Soon after dawn, the swarm begins to appear. They come in low, over the empty treetops. The magnitude of their numbers and the individual grace of each flight means these flocks flow like water over and around the landscape. They are mostly grackles but also redwings, cowbirds and starlings. They stream, pour, swirl, spill, roll, condense and explode. They vanish, of course—one by one, the thousands are into the cornfield.
Two weeks ago, my neighbor said, “Yup, they’re flocking up, getting ready to head south.” Indeed, they haven’t left yet. They now constitute a cloud—when they go overhead, the sound is enormous. There is a wind upon you, and it is that of their wings.
The eagles are back. Coursing out of the swamp along the pond, trailed by tiny crows, one flaps over Poxabogue. The bald eagles are majestic birds but brute thieves: They easily press others for their food. The osprey can attest to this. Though at this time of year I think it’s man’s hunting season that provides for the big carnivore. The bird scavenges the injured or un-retrieved prey. The rut, the insanity of deer, will produce more than a few road kills. To have bald eagles in Sagaponack is exciting for both the birder and the patriot.
Also interesting for the birder, and perhaps for another type of patriot, is that the reintroduction of wild turkeys has been relatively successful in Sagaponack, and there are numerous flocks to look out for. Turkeys are North America’s largest game bird; they can weigh up to 30 pounds. They existed in vast numbers before the arrival of white men. Once we got here and started celebrating Thanksgiving so regularly and heartily, the clever bird, no match for a musket, nearly vanished.
Things are different now. Thanksgiving is as popular as ever, but few diners actually hunt for this meal, or any meal. Subsequently, certain wild populations, like deer and perhaps wild turkeys, though they may not be living in the wild any longer, manage to adapt and thrive.
The blackbirds come back at the end of the day. They circle Madoo, the cemetery, the horse farm, our farm, and then gradually they fill the tallest trees. It does not seem possible that they all will fit, but they do. With their afternoon silhouettes, they briefly re-foliate the branches before upping again. It takes more than a minute for all of them to be gone.