It's a beautiful, beautiful day, and the magnolia out back is absolutely peaking--flowers open, no petals fallen yet. I spent part of today in the Brooklyn back yard, and planted two clematis "Bonanza" [take that, Little Joe] that with any luck will grow and hide the neighbors' bench. The bench sits just behind my back fence, right where--they tore out a magnificent, full-grown mock orange when they moved in five years ago. They are very nice people, if misguided, but that doesn't mean I want to feel like they are sitting in my back yard every time they use their bench! I might throw in some morning glories for a quick screen. The real whining for today isn't about those neighbors, or the lost, wonderful mock orange that hung over the fence, giving off its fragrance every May. No, it's the massive house sparrow convention, held all day every day, at the bird feeder of my other
abutting neighbor. Why can't these birdies have a decent song? Why is it the only kind of bird hanging around? Why do they peck off my rosebuds? Why do they leave seed husks all over my flowerbed? And how is it possible that this bird, that I am afraid I consider almost a pest, is actually declining in its home country, Britain?! It's such a paradox. If only the birds ate the aphids that will also be visiting my rosebuds! Then I'd change my tune. I will get my "hit" of wonderful bird species next week, when I go on a birdwalk in Central Park...the pine and palm warblers are reportedly back in the park, with only more and more fabulous birds to come over this spring migration season...the walk leader, Starr Saphhir, who is affiliated with the NYC Audobon folks, can identify a bird flying high overhead, behind her--her skills are that awesome! And she makes sure that even the dunderhead in the group, meaning moi, gets to see every bird by giving amazingly specific, careful descriptions of the spot in a given tree, or which rock fifty feet ahead on the ground, that harbors the bird. Can't wait to get a case of "warbler neck," which is the crick you get after looking straight up into a tall tree to see the littlest beautiful thing hopping from branch to branch. Well worth the aches--a morning of birding the Park brings such a rush of happiness, I'm nearly addicted in springtime. Gotta go find my bird guides and start brushing up on my identifying skills!