Walking and breathing muttering under my breath the names of great cities of the world London, Tokyo, New York When your only tool is a cement truck, everything looks like a metropolis New Delhi, Amsterdam, Paris That blue tent is still pitched in the wooded patch by the freeway New Orleans, Toronto, Sydney I take cuttings from my babbling stream of thoughts and cast them in concrete Berlin, Cairo, Los Angeles All the surfaces are soon spattered with the stain of life busy covering up the mess I've made Body, Speech, Mind
Up in a tree near my car at the park. Condiment packet had a blue label so I don’t think it was ketchup, maybe mayonnaise? Tore it open and chowed down, he did. I next saw him perched on the rim of the nearest trash barrel, appetite whetted, ready for more.
Featherless freaks thin skinned fur poachers look what all we traded to be brainy enough to have worries. Shivers are the hoarse song poking in to the tune of life where our molecules shudder and shrink and malfunction in the sluggish low frequencies that will withdraw the very beats from our hearts should our adaptations fail.
Here in Texas we are maneuvering our way back to normal after a shock of extreme weather knocked things about. The agency here that governs power grid management is more aligned with Enron-style market games than it is with the public good, so wish us luck.
Photo: Northern Mockingbird on a cold morning, (CC-BY-SA) 2021, G. Paul Randall
in the end
the folds will close, and
nothing will you save
so tell me how
the resolute are pious
stout and brave
the end is nigh
but by and by, tomorrow
rise and shave
it’s better whistling
in the air, than turning
in your grave
Whistlers first appeared in The Poetry Bar, July 6, 2019.
So how much would you likely pay to have yourself a sunny day? We'd like to pay the bill in cloud if that might somehow be allowed. As currency a cloud is very like the dollars that we carry. All puffed up with value there but marking what is actually air. All pomp and cheer when we have money but when it's gone it's not so funny. We go to pay the tab that's due what now? Your wallet's clear and blue.
Photo: close-up of an avocado, with effects. (CC) 2021, G. Paul Randall
More bird action from Houston’s bayous and parks. (21 photos) Houston Heights Bird Sanctuary, Woodland Park Bird Sanctuary, Buffalo Bayou, Brays Bayou, and White Oak Bayou.
Buffalo Bayou is home to a large bat colony at the Waugh Street bridge and I got to watch a Red-shouldered Hawk trying repeatedly to snatch a bat from under there. It would swoop up to one of the narrow crevices where they nest, and then rebound as there is no perch. The hawk posed for me in a nearby tree in between attempts. It left empty-taloned as far as I could tell. I see red-shoulders here most every visit and believe this to be home territory for at least two.Continue reading “Bayou Birds”
There’s a variety of woodsy enclaves within Houston’s sprawling metropolitan car colony, including the Central Park of the South, Memorial Park, as well as a number of bayou parks. Little islands where the cars are not allowed and they have to sit in lots while their owners walk around pretending that nature still exists. I gravitate to these spaces and manage to find some wildlife to photograph as well.
Due to the ceaseless work of bacteria and fungi, dead things gradually melt back into the biosphere which is cyclically alive, trees falling into the hungry mouth of tomorrow’s forest, like eggs laying chickens.
First bird outing of the year was not bad at all. Encountered a small flock of these little seed-eaters at White Oak Bayou and was confounded as to what they were. Similar looking to female Indigo Bunting, but the bill size and shape eliminated that, plus there’s these scale-patterned black and white feathers popping out on the breast. Turns out to be the last featured bird in Sibley 2nd, the Nutmeg Mannikin or Spice Finch, another Houston area import/escapee from Asia. These are immature, as the adults have a scaled breast.
You can see on the right-hand specimen the lack of wing bar markings, good tell that these are not one of our grosbeaks. Without these photos to study I’d have never figured it out, I think. Always a thrill to find a bird that sends you into research mode.
Also seen there, a large flock of American Robin, a strikingly beautiful bird seen up close in detail.
And the Red-bellied Woodpecker, same time and place. A fast moving flock of Cedar Waxwing also came through. Only the second time I’d seen these, and the experience was the same: good sized flock appears out of nowhere, and disappears soon thereafter. Later at Buffalo Bayou I spend some time with a pair of Blue-headed Vireo and was unable to claim a satisfying photo.
Moving on later that morning to the Houston Arboretum I saw only a single Eastern Phoebe and a Yellow-rumped Warbler, then headed to the Eastern Glades at Memorial Park to acquire another life-bird, the Least Grebe shown above. These range down through Central America with parts of Texas being the north-most boundary of its range.
I set out early Saturday morning to camp on the beach at Bolivar Peninsula’s west end. I have converted the RAV4 into a micro-camper and wanted to give the new fixings another test run. I spent the morning in Galveston and took the ferry to Bolivar around noon.
The jeep photo was not desaturated or converted to B&W and the sky above that cloud bank was a bright grayish peach.
Sunrise on the gulf just East of the entrance to the Houston ship channel.
The tip of the peninsula is cordoned off for the bird sanctuary, east of this the beach is lined with camping rigs of various sorts and sizes. Ten dollar parking pass gets you a year of beach camping here, so it’s a fairly popular spot for RVs. Lots of birdlife with many wintering species staying here for the season without the burden of a ten dollar pass.
A vast winter sky holds no position in particular, but binds all within it to an inter-connectivity which teaches all things how to be.
Found this birder at the ship channel on the Galveston side before taking the ferry to Bolivar. Those are (mostly) Black Skimmers on the sandbar, wintering here by the hundreds every season.
One of the legendary Bolivar Mosquitoes. I photographed this one on the window glass after having had its fill of my bodily fluids and wishing then to escape. You’re welcome. A steady gulf breeze tends to keep them inland but that dies down at night and they will find you if you’re up and about early like I always am.
I intend to do some traveling next year, so expect more travelogue type stuff here. I will write another poem when one occurs to me and not before.
Caught this red-tail picking at the body of some little critter just off the busy path at the Eastern Glades, Memorial Park, Houston, TX.
Chipping Sparrow in a small flock at Houston Arboretum, early the same day.
Snowy Egret at Brays Bayou, Houston.
Buffalo Bayou offers some nice wooded walkways right in the heart of the metropolitan bustle.