Cove.

When she’s here, even in the blackest of Nights, there’s no missing that White Coat, those 25,000 feathers, that Beacon.

Sadness, I need your black White wing.” (PN*)

I drive on, now 500 yards from the park.

There!

I pull off the highway, grab the camera, and approach.

I offer her a soft, short whistle.

She pops her head up, “Hey there Mister, All Good Here.”

Then, she tucks her head back under her wing, and back to sleep.

I pause watching her for a moment, and then glance up at Polaris, shimmering overhead.

Yes, O.K. All good here too.

This World can keep on, keep spinning on its axis.

 


Notes:

Walking. Swan-less.

5:35 a.m.

Dark. Wet. Rain. 43° F. I pan through the hour by hour Weather Channel Forecast:

5 am: “Light rain.”
6 am: “Light rain.”
7 am: “Light rain.”
8 am: “Light rain.”

and so on, hourly until 7 pm.

“Wintry mix likely for the next several hours.”

I sit up in bed. No chance, you are going out in that.  

Mind drifts to my Swan. She’s out there. Rain, raining down on her coat.

I google ‘swans’ to find Biology of Swans. “Swans have about 25,000 feathers on their body – the vast majority of these are tiny, little feathers situated round the head and neck.” 

Somehow this puts me at ease. For a moment.

25,000 feathers must keep her warm, as she dives to feed in the frigid waters of The Cove. She can’t be cold. She can’t be hungry. 25,000 feathers.

I pull the covers up, and close my eyes. Damn it. I need to get to The Cove. [Read more…]

Miracle. All of it. (Take 103)

The first shot of her was taken yesterday. Mid-morning. The others, from this morning.

I went back out yesterday after my daybreak walk, the winds were howling. Like I hadn’t had enough of this?

She was 50 yards out.  She spotted me, and there was no doubt of her intentions. Human, Food.  She tried to crawl up onto the ice and get to the shoreline. Unsuccessful.  I walked further down, she was in full pursuit, like she was panicked that I would leave. Come on Man, I’m hungry.  I kept walking. She followed. I had nothing on me. Nothing.

I turned, got into the car, didn’t look back. Couldn’t look back.  You do know that feeding them is wrong, right?

It was colder this morning when I went out. Much colder.

A large part of the cove was frozen over.

She was on my mind.  She hangs with a flock of Canada Geese. I haven’t seen her mate in months, likely basking in the Gulf of California.

And there she was.  Sleeping soundly. Ice solidly formed around her.

And I stand, watching.

She responds to a whistle, but I couldn’t disturb her.  Both hands in my pockets, the right scooping half a cup of itty bitty Nyjer seedlings, which I sift through my fingers.

Another day Girl. Another Day.


Notes:

  • Photos: DK @ Daybreak. 6:24 to 7:19 am, January 30, 2022. 9° F, feels like -2° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT Other photos from this morning here. Related Swan posts: Swan1
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.

Wait…


Imgur: Falcon, by Dave Mcarthy

as difficult to attain as a pair of wings and a halo

9/13/42. The most spiritual and “beautiful” literature has already been written—in the Bible, in the Greek dramas, in their philosophies. What we have to attain is at best the material representation, a poor substitute for the eternities we cannot logically hope to emulate. Spirituality in our day is as difficult to attain as a pair of wings and a halo.

 Patricia Highsmith, “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995.″ Anna von Planta (Editor). (Liveright, November 16, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. December 20, 2021. 22° F, feels like 16° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

T.G.I.F.

Your mother’s favorite bird was the one in front of her.

—  Richard Powers, Bewilderment: A Novel (W. W. Norton & Company, September 21, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:23 am, September 24, 2021. 58° F.  Heavy Rain.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT

T.G.I.F.: Hummy (in slo mo)


Eric Kanigan (Son), photographer & video creator. Backyard, 7pm, Thursday, September 2, 2021

…his long neck folded

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one—
not knowing even
that was what he did—
in the blowing
sounds in the dark,
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

— Jane Hirshfield, “Hope and Love” from “The Lives of the Heart: Poems


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. Heron. 6:03 am, August 22, 2021. 75° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. 

5:00 P.M. Bell! Happy Hour!


Hummy in Backyard. July 30, 2021. 5:05 pm.

