Friday, May 27, 2016

NWA 5/27/16

A Northwoods Almanac for May 27 – June 9, 2016  

            Rod Sharka sent me this email from his home near Land O’Lakes: “Hey, aren't whip-poor-wills relatively rare up in this area? I've never heard one up here in all the years I have been coming to this area, nor in the 14 years I've lived here full time. But I heard...and this evening. It was sitting on the peak of my house and singing VERY LOUDLY for about 15 minutes at about 9:15 p.m. It must have been singing the whip-poor-will version of "Happy Birthday" to my wife, Myrtle. Then it just flew off and disappeared. Very cool experience, but I'm glad it did take off as that little bugger was LOUD.”
            Whip-poor-wills are indeed both uncommon in this area and very loud. The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Wisconsin shows that the bird was detected in nearly one-third of the Atlas quads, which indicates that it remains widespread, but that the population appears to be steadily declining.
The real problem is trying to study this amazingly cryptic bird. Its well-camouflaged eggs and young, and its habit of foraging and breeding between dusk and dawn, make it one of the least-studied birds in North America. For example, while whip-poor-wills were heard in all those quads statewide, only nine nests with eggs were actually found, and only one nest with young was located. It’s hard to study a bird you simply can’t find.
A whip-poor-will lays its clutch of two eggs directly on the forest floor, and remains motionless on the nest or on a roost site during daylight hours. They usually forage for insects only at dawn or dusk, but on moonlit nights, they may forage all night long. Interestingly, the hatching of their chicks seems to be tied to periods of the full moon, so the parents can bring food throughout the night to their brood.
Whip-poor-wills become active about 30 minutes after sunset and continue feeding as long as there’s sufficient light. If it’s cold, rainy weather, however, they sit tight and don’t forage. Near first light, they begin feeding again and finish about 40 minutes before sunrise.
As for their loud singing, in one study, a whip-poor-will called approximately 59 times every minute – in other words, every second. A calling period lasts sometimes for 15 minutes or more and some are reported to have called continuously over 1,000 times.
At first, hearing a whip-poor-will is exciting since they’re so uncommon. But as the song goes on and on and on, the thrill can succumb to annoyance and eventually to total exasperation, particularly if you’re trying to sleep. Whip-poor-wills only eat insects, including mosquitoes, so that helps moderate one’s aggravation.
Population declines of whip-poor-wills appears due to several factors: habitat loss to agriculture, closing of forest openings due to growth and succession of trees, urbanization, and destruction of underbrush that provides nesting cover.          
Whip-poor-wills winter along the Gulf Coast and throughout Central America, so perhaps there are issues as well in their wintering habitats.

Wisconsin Birdathon
            Our Northern Highland birdathon team took to the woods and wetlands at 4 a.m. on Sunday, 5/22, starting first at the Little Turtle Flowage, a birding hotspot a few miles northwest of Mercer. The moon was full, fog covered much of the marsh, and the temperature was a surprisingly comfortable 47° (just a week earlier, we led bird trips in snow squalls).

