An odd little song, “tseeee-burr-REEP … tseee-burrr-REEP”, repeated and repeated, ventriloqual, of an elusive bird leads me around and around the bigger mesquites at El Potrero early this morning but I finally track it down to a small, greenish fluffball: Hutton’s Vireo. It looks so like a Kinglet, whose numbers are increasing here too, eight miles north of Mason Pastures.
I stare and stare at them (who could help it?) but I still can’t take seriously that the glowing embers of Vermillion Flycatchers are so soon back on what seems to be every fencepost at Mason’s. Their numbers have increased to the crowding point, and now pairs of males are already eyeing each other resentfully but don’t know why. There are no females yet, and when they arrive, oh buddy, watch out!
Three Flickers are in the native grass area, where the many sprangletops, gramas, bristlegrasses and dropseeds planted there last year are doing passably well and might even bring seeds for their own natural increase this Summer and Fall.
Only one pair of Mexican Mallards swims this morning, but brown duck feathers are spread all along one bank …
I’m resigned to the job of raising the stock fence along the Cascabel Road never having an end, but at least there are always many interesting creatures winged and running and burrowing to be a distraction between jacking out posts, or being wrapped round about with devil-inhabited coils of barbed wire, and the fuss of measuring the distance between each of the five ranks of wire that need attaching. The day is hot–over 80 degress, again we’re not yet at the end of February–and from across the road and out of the Saguaro Canyon comes that mysterious, descending singing again, only now I know this is not a bird, but a mammal: the Harris’s Antelope Squirrel. (A few words in a websearch line led me straight to recordings of various Arizona squirrels and chipmunks, and there it was to be heard at the click of an audio link! I already feel keenly the loss of that mystery, though.) The work of leveling the old ridges of grader-piled rocks and sand digs out many panicked centipedes, sundry bothered spiders and many Whiptail Lizards (undoubtedly Desert Grassland Whiptails) that run off lightning fast and which I’m always glad I haven’t accidentally cut in two with the shovel blade. And scorpions … lots of scorpions … two species at least, one kind gruesomely fat, cold blue with big yellow forceps-like pincers, the other small and black but no less fearsome. None are killed, of course, though maybe I’ve done so to others unknowingly as the project has continued over many a day.