Saturday, September 26, 2009

The night the vultures dropped in

First, in the very late afternoon, lying out on the lawn chairs, Larry & I saw them way up high, circling. Many of them, maybe 18 or 2 dozen, so high & small we could barely see they were birds, and they were grey against the sky, not black. We guessed turkey vultures, because we couldn't think of what else would be in such a large group, soaring, circling in a "kettle".

Then, without my seeing their actual arrival, they were dropping into the large Ponderosa pines south of the house, slightly downhill. It was still just light enough to try to get a few photos that night. This one was taken the next morning, Sept 26, 2007. I waited a couple of hours and took the later bus to school, hoping to get a shot of them as they flew.

Instead, they sat in the trees in sunny spots, or flew to the large black oak to the east of the house and stretched their wings out in the sun. I could just hear them saying "Mornin' Joe. Cup of coffee?" as they woke up slowly.

Meanwhile, out from under the same pine trees came a flock of wild turkeys, a dozen or so, industriously scratching for their breakfasts. I can see why Benjamin Franklin admired them.

Even by the time I had to catch the bus to school at 9:30, they had not left, still waiting for their thermal. As the bus pulled out, I could see just the first few rising slowly.*

That afternoon when I got home from school, I went straight to the window, but unfortunately without the camera. There they were, 2 dozen of them, circling down just above the treetops, deciding if they were coming here again. A breathtaking sight.

*My Young Wilderness Professional book-club friend tells me that they migrate that way, by rising very high on a thermal, then gliding down to the next one. And I guess this south slope makes a good one.

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