full moon on Little Turtle Flowage

            Our first bird was a robin, singing in the dark at 3:45 as we pulled out of our driveway. We start early in the morning to try to hear night singers like barred and great horned owls, or those birds which seem to sing only at first light and then are quiet for most of rest of the day. Our strategy failed – no owls, and no unusual early morning singers. One of the members of our team suggested we could have started at 7 a.m. and still have gotten the same number of birds. Too true, but we would have missed the camaraderie of standing around in the cold, sleep-deprived, watching the moonlit fog, listening intently for songs, and swapping stories about birds. What could be better than that?
            Our team of slightly crazed people (Bruce Bacon, Sarah Krembs, Guy David, Mary Burns, Chris Paulik, Vanessa Hesse-Lehman, and Mark Lehman) worked beautifully together, each person merging their set of birding skills and sensory acuity with the others so that we made one expert birder – the community always being stronger than the individual.
            We spent over three hours at the Little Turtle, drove to Bruce’s home area to find some nesting cardinals and Eastern bluebirds, then checked out some older-growth forest habitat on Cedar Lake Road for birds like Blackburnian warblers, parula warblers, least flycatchers, and northern goshawks.
            Then on to Powell Marsh, which we scoured until 12:30, the temperature now risen to nearly 80°. Powell yielded our only migrating shorebirds for the day – least sandpiper, semi-palmated sandpiper, semi-palmated plover, and lesser yellowlegs. We also got a very late rough-legged hawk, and numerous bobolinks, a personal favorite of Mary’s and mine because their song sounds somewhat like R2D2 from Star Wars fame.
            And then we ate breakfast, which had now become lunch, and not incidentally, we got Baltimore orioles and purple finches at our home in Manitowish.
            We worked our way down to a site near Lake Tomahawk where Vanessa has done research on golden-winged warblers, and there we found a suite of grassland birds that are hard to find in the Northwoods except in clear-cut sites – Eastern towhee, mourning warbler, and the golden-winged warblers.
            We continued birding along the Wisconsin River until 6:30, now having spent 14 ½ hours together. Vanessa and Mark headed home to Rhinelander where they picked up an additional five species we hadn’t found yet, Guy found two more species in Minocqua, and Mary and I found nighthawks and whip-poor-wills in abundance at 9:30 that night near Boulder Junction.
            We were toast, but when all was said and done, we’d identified 117 species of birds, a fine number given the relatively short distance we had traveled.
            Other birdathons are still taking place around the state, all joining forces with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, and Madison Audubon Society to raise $70,000 for bird conservation. 
Our goal was to see 110 bird species, which we beat, and raise $3,000, which we’re still trying to get to. Funds we raise will support nine statewide programs that meet the year-round needs of Wisconsin’s birds. If one on your passions is birds, please help us help Wisconsin birds by pledging or donating to the Northern Highlands Team at Click on “Donate,” go to the name of any member of our team or to “Northern Highlands team,” and give what you can. The birds will appreciate it.
The North Lakeland Discovery Center also fielded a birdathon team yesterday, 5/26, so please consider donating to their team as well. I’ll summarize their results in my next column.

Sightings – FOYs (First-Of-Year)
5/10: Our FOY white-crowned sparrows appeared in our yard in Manitowish.
5/11: Our FOY Baltimore orioles arrived.

Baltimore oriole photo by Bev Engstrom

5/12: A FOY brown thrasher appeared under one of our feeders.
5/13: A reader sent me the story of his son in Minocqua who “saw an eagle fly down on a flock of geese and pluck a young gosling. The eagle returned twice more to snatch a gosling, all the while the adults were honking up a storm.”
5/14: Patricia Bruhn in Woodruff sent photos of a black bear on her deck and which also was eating her fuchsia flowers out of a pot – I didn’t know they had such sophisticated tastes!

black bear eating fuchsias photo by Patricia Bruhn

5/15: Dan Carney in Hazelhurst reported a FOY indigo bunting. They’ve been slow to return, and I’ve not heard of many visiting people’s feeders.
5/17: We finally had our FOY hummingbird visit our feeders, a full week later than our average date. With the warm weather this last week, they’ve settled in to their high speed attack wars at the feeders.
5/18: Dan Carney saw his FOY golden-winged warbler at his little waterfall in his yard. These waterfall/pool set-ups can be purchased at various stores and sure attract birds.
5/18: A Harris’s sparrow put in an appearance at our feeders, but soon departed and never returned.
5/20: Sharon Lintereur sent a wonderful picture from her property in Lake Tomahawk of two barred owls peering out of their nest box.

barred owls photo by Sharon Lingerer

5/21: Mary Madsen in Presque Isle had an Eastern meadowlark visit her property. If we lived in farm country, this wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but here in the Northwoods, a meadowlark is quite unusual.
5/23: Ron Eckstein, retired DNR wildlife manager for our area, noted that the loon pair on Little Crooked Lake had abandoned their nest due to overwhelming numbers of black flies. Ron later paddled over to look at the nest, and as he approached it, a cloud of black flies rose from the nest itself. I’m unaware if the black flies are an area-wide issue for loons this year as they were in 2014 when 70% of first nest attempts were abandoned, but it appears likely. Simulium annulus is the species of black fly that only attacks common loons. The good news is that many loons can and will successfully re-nest, though overall reproductive success is diminished.

