6:18 a.m. (the *new* time). 30 degrees, wind SSE 4 mph. Sky: pink, vaporous
fingers in the east, coalesce in the west, an admirable vault. Permanent
streams: the first sign of ice gleams from petioles just above the current,
little shiny stems like freshly blown glass. Intermittent streams: alive
and well. Wetlands: marsh lightly frosted. Pond: three hooded mergansers,
one adult female and two juveniles. No sign of mink.
AOR: junco flock
Yesterday: myrtle warbler, female, lands on the pasture fence. Eats a small
red berry, yellow rump flashing. Then, off to New Jersey.
Three red-breasted nuthatches tooting in the pines. Chickadee investigating
the broken ends of pine branches finds something to his liking. Jays
everywhere and rowdy, back and forth across the road, screaming from tops
of pines, pasture fence, feeders, invisible avenues in the sky.
For anyone not already convinced: 1) We no longer have to look at images of
a hapless (and helpless) polar bear treading water or a collapsing
Antarctic icecap to see the effects of climate change. Black vultures,
which, forty years ago, barely crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, first nested
in Massachusetts in 1999, Connecticut in 2002, and have been seen as far
north as Bangor, Maine. I've seen them above Hadley, Massachusetts,
drifting north with an air of triumphant ascendancy. , Foraged in the
crucible of sun and rock, black vultures depend on columns of warm air
rising from outcrops and roads to stay aloft, moored to thermals as
sailboats to the wind. A short-winged, short-tailed vulture anywhere near
Vermont is a sign of a changing climate.
2) In the past decade, Lake Champlain only froze over *three* times, and in
January 2020, Vermont temperature ran 7.4 degrees warmer than normal.
Curious about Champlain's freezing records, I checked the NOAA website and
discovered that from 1816 to 1969, portions of the lake remained ice-free
*six* times, approximately four percent of the winters; then, between 1970
and 2016, the lake remained open twenty-six times, more than half the
3) And, on a personal level, the rattlesnakes I've been watching have
responded to a warming world. I'd visit dens from mid- to late-May in the
eighties when snakes basked beneath a filigree of nearly leafless branches.
Viewing season now often begins tentatively and tenuously in mid-April and
ends well before Memorial Day, when den-side basking rocks lie in full
The arrival of the black vulture in northern New England suggests the
climate warming *rapidly.* If our leaders continue to deny a link between
our lifestyles and a bipolar climate, who's to say we won't soon see king
vultures and Andean condors above the Connecticut River.