September 18, 2006

"Call a soft, clear, whistled heh"

Taking the dogs for a quick walk up the ridge behind the house to check the "bear camera " (of which more later) . The woods are quiet except for a rabbit, who hops safely into thick brush. The temperature is just above freezing.

I am thinking of bears because the mast crop around here is pitiful. Not an acorn in sight. One year is abundant; the next is scant. It does not always seem to tie directly to moisture but just to some cycle of the Gambel oak. If moisture is the key, then the dry spring is to blame, but I think there must be some cycle of fruitfulness followed by exhaustion too.

The black bears have stripped the wild plums along Hardscrabble Creek. One day there were green plums, and I was thinking about picking some when they ripened, but almost immediately they were all gone.

From the scat in the driveway, it looks as though the bears found the neighbor's apple trees too. But what to eat when the apples are all gone? Are there acorns in a different patch of woods?

I hear one bird, a Townsend's solitaire, its regular one-note whistled call the metronome of coming winter. Molto largo, please, maestro.


Steve Bodio said...

In the Magdalenas today, on the trail on the other side of the saddle we hiked to a couple of years ago, I heard the same notes and thought the same thoughts...

Jake Allsop said...

My only Townsend's Solitaire was in a town called Julian in the Cuyamacas in San Diego County. An autumn record of two in a tree on a side street, and most unexpected. I go to SoCal to visit my daughter and family, but my goodness, the birding is wonderful!