Celestial Events
            Look for these planets continuing their visibility from May into June after dark: Mars is visible in the south, while Jupiter is bright in the southwest and Saturn can be seen in the southeast. Before dawn, look for Mercury very low in the northeast – it will be lost by mid-month.
            By June 1, we’ll be up to 15 hours and 30 minutes of daylight – nearly 65% of the day will be lit by the sun. However, the days are now growing longer only by one minute, and the earliest sunrises of the year begin on 6/10.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

NWA 5/13/16

A Northwoods Almanac for May 13 - 26, 2016  by John Bates

Green-up and Migration Madness
            If I had to declare a particular two-week period as my favorite of the year, this would have to be it. Everything’s coming into full life – spring flowers bursting, leaves greening up, birds returning en masse. It’s simply an explosion of color, of smells, of movement, of sounds. Winter lasts a long time, but mid-May transforms it all, offering a rebirth, a resurrection unlike any other time of the year.
Over a decade ago I wrote an essay which was included in Jeff Richter’s gorgeous photography book, Seasons of the North. Here’s what I said then:
“Spring throws the science books out with the snow, makes us all poets for a few weeks, jumbles us up with emotions we can’t articulate, can’t explain, can’t control.  It’s birth, and who will ever be able to explain that? How will we quantify the first chorus of spring peepers on the first warm evening of spring? Or measure the exuberance of wood frogs who have thawed from tiny ice cubes in the leaf litter into the most prodigiously sex-driven, inch-long, cold-blooded creatures imaginable? 
“The flights of geese overhead, of tundra swans, of sandhill cranes, of whistling ducks winging at breakneck speeds, all carry the music of warm sun and the smell of rippling water. Red-winged blackbirds rim the marshes, their musical “oak-ka–lee” songs ringing with the consistency of a church bell over a town, calling you to come to the service, the church is open, and it is time to sit together, tell the long stories of winter struggle, and revel in the warmth that blows from heavens and not from a basement furnace.        
“Winter, the ultimate editor, has passed. Spring, the temptress, has finally arrived. We’re eating maple syrup so amber that the sun feels jealous. The snipe winnow from the heavens in the early morning, and the woodcock peent from the ground and jump into the air to dance at dusk. Fish spawn and eagles gluttonize from high pines.
“It’s a sumptuous feast for those who will sit at the table and dine. The marsh choir sings every morning, herons glide into their rookeries to feed ungainly chicks their regurgitated feast, osprey plummet into lakes and emerge with fish in talons to be torn apart in tree-top nests, male songbirds sing of their vitality, some proclaiming from open perches, some warbling from woodland floors, some soloing while skulking in dense shrubbery, too shy to be seen on their own stage.
“No southern bible-thumping preacher could possibly exult more about the spirit than spring does. When we think of creation, we feel the spring. Spring voices why we were put upon the Earth - to rapturously revel, and to quietly believe.”

Sightings – FOY’s (First-of-Year)
4/30: Mary saw our FOY hepatica in flower in Manitowish Waters.

photo by John Bates

5/2: Sharon Lintereur in Lake Tomahawk sent me a photo of a barred owl peering out from the nest box she is using on their property. She’s eagerly awaiting owlets!

barred owl in nest box, photo by Sharon Lingerer

5/6: Jame Lueneburg near Tomahawk observed her FOY white-throated sparrow. She noted, “I always associate the call of the white throated sparrow with the beginning of fishing season. This year I was having my doubts and just as it was starting to get light, I heard one single call through my open bedroom window! That night I heard 4 reps of the call. Nice to know that everything is going according to schedule.”
5/6: Uwe Wiechering on Sparkling Lake reported the FOY ruby-throated hummingbird that I’ve heard of in our area.
5/6: We heard our first toads trilling in the wetlands below our house in Manitowish.
5/7: Pat Schwai on Cochran Lake reported her FOY black-throated green warbler.
5/7: We heard our FOY black-and-white warbler while walking in Flambeau.
5/8: Dan Carney in Hazelhurst reported his FOY Nashville warblers and rose-breasted grosbeaks.
5/8: John and Karin Randolph had their FOY Baltimore orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks at their feeders in Minocqua.
5/8: Mary and I saw our FOY rose-breasted grosbeak in Manitowish.
5/8: Peggy Kleinhans in Milton sent me a photo of a turkey nest with 16 eggs in it that she discovered in their woods. That’s a lot of chicks to raise!

