We love to spot wildlife on our outings, walking or biking. We often spy great blue herons on our travels, and we try to stop to watch.
Sometimes I simply have to look out my window to spot a real life drama developing. We have blueberry bushes in our backyard that are quite attractive to birds. So much so that we have to net them to permit us a share of what the bushes produce.
This netting comes with a price. Earlier this summer I found a female oriole simultaneously gobbling blueberries and crashing into the netting that had imprisoned her. Moving quickly, I opened up one side of the netting and walked deep into the bushes, hoping she would fly away from me toward the opening, which she did. Yes, she had left some berries on the bushes for us.
Some branches of the blueberries have poked up through the top and out the side of the netting, attracting squirrels and sparrows. I check each morning when I wake, hoping the wildlife remain the outside of the netting, which I have worked to secure more carefully.
I looked out one morning to see a sparrow was busily seeking berries on the branches outside the netting, when suddenly a Red-tailed Hawk swooped into the clearing. For the next ten minutes the raptor soared back and forth across the opening in the trees, hunting for its next meal.
Repeatedly, it flew onto the top of the netting, hoping to spot the elusive sparrow.
Finally accepting defeat, the hunter moved on in hopes of surprising a less alert prey. I never spotted the sparrow. Either it had slipped away before the hawk had even arrived, or it had found a safe hiding place amongst my blackberries or other scrubby bushes on the edge of the yard. What a humbling reminder of the difficult life these hunters live, with success being the exception, not the norm.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then