One of the little bushes just outside the window of my office rustled, so much so that they caught my eye. A black furry tail poked out of the bush; one of the fat black squirrels 1 that lives on the church grounds was in the bush. I was surprised that it bore its weight.
Five minutes went by. The bushes started rustling again. This time, it was a gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). I realized that a couple of Oregon Juncos (Junco hyenalis oreganus) were chirping at the squirrel; maybe the juncos were nesting in the bush and the squirrel was going after their eggs! I ran outside and scared the squirrel away. I looked quickly in the bush for a nest, didn’t see one, then retreated into my office because if there is a nest I don’t want to drive the birds away from it.
The juncos are still noisily chirping away. The squirrels have returned to stealing food from the trash cans. I still don’t know if there’s a nest out there or not.
A gray squirrel came back (perhaps the same one again), and nosed around beneath the bushes outside my window. A junco harassed it constantly, chirping, flying at the squirrel’s head, causing the squirrel to duck and twitch. At last the squirrel gave up, and scampered off with the junco chasing it.
1 Melanistic form of the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), an invasive species which has been introduced into the San Francisco Bay region.
Today was the last day of the downtown farmer’s market. I got there at five, and the three farmers who showed up were already packing up their trucks. But Mary Merhi stayed open long enough for me to get a fedw butternut saquash to put by, and a dozen eggs. Noelle Tripp stayed around long enough for me to get some late-season cherry tomatoes, shallots, dried tomatoes, and crabapple jelly. “What will I do without the farmer’s market?” I asked them plaintively, but they could only say, “Wait until next spring.”
I walked out to Pope’s Island today. About half of the recreational boats are gone, leaving empty slip after empty slip. Maybe a few of the bigger boats, like “Two-Can,” a converted Alaska fishing trawler, have gone south to warmer ports. Doubtless some of the smaller boats got put onto trailers and towed to their owners’ driveways. As the recreational boats disappear, the fishing boats become more of a presence.
The juncoes are back, and I saw a flock of them on Pope’s Island. You don’t see many different kidns of birds around New Bedford harbor — usually just three kinds of gulls, cormorants, pigeons, starlings, and hosue sparrows; maybe a crow passing through — so it’s a big event when the juncoes come back for winter.
The trees along our end of William Street are sheltered by the buildings on either side, and they have kept their leaves green — until the past day or two, when the uppermost leaves began to turn red and orange. Soon they will lose those leaves, and our street will take on a bare, stripped-down look that it will keep all winter.
It was sunny this morning, but the clouds moved in after lunch. People walking around the downtown were shrouded in jackets and coats this afternoon. The cold weather is on its way.