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The Mast-Head: Nature’s Alarm

Wed, 05/12/2021 - 19:44

I had a feeling that Tuesday morning was going to be weird. When Weasel, the Lab mix, rousted me around 4:30 to go outside, the peeper frogs in the swamp were especially worked up and a whippoorwill sang from a tree in the driveway so close that I could hear a clicking he made between choruses. Click. Whip-poor-will. Click. I went back upstairs and put my head down on a pillow.

About an hour later I was jolted awake by what seemed to be a car alarm either very close to or actually inside the house. Whatever it was, it rang out once then was silent. Was it a carbon monoxide detector, I wondered. No. A house wren was inside, flying around the sunroom. I had left the door ajar for the dog and the wren had taken advantage to make an exploratory run. I opened the door wide, and told the bird to shut up and go away, which it did.

As I watched it fly off into the brush, my eye was pulled by a blur of movement. A ruby- throated hummingbird, the first I had ever seen in Amagansett, was darting among the blossoms on my spindly apple tree. He — the rednecks are all men — sped among the clusters of blooms. For a moment it broke away to chase an insect then returned to its work before disappearing in an instant.

In general, bird life has seemed especially vigorous this spring. Things I have noticed include more first-year ospreys around than I can recall and a few bald eagles, one of which I watched as it was perched on the very top of a giant radio tower behind East Hampton Town Hall, sharply harried by a much smaller bird. And something has been pooping on the cars, repeatedly, as if it is trying to tell us something.

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