Shazam for bird songs

…Birds can be secretive creatures, staying high in the treetops or deep in the underbrush. Even those in plain sight often move startlingly quickly, appearing as hardly more than a flash of color, a blur of wings. Except for the background sound of birdsong, many people are never aware of how many birds — or how few — they share the world with.

Apps like iNaturalist from National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences help to close that gap, functioning as both electronic field guides and vast data-collection devices. They learn as we learn, improving with every photo and map pin we upload, helping experts understand a planet undergoing profound change. But what of the vast number of birds we never see, those we only hear? To offer that feature — one that accurately and consistently recognizes birds by sound alone — would be the birding equivalent of finding the Holy Grail.

Identifying birds by their songs has always been difficult, for computers and humans alike. Every species of bird has a range of vocalizations, sometimes an immense range, and those vocalizations can have regional inflections, just as people speak with local accents. In some species, individual birds put a unique spin on their songs, too. A mockingbird is the avian equivalent of a jazz musician.

Last month, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released an updated version of its Merlin Bird ID app, which allows users to identify birds by song. There are other voice-recognition apps for birds, but they are accurate barely 50 percent of the time. Though Merlin doesn’t claim to be 100 percent accurate, it comes very close. Drawing on a database of notes and recordings contributed by tens of thousands of citizen scientists through the Lab’s eBird initiative, Merlin listens as you listen, in real time, and tells you what you’re hearing. The app can identify some 400 North American species so far and will keep expanding. It’s an immense achievement, a quantum leap forward, nothing less than “a Shazam for bird songs,” as an article in Fast Company put it.

Naturally, I had to try out the new technology. I am far from an expert birder, but I do know my avian neighbors, and I figured a good way to test Merlin’s accuracy was to try it with birds I can already recognize by ear.

The first test didn’t bode well. I was reading on the sofa when I heard a Carolina wren singing just above my head. It was hopping around in a hanging basket barely a foot beyond the glass and singing its head off. That wren was as close as any bird was ever going to get, but the app was stumped. “Merlin has no matches,” it reported. Merlin fared no better in the two other recordings I made indoors.

But outside, something magical happened. I set my phone down on the table on my back deck, opened the Merlin app, chose “Sound ID” and hit the microphone button. Immediately a spectrogram of sound waves began to scroll across the screen. Every time a bird sings, the sound registers as a kind of picture of the song. By comparing that picture with others in its database, the app arrives at an ID.

I watched as Merlin rolled out the names of bird after bird — tufted titmouse, European starling, Carolina chickadee, northern cardinal, American crow, white-breasted nuthatch, eastern towhee, house wren, American goldfinch, blue jay, eastern bluebird, American robin, Carolina wren, house finch. It didn’t miss a single one.

What amazed me was not merely the accuracy of the ID but also the way the app untangled the layers of song, correctly identifying the birds that were singing in my yard, as well the birds that were singing next door and the birds that were singing across the street. If the same bird sang a second time, the app highlighted the name it had already listed. Watching those highlights play across the growing list of birds was almost like watching fingers fly across a piano keyboard.

Then I started seeing the names of birds I’d never seen in this yard before, birds that for me have existed only as undifferentiated sounds in the trees: Kentucky warbler, blue-gray gnatcatcher, yellow-breasted chat. The new bird I’d been hearing but not seeing all summer long, the one whose song sounded to me like, “Here, here, do you know my name?” turned out to be a magnificent summer tanager. Merlin also picked up the song of a yellow-throated warbler, a bird the app identified as uncommon for this area. I knew two were here because one of their babies fell out of a nest onto my son’s car — it was safely reared by the wildlife experts at Walden’s Puddle and released back into the wild — but I had never heard them sing. At least, I didn’t know what I was hearing when I heard them sing.

This enchanting app is aptly named. Watching those birds appear on my phone screen in response to the sound of their voices in the air was a kind of wizardry — like watching the notes of a song become visible, like having fairies or angels suddenly embodied before me. Merlin made me see what before I could only imagine.

—  Margaret Renkl, from “This ‘Shazam’ for Birds Could Help Save Them” (NY Times, July 26, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Cove Island Park. June 27, 2021

T.G.I.F.



Notes:

  • Photo 1: The Robin Red Breast via Discovery.
  • Image 2: Artist Constructs Cube Animals. Aditya aryanto, an artist from indonesia, has imagined a surreal series of animals that take on a quirky, cubic form.
%d bloggers like this: