Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Loss


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Yesterday, near the end of a long drive, I stopped at a shrubby field that has been a reliable autumn and winter location for Northern Harrier, Brown Thrasher, Bobolink, White-crowned Sparrow, American Kestrel, and Merlin. When this field floods during spring and fall, it is a wonderful place to see migrating ducks; I've been thrilled to see Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler here, two relatively rare ducks and real beauties.

I sat there for a few minutes, enjoying the quiet and the subtle autumn colors in the trees around the field. Flossy milkweed seeds floated like snowflakes from their bursting seed pods, which showed dark brown against the russet grasses. Little birds – probably sparrows and some Palm Warblers – flitted in and out of the weeds, which were loaded with seeds. A skein of geese winged overhead and settled on the little lake that spread out beyond the hedgerow and tree-lined bank. Their sharp two-note calls rang pleasantly over the water, and I heard the rattle of a Belted Kingfisher from behind the little island.

As I looked over the landscape, I reflected on how important this little piece of land – 8 acres or so? – was for wintering birds, and I was glad that it had been preserved. I felt this gratitude especially keenly in light of the recent decision of the town immediately to the south to destroy a field which offers similar habitat and has also been a haven for grassland birds in our area. (I wrote about that loss here.)

When I got home, I flipped through the local newspaper that had just arrived in the mail. It was bad enough to see “P&Z approves special permit for regional fire training facility,” which added more painful detail to the loss of the favorite meadow referred to at the link above.

But there was another headline that caused a stab: “P&Z approves application for sports field expansion.”

That field I described in the first paragraph above?

It will be destroyed to make a soccer field and parking lot.

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