Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Breeding Season

I gave a talk late yesterday afternoon at Professor Vincent Breslin's course for environmental education grad students at Southern Connecticut State University (it's a good deal -- every couple of semesters Vince uses my book as a text, which means I sell a couple a dozen copies, and in exchange I visit his class and get to rehearse my performance while he gets to sit and listen instead of teaching). I was done by 6:30 or so and headed out across the parking lot. The remains of the sunset had left a streak of light above the western horizon, and West Rock was silhouetted against the sky. I was on the phone with my wife, to let her know when I’d be home, when a woodcock flew past me from behind, about 10 feet above my head, and zig-zagged away over the acres of parking lots, searching maybe for an open patch from which to launch its spring courtship display.

This morning’s Stamford Advocate has an interesting column, by Peter Davenport, about a search for woodcocks in an unlikely place.

Earlier yesterday afternoon, when the afternoon sun finally emerged, peepers were calling from the woods near my house, but at night, in the cold, they were silent. Further south and a bit to the west though, in Greenwich, they were out. Tom Baptist, the executive director of Audubon Connecticut and a good naturalist, sent me this e-mail:

For the first time this spring, tonight I can hear the calls of Spring Peepers chirping unanimously, almost bird-like, from a manmade wetland just downhill from my residence. I am heartened and moved by the moment. I'm reminded of the importance of connecting people with nature. If divorced from nature, people will not learn from nature, respect nature, or defend nature.

I long for this moment each spring, energized by the tenacity, persistence, and resilience of wildlife, and hopeful that those same hardy amphibians will similarly inspire future conservationists, ultimately, to become resolved to act in their defense, for their protection and preservation, for our benefit and theirs.

And finally, ospreys have returned to the vast salt marsh at the mouth of the Housatonic River. Check out Connecticut Audubon’s “osprey cam.”


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