May 2, 2013

The Stockpond is alive with birds, among them a single (shouldn’t it be so?) Solitary Sandpiper hunts the shore, unafraid of me; if past observation holds this will be the one day he is with us, on his way to Canada or Alaska and he’s loading fuel for a trip over vast deserts that lie between this mud and Idaho. Summer Tanager males are increasing in numbers (who’d complain?) and into the middle of them and some oddly olive-tinted Song Sparrows and a whole lot of frantic Yellow-rumped Warblers comes screeching and rattling a male Belted Kingfisher, which after the middle of April is in these parts a great rarity. He is elegantly beautiful, and appears to be coming up with fish in his big and splashy dives into the pool from the overhanging mesquite branches from which he’d knocked the tanagers, but there’s not supposed to be any fish in this pond. I’m unable to get a better look at what he’s preying on before he leaves and it’s doubtful I see him again.

As I make rounds through Pasture #2(south), a large rosette of a Milk Thistle jumps into sight–incredibly prickly and incredibly attractive but out it must come, without remorse. A number of us spent a lot of time a year ago removing every plant of that dangerously invasive species we could find, from tiny seedlings to large ones in beautiful lilac-colored flower. A year ago they were in almost every pasture, but the removal of the one today I hope marks the extirpation of this troublesome Eurasian “weed” from Mason’s. It may be only a matter of time before more appear, since this exotic is coming at us from at least three directions: south towards Cascabel on the road from Pinal County, northwest from roadside thick with it outside Dragoon, northeast from the verge of the freeway from Tucson on the edge of Benson. Vehicle tires may have most to do with this, though I know of the plant being grown in pots for its beauty and for its reported medicinal properties.