May 12, 2013

For a good while I suspected there was a leak in the underground irrigation lines, but where it was didn’t become known until an entire riser finally disattached itself all the way and must’ve blown like a missile from a silo into the air in Pasture #4. Once that was fixed, the increase in leftover psi was enough to have the pond-filling hydrant continue to spray a little shower out over the water through the night even after the system was shut down. A fine male Black-chinned Hummingbird liked this a lot, and was there darting in and out of the little arcs of droplets when I arrived.

Sunlight is just hitting the tops of the cliffs when I return to The Stockpond after I get the irrigation up, and I stop to eat a bowl of oatmeal and watch birds through the truck windshield, too shaky to continue the work I’d been doing on the energy of the one banana eaten before I started at that moment an hour before when there was hardly enough light to see. I come back to find one of the hummingbirds lowering himself into a Sitzbad at the water surface at the base of the riser and though one might think this would be sufficiently satisfying to him, oh no!–he spied a female who’d come along to land on the hydrant base to get a drink, and he flew up without delay and chased her right off the pond. (Females are still to be seen almost exclusively coming to that hydrant, knowing as they do what will happen to them if a male sees them drinking from the pond itself or even approaching its surface …) A half dozen or more male Black-chinned come along to the now much heavier shower spraying out of hydrant ‘s mouth, dance back and forth through the spray mid-air like a team rough-housing it in the shower, no females allowed. It is sheer exhibitionism, Life’s Will to Life, a chittering enthusiasm of Mind. I am reminded that in the tropics few birds come to waterfalls because of how the sound muffles the approach of a predator, but that this doesn’t apply to hummingbirds there, either. What can touch them? Well, I did once see children in Jamaica knocking off the eye-popping endemic ribbon-tailed “Doctor Bird” hummers from the acalypha hedges with slingshots, to take home and make shish-ka-birds. In Costa Rica I came on a lovely high waterfall in a jungled setting just back of a beach and sure enough, the only creatures around that water were hummingbirds, which came tumbling into the void before the cataract out of the air over the stream above, like jewels spilled from a green velvet bag.

A pair of Gray Hawks have been calling back and forth for three days.