Saturday, April 10, 2010

From Above the Treetops

I know I promised my new view on the world would not dominate my posts, but sometimes....

First, there is the weather. While I still await a summer of San Francisco fog, which will dramatically alter my eighth floor view; I am already entranced by the drama of storms sweeping or creeping across the Bay. Sometimes a sea level disturbance will force its way through the narrows of the Golden Gate and burst into the open Bay; other times the grey will slowly make views and cities and bridges disappear as a western storm front advances. Today the weather is fickle. Right now the port of Oakland to the south is bathed in sunlight, while the Bay out to the Golden Gate is shrouded in a slush of rain and mist. San Francisco is a dark pop-up silhouette ducking in and out of the overcast.

Or would that be undercast? What I have noticed in my first few weeks up in my aerie is that a lot happens below me. Not only does much of the weather hug the ground but rain storms that fall past you have more character than those that simply fall on you. In addition, there are the birds.

The "average" treetop between my perch and the Bay is about thirty feet high. Here and there a grandmother tree reaches up to double that height and there are a few massive pines off to the north that nearly reach my window height. But I am generally well above the treetops, which means most of the avian activity is below me. Quite a different view looking down rather than looking up.

I am not a 'birder' though I appreciate their unique view on nature. In 1980, I traveled to Antarctica and hung out for most of three weeks with the avid birders. They were the ones who were willing to hike further and stay out in the cold longer, so I absorbed some of their birding culture by osmosis. One thing I have noticed from my new view, the bird identifications books are not as helpful since most of their photos and drawings are from a ground perspective and birds do look very different from above and below. Image trying to identify your friends seeing them only from behind.

There is an interesting flock of mostly white birds that hang out about three blocks west of here. They seem to have a big spreading northern pine as their primary roost. I am going to trek down there the next time they flock. They might just be a kit, a flock or a flight of pigeons. They don't appear to be large enough to be sea gulls, there are a couple of possibilities in the tern family. More information to follow. Signing off from the Berkeley promontory.
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