photo by Peggy Kleinhans

5/8: Mary, her sister Nancy, and good friend Denise Fauntleroy observed a pair of broad-winged hawks flying low in the woods along the Agonikak National Recreation Trail north of Land O’Lakes. One of the hawks was carrying something and dropped it near them. Upon investigating, they found it was a large baby bird – species unknown. Broadwings are deep woods hawks, and amphibians, insects, mammals, and juvenile birds comprise their most common prey, with birds taken during breeding season being predominantly nestlings or fledglings. Raiding a nest is certainly an easier endeavor than catching a bird on the wing.
5/9: The Randolph’s also reported that a northern mockingbird twice alighted on their hanging suet feeder. While northern mockingbirds have the word “northern” in their name, there’s nothing northern about them. Wisconsin is the northernmost edge of their range, and even then, they’re considered rare to uncommon. In the last atlas of breeding birds of Wisconsin, only seven confirmed nests were recorded in the state. So, when one appears up here, it’s a big deal.

photo by John Randolph

            If you’re not familiar with the mockingbird’s song, it’s considered one of the most accomplished vocal mimics in the bird world. John Eastman, author of Birds of Forest, Yard, and Thicket writes that its song “consists large of multiple plagerisms, bits and pieces lifted from the repertoires of almost any other bird it has heard, plus frog croaks, dog barks, cat meows, gate squeaks, and tire squeals.”
            Not only are mockingbirds singularly inventive, they’re long-winded – a single song can last for ten minutes. And that medley will be very different from the last one as well as the next one. The vocal repertoires of individual males have been estimated to be as high as 203 song types.
            Let’s hope this mockingbird chooses to hang around and a mate appears – John and Karin would be in for a musical feast!
5/9: Bob Kovar in Manitowish Waters reported his FOY Baltimore orioles.
5/9: Cherie Smith in Lake Tomahawk sent photos of her FOY rufous-sided towee. She also noted that a robin that she has fed mealworms to for several years has returned. She knows it’s the same bird because he flies right at the door to alert her is she hasn’t provided the mealworms in a timely fashion.

Loon News
            Walter Piper studies loons in our area and produces an exceptionally interesting blog ( In his latest posting, he describes “the missing, the new, and the unexpected.” What I found particularly remarkable was his story of two old loons. One is a male is known to be 27 years of age or older and was evicted by another male from Muskellunge Lake in 2014. He reappeared in 2015 on Swanson Lake and is there now in 2016.
            The other is a female that produced chicks on Buck Lake from 1998 to 2009, but was evicted by another female in 2010. She eventually took over a territory on Hildebrand Lake in 2012, produced a chick in 2013, but was driven off in 2015. But this spring she reappeared on Hildebrand and reclaimed that territory.
            It’s all about resiliency. There are no old-age homes for loons. They stay in the breeding game until they can no longer defend a territory, and then . . . well, I don’t know. Perhaps they become a “floater,” tagging along with the young loons who have yet to win a territory. What is clear is the intense competition for territories that occurs every year on most of our lakes, with violent disputes and evictions of one of the breeding pair being commonplace.
Egg Dumping – Foster Ducklings
If you peek into a wood duck nesting box, you might find 10 to 11 eggs, which is the bird’s normal clutch size. But you might also stumble upon a box overflowing with as many as 30 eggs.
These huge piles of eggs result from intraspecific brood parasitism, a fancy term for egg dumping, which occurs when a bird of the same species lays eggs in a nest that does not belong to her. Waterfowl often engage in this behavior as a means of getting a few more of their own young to survive,
Remarkably, it often works – females appear to readily take care of the foster eggs and raise the ducklings as their own.
Egg dumping occurs most often when nests are close to one another, which can make nesting boxes good candidates for egg dumping. But in one study of wood ducks, egg dumping also occurred in 85 percent of nests in natural cavities, compared to about 44 percent of nest boxes.
It appears that the ducks don’t know which eggs are their own and which belong to others. Other cavity-nesting ducks like hooded mergansers are known to dump their eggs into the nests of wood ducks, and the hens will raise these young as their own, too.
There are, however, physical limits to being a foster mother duck. A single female wood duck can incubate at least 20 eggs at a time, but beyond that, the clutch may become too much for one bird to manage, and she may abandon her nest.        

