June 25, 2014:
Yesterday evening was classic summer in Montana. It got warm and sticky. The gray clouds over the mountains built.
Small sounds of thunder. Then the thunder gets closer. Soon, it is upon us. A loud crack. Rain comes pouring down.
After the rain, I went outside and just sat on a bench by the cabin. I wanted to see what would turn up.
Along the Blackfoot, you find three habitats merging: the river itself, the narrow band of riparian vegetation along the riverbank, and the forested woodland of Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-Fir.
I noticed a male and female Yellow-rumped Warbler foraging on the lowest branch of a fir situated right over the driveway. What were they up to? They fluttered and hovered, gleaned and investigated, but all in a very small area.
It took me awhile to realize they were searching for insects. Very close by, but well-hidden on top of a horizontal branch, was a mound of grasses and rootlets — their nest! And in it , three enormous youngsters with yellow gapes and pink mouths.
Finally, I went inside and got the spotting scope and set it up focusing on the nest. It was astonishing how hard the parent birds worked to feed the hungry nestlings. Sometimes the food items were so small you couldn’t tell there was anything in their bills, but other times a fly or worm could be seen. It all went down the hatch of the begging baby birds. And this occurred most of the day.
I wish I were a photographer. My attempts at digiscoping produced horrible results.
I love the way the robins and tanagers sing until 10 o’clock at night! Reminds me of England — the northern latitudes and the long, summer days. The birds begin singing at 4:30 a.m. and continue until past 10 p.m. They seem reluctant to rest even for the brief night.
And the noise of the river: I had forgotten how it is part of your life when you visit in summer. In winter, you’re simply in the cabin and you can’t feel that presence. But in summer, the constant sound of the river flowing by and the fascination of the moving water draws your eye back time and again. The river becomes the focus of all outdoor life.
Occasionally, I watch as a group of fishermen come downriver on their raft with their fly fishing rods out and I think to myself, how lovely for them floating on the river.
I like the float part, which I’ve done before, but I have never discovered the magic of fishing…….
But birding — now that IS magic — beside the Blackfoot, in late June, surrounded by conifers, with bird song everywhere!