A thrush, because I’d been wrong,
Burst rightly into song
In a world not vague, not lonely,
Not governed by me only.
–On Having Misidentified a Wildflower, by Richard Wilbur
Despite our walls and our sanitized homes, we are not alone in this world. The bulk of the millions of other species rather unfairly keep getting regulated to smaller and smaller pockets. Sometimes they break out of the pockets and try to find new habitats in the world we took away from them.
This week, I had a bat in my bedroom.
[I have no pictures to confirm this story.]
I live in a 100-year old house that I am also renovating, and one of my windows in the back is sagging by an inch, which is apparently enough to let in bats. So I woke up at 2 am to the sound of a bat flying in circles in my bedroom. It took about an hour for the poor thing, who kept alternating circling my room and hanging on a wall panting, to fly out the window I had opened for it. It was probably far more scared than I was – I found it only a little freaky to have a bat rapidly circling me while I was trying to open a window, and then while trying to herd my cat out of the room, (as she wasn’t helping the situation by any means). But I wasn’t scared, and even once tried to herd the bat with a towel, before I determined I wasn’t helping the situation either. I then left the room, and let the bat figure out for itself that it no longer belonged in that pocket of the planet, but “outside.”
So this week became the week of wildlife. Because the adventure I had planned for this week was to go with my friend Amy and her father, an avid birder, to see the pocket of a wildlife sanctuary called Huntley Meadows, 1400 acres of meadows, woods, and marshes in the midst of suburban Alexandria, Virginia. Amy’s father pretty much goes every week to bird at Huntley Meadows. I had never been, but I have wanted for a while to get back outdoors into meadows and marshes, which I love.
Besides birding and wildflower admiring, I also was admittedly hoping to see a wild beaver, which is on my bucket list. But that didn’t happen. They live in Huntley Meadows, but we went a little late in the morning to see one (we got there around 9 am). Otherwise, we saw a decent number of birds, more than we expected for a nonmigratory time of the year.
The best sighting of the day (but worst picture)? Seeing an osprey dive and catch a sunfish, and then, just as it started heading back to its roost to eat it, a bald eagle comes in and tries to take it from him, diving and diving after the osprey to snatch the fish from its claws. This fight went on a good 5, maybe even 10 minutes, before the bald eagle gave up.
Other sights: great blue herons and egrets, of course. A kingfisher, a duck, a downy woodpecker, a red-bellied woodpecker, goldfinches, cardinal, catbird, hummingbird, swallows, crows (fish and American), snapping turtles, dragonflies, frogs, and snails, katydids, bees, and more. We also heard a Carolina wren, a pileated woodpecker, a red-shouldered hawk, and a barred owl.
Overall, it was a cool morning, with rain expected, so the place was quiet, and we could take our time. Amy, her father, and I shared a nice comradery as we walked the boardwalk and looked at wildlife and plants.
I won’t go into the background of Huntley Meadows. You can read it all here. I am just so very grateful that it has been protected. It was wonderfully beautiful, and peaceful. I needed some peace and perspective this week “…not governed by me only.”
[The top photo of us birding is by Amy Copeland. Thanks Amy.]