Celestial Events
            Our days are still growing longer by two minutes every day. On 5/16, we’ll be receiving 15 hours of sunlight!
            On the evening of 5/15, look for Jupiter about two degrees above the waxing gibbous moon. The full moon will occur on 5/21. Called the “Flower” or the “Planting” moon by different Native American tribes, it may appear that planting time is here, but only for those plants that can tolerate frost. We always hold off planting hot weather vegetables like tomatoes and green peppers until June 12, which is usually safe for where we are in Manitowish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

NWA 4/29/16

A Northwoods Companion for April 29 – May 12, 2016 

Snipe and Woodcock Aerial Displays
            A snipe has been winnowing over our house now for the last week, often throughout the day. The sound comes typically from the male snipe who is sky dancing in hopes of proving his vigor to a starstruck female on the ground. The male climbs several hundred feet into the air, then dives at a 45° angle, spreading his outer tail feathers to capture the wind and create a haunting, tremulous sound that is best described as “winnowing.” Researchers have found that the female may also perform this courtship display, and that the male may also attack an intruder into his territory during his winnowing flight, or use his winnowing to drive off a predator. The male’s winnow flights will last all the way through the female’s incubation of the eggs and until the eggs are hatched.
            The winnow flights are most often heard at dusk, the same time as one might hear the “peent” call of the male woodcock prior to his flight display. The woodcock male’s courtship dance commences when the bird jumps off the ground and spirals up perhaps 100 feet while softly twittering, then begins a melodious chirping that lasts for ten seconds or so before he circles back down to the ground and resumes his nasal “peenting” display. Aldo Leopold wrote beautifully of this sky dance in his Sand County Almanac, concluding that these dawn and dusk sky dances are a living "refutation of the theory that the utility of a game bird is to serve as a target, or to pose gracefully on a slice of toast.”
            Both species are so cryptically colored that you are more likely to step on one than see it on the ground. And both have long bills adapted to probing in the ground for various invertebrates. They also share the same body shape: short and stubby with their eyes located on the sides of their heads, presumably to help them detect predators while they’re face-down probing for a meal.
            These flight displays are occurring right now, and will generally come to an end in mid-May. So, if you want to watch some real “dancing with the stars,” try going out at twilight near a natural clearing, meadow, or wetland – perhaps a woodcock or snipe will do a dance for you.

Badger Tracking
Sondra Katzen, the Director of Public Relations at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, thought readers of this column might be interested in a story they just did regarding a badger that was caught and brought to the Brookfield Zoo to have a transmitter surgically implanted. Sondra attached a link to a video they posted on their social media page:

4/8: We were skiing in 8 inches of new snow, but warm weather followed, and by 4/13, we heard our first wood frogs with spring peepers soon following. On 4/15, it was 70°, and the frogs in the woodland ponds were in a frenzy. Less than one week elapsed between deep snow and chorusing frogs!
4/16: Anne and John Nesgaard in Winchester saw an American white pelican on Birch Lake in Winchester. As a note, Mary and I were in Green Bay on 4/14 and 4/15, and saw hundreds of white pelicans along the Fox River. I don’t have statistics for 2016, but in 2013, researchers counted 4,123 white pelican nests in eight nesting colonies in Wisconsin, a remarkable comeback story for a species that just began nesting again in Wisconsin in 1994.
4/16: Aspens, alders, and willows all came into flower. We also heard our first chorus frogs.
4/17: Female red-winged blackbirds arrived, over three weeks later than the males, as is common. FOY (first-of-year) white-throated sparrows also appeared in Manitowish, as did our first Wilson’s snipe. We hiked in the Porcupine Mountains today, and as we got close to the lake, we saw our first spring beauties of the year.
4/18: Silver and sugar maples came into flower, as did hazelnuts.
4/19: We were treated to four Eastern meadowlarks on Powell Marsh, as well as our FOY greater yellowlegs, rough-legged hawks, and savannah sparrows. While very common in open farm country, meadowlarks are very uncommon to see in our heavily wooded counties.

