It was something special to stand near this Chinese mountain ash on Wednesday morning. While most of the garden was still and (dare I say it) frozen, this tree was alive with activity. Thirty American robins (Turdus migratorius) or so and three varied thrushes (Ixoreus naevius) assembled on it, eating the fruit. Although a few birds would sit on the branches of the tree and down a half-dozen or more fruit before flying off briefly, the more timid of the birds would swoop in, pluck a fruit, and return to perch on neighbouring more-sheltered conifers. The effect was a small scene full of motion, which I was not expert enough to express in photographs. Sound was also present – a stream flows nearby, and its gurgle was interrupted with the hushed punctuation of flapping wings and, not very often, the occasional vocals of the robins and varied thrushes.
The snow beneath the tree was also marked by the activity, with fallen fruit and chunks of icy snow creating a pock-marked scene unlike anywhere else I observed in the garden that day. There was also an odd smell (again, the only one I noted while taking photographs); it took me back about 17 or 18 years, to when I used to shovel grain on the farm. The grain bins would sometimes leak, and there would be a small clump in the pile of grain where the water caused a mix of germinated seeds and mould to mass together. These had to be shovelled out and tossed aside, but the smell from disturbing them was the same smell I noticed under the Sorbus hupehensis. Strange.
Photography / art resource link: I linked to the photography of Edward Burtynsky earlier this year in this entry – if you felt a connection to his photographs, you might consider seeing the documentary Manufactured Landscapes. The film follows Burtynsky as he travels in China, and has just been nominated in the documentary category in the Sundance Film Festival.