Travelling and Robin Anomalies
Ironically, we go home to go on vacation – we have a “rustic” cottage which hasn’t changed much in 103 years, with the last remodeling nearly 40 years ago. For being our only home – in California we live literally in the business – the cottage is not suitable for cold weather – there’s no insulation. The water system is not protected and the incoming water from a shallow well is not buried beneath the frost line.
I am writing this from the western shore of Lake Winnipeg during one of the coldest summers in recent memory. The mosquitoes are small and nasty and there are thousands. Summer’s heat usually diminishes their habitat and their number. This summer the cool and the rain ensure substantial habitat and numbers.
We spoke to a landmark of a man, Rick Warner, whose mom probably sold this cottage to Joan’s parents 44 years ago. Rick manages a variety of summer cottages for their owners and provides security through most of the year the cottages are unoccupied. He always greets us – and a raconteur, tells us about the past 11 months activities.
Yesterday he dropped-in when he saw our van. He told us that one of his friends, a “birder” reports that the migratory birds didn’t return to their summer habitats. This report was startling because I had seen either very early arriving or very late departing robins at the inn last week.
Later, yesterday afternoon, I searched for information on the missing migratory water fowl and found that many of the Canadian nesting areas were still snow covered in early June. Returning geese, for example, were nesting a month later. Other birds may not have returned at all. Ornithologists noted that the gestation period and time required for a new generation of birds to mature to a point that they can migrate assure that this year is a breeding season that will not maintain the population of the different species.
While the breeding grounds are covered by snow, ironically global warming’s impact is pushing summer nesting areas for many species further north – from just a few miles to hundreds of miles. And then there is the issue of robins at the Inn: Last week, I phoned my aunt from the front gardens of the inn. She lives in Paris, Illinois, a town in southeastern Illinois. She worked for Zenith until she was 75 and is now retired. We were talking about her parrot who she had acquired to grow up with her two girls. In the middle of this conversation, a robin landed in the recently water garden in front of me searching for a late lunch. A robin! In the summer, during the dry months. Usually robins appear in late October, sometimes later, to spend the winter. They are joined by killdeer and a host of other wintering birds. But never have I seen a robin on the Coast in the midst of summer. And he wasn’t the only one – I heard at least one other chirping in the bushes.
A summer of bird anomalies – but for us a true vacation – vacating our ordinary concerns to explore: to do things that exposes ourselves to our selves in different ways – if nothing more than thinking about birds.