An hour before sunrise, a great-horned owl calls in the distance—just audible over the sounds of traffic. My breath rises like a rope trick.
Dawn comes with a light breeze rummaging through the oaks, a freight train laboring up the valley, the tutting of robins.
Dawn silence. A distant Carolina wren. I’m standing outside in my PJs enjoying the relative warmth (38F) when I spot the first cloud in days.
25F degrees at dawn. A bat flies low over the meadow as the white-throated sparrows tune up. Frost-encrusted blades of grass seem to glow.
First frost, and the thinnest small boat of a moon riding low on the horizon with the bright darkness of its cargo.
They’re shapeshifting daily now, the faces in the thinning treetops silhouetted against the dawn sky. I push my glasses down to unblur the moon.
Mercury rises just as the stars begin to fade. A jet flies under it. A lone goose flies over it. I look away and lose it in the dawn sky.
A dark and rainy dawn. One especially well-harmonized train horn and the sparrows and wrens wake up.
The last star blinks out just as rain begins to tap on the roof. A spring pepper calls. Dawn begins to seem like a possibility.
Overcast at dawn. The silence is broken by the periodic splats of black walnuts. A barred owl’s single, round note.
Mares’ tails reddening in the east. The reedy songs of white-throated sparrows. A raven’s nasal croak.
Cold and clear. Stars fade as the ground fog grows, partly lit by the crescent moon, partly by the dawn.
Spring peeper just after moonset. Then whippoorwill. Wood thrush. Carolina wren. Phoebe. A pileated woodpecker cackles and it’s day.
5:30. A pair of barred owls exchange queries as the sky begins to brighten. A screech owl’s quaver. Sudden loud wingbeats in the meadow.