Late October morning

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Maple leaf by the pond.

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Frosty raspberries in the garden.

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These raspberries fruit in June too.

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American Robin in the winterberry.

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Bittersweet.

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This winterberry grew wild here by the garden.

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White-throated sparrow.

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I saw a flock of these sparrows mixed with lots of juncos yesterday on a walk along the old rail line in town.

 

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Radar carries a small log across the frosted grass, back field.

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A bit of color left by the pond house.

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Today is the day the ginkgo out front will start dropping all its leaves, dramatically. We can stand at the window now and watch them fall. Nothing gold can stay, right?

Tell the snow it’s spring

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Rare sight: American Robin at a feeder. I thank the earth(worm)-covering white stuff.

Chance of light snow was in the forecast, then it started to snow and kept at it all day. The feeders were very busy. The ground is snow-covered again.

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A male Goldfinch and female Purple Finch at the nyjer feeder.

It is meteorological Spring (March, April, May) though astronomical Spring is not until March 20. The weathermen say it was the warmest winter for at least the last 60 years in New Hampshire and many other places.

Weather.com: Record Warm Winter for Many in New England; Record Wet in South Florida and Seattle

Robins at dawn

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Flocks of fat American Robins perching to face the sunrise, then moving through the trees, high and low, plucking winterberries from gray branches, leaving birdy footprints in the last white patches of melting snow as they pursue the fallen berries.

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It is much easier to notice robins in winter. There are more of them, in their foraging flocks, and they are not down in the dirt, devoted to pulling worms. The ground is mostly frozen and the worms are… sleeping? What happens to earthworms in winter, I wonder.

Morning in our back woods

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American Robin, one of hundreds on the move through our backyard and the Seacoast right now.

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Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. the dog and I took a walk way out back, to the edge of the red maple swamp.

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Nice to see the creek flowing freely, ice all gone. Snow is patchy, which is a vast improvement over three feet deep.

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Moon, white pine, red maple.

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Robins are year-rounders here, but only in small flocks. This spring I’m seeing more robins than I have ever noticed before. Maybe the hard, late winter held them back and they are all migrating at once.

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The dog sniffs the tracks of a Great Blue Heron that stalked between swamp and pond edge earlier in the morning.

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It’s nice to have a companion and fellow explorer of the morning.

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The quintessential early bird, American Robins are common sights on lawns across North America, where you often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground. Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter.

Robins are welcome to our winterberries

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American Robin on a bleak day.

Small flocks of robins have been criss-crossing our back field and woods. They don’t come close to the house this time of year. They prefer the red maple swamp.winterberry

Winterberry grows wild and abundant there. Bluebirds like it too.

Ilex verticillata is our only native deciduous holly. It is attractive not only to birds but to otherwise nice ladies who like to decorate their homes with branches of “wild” winterberry … cut from other peoples’ yards. You start to see them stopping along the roads just before Thanksgiving and up until Christmas, stepping out of their cars with pruning shears in hand.

We have some winterberry planted (by my husband) near our mailbox. When I see a car slow down by our eye-catching red berry bushes, I open the front door and release my Tibetan mastiffs Fang and Claw. Just kidding.

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The red maple swamp is good for wildlife… and good for owning land without paying a lot in property tax.

I’d like to see the drive-by winterberry harvesters try to get some of those decorations. Pruning shears and hip waders required.

Ubiquitous worm eaters

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I am perfectly still.

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Then I am running.

American Robins are often found running around on the lawn, stopping sometimes to pull worms out of it. Sometimes they hold very still, waiting for some worm clues.

But this afternoon I also watched a couple of them rustling around awkwardly and atypically in a bush in the backyard.

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I went over to inspect the bush and found that the first blueberries are ripening. I guess they like a bit of blueberry pie for dessert after worms.

American Robins are industrious and authoritarian birds that bound across lawns or stand erect, beak tilted upward, to survey their environs.