Hampton Beecher Preserve. Seven Thirty on a Friday morning in August. We are greeted by a chimney swift (they have learned to nest in these), mockingbirds, a fish crow off course or perhaps happy enough to find the Utoy Creek, garbage crusted but now running clean.
Towhees, cardinals, titmouse, nuthatches, Carolina wren. Chatting, fussing, protecting what remains of Southern hardwood, pine, and native bushes; telling each other what they are and where they are, warning as we pass by.
A hawk circles the power line easement, accidental meadow. I spot a drably colored hummingbird in the wetland grasses, rare this year. Too soon to tell if they are bypassing or vanishing.
Hundreds of years old first growth forest chopped down for lumber, for re-construction (and profit) after the Civil War. Only the flawed trees remain: lightning seared, beaver gnawed, axe grazed, healing over their wounds.
Wood owls have disappeared (or nearly).
The migratory flyway still appears green on green but wrong. We see less and less of the Cerulean warbler, small sky-blue bird, and a species of concern that does not recognize this habitat or perhaps it is the cell towers that dwarf the familiar resting places. They fly on, exhausted.
Flycatcher. Eastern wood-peewee. Red-eyed vireos. A downy woodpecker. I record them on my smartphone notepad. Their calls fade as the heat rises. Fourteen birds captured for a life list. I do not know enough to know what once was here and lives no more.