Sills, Jonathan – January 2015

“I sit in happy meditation on my rock, pondering, while my line dries again, upon the ways of trout and men. How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new things some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook. Even so, I think there is some virtue in eagerness, whether its object prove true or false. How utterly dull would be a wholly prudent man, or trout, or world!”

-pg. 39, “A Sand County Almanac,” Aldo Leopold

For my first month of nature recordings, I went out to some land near my parent’s home and practiced what Aldo spoke about. Walking for some time then finding a spot to sit and watch as things unfolded. Even over the course of a month, there were small changes to find such as the few trees that had held onto their leaves finally dropping the dead ones in anticipation for spring. Even the recent rain has made its mark, leaving small waterways around the land where the ground had not seen rain for a while.

In my first week out of the month, I tried mostly to spot animals and identify any of the larger trees near the path that I follow. Coming to a clearing with a few mesquite and hackberry trees, I decide to sit for a while and watch. Aside from a few mockingbirds and dove, I only see a few other birds, who quickly jolt before I get the chance to identify them.

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For the second week, things are still fairly cold out and so I opt out of sitting in a spot in the wet cold for straying off the path into the tallgrass nearby. I pass through what can only be described as a minefield of fire ant mounds and quickly move on for a more promising resting spot. I hike on until I find a tall red oak and sit under its cover for a quick bit just to check out if there are any inhabitants nearby. Aside from jittery grey squirrel and a large black beetle that I couldn’t identify. Near the tree, I check under some rocks and find a few grubworms and centipedes and decide to move on.

Coming to another area with a few cedar trees I notice some larger Black Vultures around the edge of one of the cedars. Knowing something’s dead and that there’s a bird congregation that’ll probably take flight if too many notice me I stay further back and try to keep a perimeter around the birds that I follow to get a better site. Rounding the corner, I get a better view of the situation, where a group of the black vultures wait further back as a Crested Caracara goes for the remains of some poor raccoon. After a bit, I go over chasing off all the birds and see some berries around the raccoon, so I guess he had some accidental poisoning.

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A few weeks later and the weather is starting to get to a nice 70’s range.  As I walk through the tall grass I keep noticing these tough pods scattering the ground every now and then. Busting one open I find a pack of seed with light hairs that carry them in the wind. Finding out they are Milkweed, and fairly important to Monarch butterflies, I try to spread the seeds I did open so they have some chance to grow, then head off.

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