It’s gray today. Or perhaps grey. I'm never sure. And foggy, when it’s not raining. In other words, the day is about as gloomy as a day can be. Sound travels better in the thick air, making distant sounds audible and nearer sounds louder and jarring. Baby Dog skittered and barked when something over by the paintball fields clattered to the ground, not even making a loud sound. Even her barks sounded louder to me.
Early this morning a pileated woodpecker, loud on any day of the year, announced its presence as it flew from tree to tree, landing for just a moment or two before taking off for the next tree. It was, apparently, on some kind of woodpecker mission about something, but its goal was not clear to either human or canines.
A great blue heron stalked the edge of the pond, eyeing me warily but not flying off. Most of them have migrated, though a few always hang around. I’ve even seen them in snow, standing in a cold, rushing stream and looking miserable. The warm weather so far this December has likely kept this one from rushing further south and gives it no reason to look miserable, at least not at the moment.
Over by another pond, I hear the rattle of a belted kingfisher, another bird that can be seen more or less all year when open water remains. They disappear in an instant when everything freezes shut but somehow manage to reappear just as quickly on the first warm day when the water is flowing again, even temporarily.
I saw turkey vultures last evening, 6 or 7 of them. They rarely disappear over the winter entirely. Even after a heavy snow, I can often find them on the first sunny day after a storm. Where they go during the storms is anyone’s guess and something I’ve always wondered about. It can’t be far, but it’s not here.
For the moment, Roundtop is a stopping point for these birds. Most will stay as long as the weather holds. The woodpecker will stay regardless of the weather. The heron and the vultures are likely from further north, as the local birds of those species moved out several weeks ago. The presence of these birds here today tells me winter is approaching, even if it gives no immediate sign of arriving.