May 1, 2013

The month when arrives Ferocious Foresummer, or, “your Hell” as our human snowbirds think of it. Northern species of real bird will all soon have followed similar instincts that tell them to get out, too,¬†as drought and temperatures increase and the humidity drops and drops, and meanwhile summer birds (“neotropicals”) will continue to make their first arrivals for a while.

Fragile-looking, small grasshoppers fly up as I walk through the grass and I go about attending to wheel lines–these insects are a delicate, dusty and pale mauve color, with wings edged neatly in black: Victorian widow ladies still in crepe trim. (Except for the next day, I would not see this species again. Such a life history is to be wondered over.)

A male Phainopepla on The Lane, giving out his breeding-time song privy to those few people who live on the desert every day much as he does. It has a quality like no other, like a rill of water splashing shortly over one set of rocks and then another in some narrow slot canyon where droplets fall through secret Maidenhair Fern and vanish softly into moss.

The ant-circles have come awake, a warning that it’s time to beware of one’s every footfall and especially where not to stand absent-mindedly. Giant ants the rich color of polished Honduran mahogany, are marching out in a quickly expanding territory and stripping every last leaf and seedling, and are carrying back to their cavern in the center of their bare circle such booty got from the still flourishing winter pasture. I’m more than happy to leave them alone to do their so-valuable service of turning and aerating soil packed by cow hooves, and to their plowing of compost into the ground. I’m very glad they leave me alone as well but one does have to learn a certain knack (and healthy wariness!) of living with them.

A single Blue Grosbeak, gloriously colored, comes to balance for a few moments on a wheel line pipe close to me. The bird is usually rare this early, and its full numbers should probably not be expected to arrive on the San Pedro for weeks but all bets seem off this year.