A cloud of robins, blowing in the wind, eddies, waves, washing over us, alighting on trees, descending to the ground to pull out worms, rising suddenly in a collective wave when the photographer adjusts his poncho -- robins and more robins. As I left my fellow birders, they were discussing whether to report having seen 2000 -- or was it 3000? I prefer to say "2002:" the 2000 or so we saw in those waves, and two others sitting quietly in a tree at the far extent of our birdwatching.
This was the Christmas Bird Count, December 21, 2015, out of Escobar Gate, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. We walked in mist, becoming heavier, turning into a soft gentle steady rain -- then drizzle, windy gusts, abatement. Bright evidence of the sun, fighting its way through the clouds. We traveled muddy trails, thick with deer tracks -- and caught sight of one doe, trotting across the ridge in the distance. We separately came across three California newts, stiffly, patiently, propelling themselves across the wet ground -- and talked of how far they would have to go, to find the pond, and newt sex.