Paddock Associates (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

10 June finds me stopped to admire a group of resting horses and a shaggy donkey on Snowdons Corners Road, south east of Merrickville, Ontario. The sky is lowering and the air feels pregnant with rain - but woven with a continuous fabric of bird song.

Robins, Song Sparrows, Redwings, Savanna Sparrows, Killdeer, Chipping Sparrows, all blending together like different coloured threads.  A phoebe lands briefly on the telephone wire, wagging its tail up and down, so I know its song must be part of the mix as well, even though I haven't heard it.  Meadowlarks and Boblolinks are conspicuous in their absence.  20 years ago they were in every summer hayfield and pasture around here, but small farms with grazing stock are disappearing and old fields are closing in with shrubs and trees.  Many are being choked up with invasive Buckthorn.  We have not heard or seen Upland Plover for several years, and other grassland birds that were much more abundant are also becoming scarce.  

The dark horse stretches out its forelegs, braces its hooves on the ground, and leans forward, gathering its hind legs to raise hind quarters.  Standing, it gives itself a good shake and moves off to graze on its own.  The silhouette of its long legs is so elegant!  Now they are all up, and grazing in different quarters of the field.  A Killdeer runs close alongside the dark horse, white belly glinting against the grass.  A distant Rooster crows and now it begins to rain.


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