April 12, 2013

One Mallard, the male, on the water today. A pair of Yellow Warblers are in chase with each other, around and around the Stockpond, and around … and around …

Another kingbird, I think a Western by its voice, arrived. Rough-winged Swallows have been increasing, but none over the pastures this whole day. There are a few Meadowlarks, though. Many Vesper Sparrows in the weedy edges and on the barbed wire crossfences, surely they are about to become more scarce; this was the most abundant of the wintering sparrows this year. The wrens, ah yes, the wrens, still tease in the pasture of lush winter graze, to which they’ve all moved over from a couple risers to the south. Seems they prefer yet-to-be-eaten-off, above-the-knee-deep bluegreen oats and barley, the cattle having gone into the wrens’ old area and taken it down to about one foot tall with all the efficiency of a tractor mower, leaving the stumpy culms from the tips of which will sprout a new shoot and then sets of leaves.

A fearless and friendly Gray Flycatcher pops up here and there as I do one chore or another, on a fenceline or in the mesquite tangled edges, pumping its tail as the species so distinctly does. They must be on the move, I hadn’t seen one the whole of winter here. Another species, an insect, came along today, one that in all other years I have seen in every month: the Tarantula Hawk. Those January days of a cold that froze over the Stockpond must’ve had an effect on their movements, if not their survival. It’s the first I’ve seen since Christmas.

Field Bindweed coming into bloom in the pastures–a noxious plant, but pretty as any hanging basket flower in a garden center and cattle are mad for it. Pat often wishes there were enough of it to bale, and use later.

A Red-tailed Hawk is acting like no other in my acquaintance, though the behavior is reported in mountainous territory with knife-edge ridges and strong updrafts. It was back again today, facing into the wind with all the moves of a Kestrel–barely flapping, suspended in one place with tail fanned out widely and using it brilliantly as rudder, hangs high up there for a long time, then drops like a stone from that place stationary in the strong spring gusts and onto some witless creature on the ground.