greater yellowlegs photo by Nancy Burns

4/19: We conducted our first frog count of the year, traveling to the 10 specific spots on our route in Vilas County that we have visited for over 20 years. The spring peepers were tumultuous! Our one surprise was the calling of several leopard frogs in Whitney Flowage – it’s awfully early for leopard frogs to be calling.
4/20: We heard our FOY yellow-rumped warblers, but Carne Andrews and Katie Foley, who birded with us the previous day on Powell Marsh, had been seeing yellow-rumps for several days before this.

yellow-rumped warbler

4/22: We saw our first leatherwood shrubs in flower at Van Vliet State Natural Area.

leatherwood flowers

4/23: A barred owl serenaded us at one point as we hiked around Clark Lake in the Sylvania Recreation Area. Sharon Lintereur in Lake Tomahawk has a barred owl nesting in a nest box she and her husband put up 10 years ago. She noticed the owl incubating eggs in late March, so with an average 30-day incubation, the owlets should be hatching by the end of April.
4/24: We found our first trailing arbutus in flower near Frog Lake.

trailing arbutus flowers

Birdathon – Northern Highlands Team
            This May, a few bird-loving friends and I are joining forces with the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, and Madison Audubon Society to raise support for bird conservation. 
We are doing this through the fifth annual Great Wisconsin Birdathon which aims to raise at least $70,000 for our state’s breeding, migrating, and wintering birds. 
Our Birdathon team, the The Northern Highlands Team, will spend part of a 24-hour period on May 22 observing as many bird species as possible. Our goal is to see 110 bird species and raise $3,000.  Funds we raise will support nine statewide programs that meet the year-round needs of Wisconsin’s birds.  You can view project descriptions at the Birdathon website. Help us help our birds by pledging or donating to the Northern Highlands Team at!

Bark Stripping Gray Squirrels
Mark Pfleiger in Harshaw wrote to ask if I’ve “noticed the population explosion of gray squirrels and the damage that they are doing to the hard maple trees? There are areas around here where many of trees have their bark chewed off.”
This winter, a friend in Manitowish Waters had also showed me dozens of small sugar maples that were stripped of bark. Apparently no one knows why they do it, but I have two thoughts – one, the cambium layer just beneath the bark is rich in nutrients and may be simply part of their diet. Two, they may be stripping the bark for nest building materials. Whatever the explanation, this behavior certainly isn’t good for the trees, though often the smaller maples are growing so close together that their thinning may help the overall stand. 

Ice Cover – 2015-16 Shortest Length in 40 Years
From Woody Hagge: “The ice on Foster Lake [in Hazelhurst] went off on Friday, April 15, after 109 days of ice cover. While the ice-out date is only one day earlier than the 40-year average ice-out date (16 April), the total days of ice cover is the briefest in my 40 years of record keeping. The previous shortest ice cover was 110 days during the winters of 98-99 and 99-00.”  

Climate Change Stats
March 2016 was by far the planet's warmest March since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information. March 2016 came in a full 1.22°C (2.20°F) warmer than the 20th-century average for March, as well as 0.32°C (0.58°F) above the previous record for March, set in 2015. This is a huge margin for breaking a monthly global temperature record, as they are typically broken by just a few hundredths of a degree. The margin was just a shade larger than NOAA's previous record for any month of 1.21°C (2.18°F) above average, set in February 2016.
The past six months (as measured by departure from average in both the NOAA and NASA databases) all set records for their respective months as the warmest since 1880. NOAA’s global surface temperature for the year so far (January-March 2016) is 0.29°C (0.52°F) warmer than the previous record, set in 2015.

Celestial Events
            Planets in May: After dusk, look for Jupiter bright in the southwest, Mars in the south, and Saturn in the southeast.
            May 4 marks the midpoint between spring equinox and summer solstice, and provides us with 14 hours and 30 minutes of sunlight. Also look for Saturn near the waning gibbous moon.
            The peak Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurs in the predawn hours of May 5 and May 6. They average 20 meteors per hour, and given that the new moon occurs the day before, the sky will be a dark canvas. Although the Eta Aquarid meteors will streak all over the sky, they appear to radiate from a Y-shaped group of stars in the eastern sky in the constellation Aquarius.


Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke.