Category Archives: Wildlife

Music to Work By

Last year, a huge, beautiful home in our neighborhood went up for bid at a foreclosure sale. Though we knew we could never afford it, my husband and I decided to go to the auction. It would be fun. (As long as one of us didn’t scratch our nose and accidentally buy an abandoned, gas station.) The morning of the sale a horrible snow storm hit, and we were surprised to find that no one but the bank was at the courthouse to bid on the house, and they didn’t really want it. We bought an incredible house for an embarrassingly low price. Our plan is to put it back on the market, and our dream is that some wealthy  person will look at the eye-popping interior, the huge lot, and the secluded, wooded surroundings and decide they just have to have it.

With the arrival of Spring. (AT LAST!) our work has shifted to the outside of the house, and it’s my job to finish cleaning up the ninety feet of brick flower boxes that surround the veranda at the front of the house, and to replant the boxes with flowers and shrubs. It was an interesting job for the first fifteen feet. After that, I got a little sick of looking at dirt and wood chips. But just as I was getting bored, the air was filled with the most beautiful, bird song. A song that I had never heard before. I searched unsuccessfully for the musician for a while, then went back to my work. That song continued for the entire evening, and as I gathered my tools to put them away a handsome, brown bird with a white chest landed in the hickory tree across the road and sang a few more choruses. I knew that brown thrashers existed, but this is the first one I have ever seen, and what an incredible song!

You can hear some of the songs of the brown thrasher here https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Brown_Thrasher

 

 

 

Our shag bark hickory tree is at least eighty feet tall, and this thrasher is sitting at the top! I love my new camera! (Taken with the Nikon Coolpix B500)

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Totally Amazing Things Animals Do

Sing!

 

Hang upside down when eating

 

Touch their Adam’s Apple with their mouth???

Prepare dinner while standing on a thin branch

Build a home out of trash

 

Fly!!

And look so cute that people forgive you for sticking your paw in their mashed potatoes!

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Filed under Pets, Photography, Wildlife

Sneaking Up on a Porcupine (Not the Smartest Thing I’ve Ever Done!)

Porcupine showing an amateur photographer the business end.

 

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There’s a New Girl in the Neighborhood

Because we live on the very edge of the forest, our family has had the privilege of becoming acquainted with a wide variety of wildlife. We’ve seen bears (very, very close up),white tailed deer, raccoons, fishers, bobcats, and plenty of squirrels and song birds. Coyote and fox tracks often appear in the mud along the lane. Hawks and vultures soar over head. Owls serenade us on summer nights. This spring, however, something new has moved into the neighborhood.

At first we thought the large, dark shape, that appeared in a treetop seventy feet above the forest floor, was a nest of some sort, but after taking photos from every angle and enlarging them on the computer, we realized that our nest was changing positions and had claws.

In the first series of photos we shot it looked like a bear cub, and at that distance, my Nikon was straining to pick up details. (Especially when the photographer holding the camera couldn’t keep her hands still. I have got start using the tripod.) After a couple of sessions, we realized that the animal’s nose was all wrong, and our baby bear had quills!

I would like to introduce you to one very, very large porcupine. She has been in the same tree for a couple of weeks now, and has been working diligently at removing all of the bark from a very large branch. The few photos we have gotten of our porcupine’s belly show that she is either extremely well fed, or that we can expect to see tiny porcupines in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Robins are Back

The robins have come back to the hollow and we are hoping that spring will be shortly behind them. I’ve been monitoring the weather forecast, and it seems they are always promising fifty degree weather in the distant future, but that future never seems to grow nearer. After the family left yesterday, I used the final hour of good daylight to practice with the new camera, and I cannot believe the distance it will allow you to be from a subject and still take a clear photo. The little guy at the bottom was sitting at the top of the tallest tree in the yard.  These two robins were not at all disturbed by this amateur photographer, because I was quite a ways from them. Let’s hope these little fellows brought some warmer weather with them.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Photography, Sue's Corner, Wildlife

Still Testing the New Camera

Actually, I’m not really testing the Nikon. I’m playing. Testing sounds more mature. My kitties have been photographed so often that they believe the camera is part of my face. As it turns out the Nikon B500 is a pretty impressive camera. It takes great photos and is far easier on batteries than my Kodak. Unfortunately, the autofocus performs almost as badly as the auto focus on the Kodak CD1013 so I’m struggling with focusing at long distances. There has to be some trick to getting the Nikon to focus on the distant bird, and not on the tree behind it. I’ll have to spend a little less time taking photos and a little more time searching the Internet for answers.

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Not Just a Tree Rat

When I was about ten my mother and I would sometimes take an afternoon and walk across town to visit my elderly, Aunt Edna and Uncle Ed. While mother sat in the kitchen and chatted with my talkative aunt, I would settle in on the metal, porch glider beside my uncle, with  his huge, black dog resting at our feet. There we would slowly rock back and forth and talk about nothing in particular as we watched the wildlife in the yard. (Birds, squirrels, and the occasional cat)

My Great, Uncle Ed was a man of many unusual talents. Unguarded valuables seemed to stick to his fingers and vanish without a trace. He could avoid work while appearing to be busy. He could lie far better than he could tell the truth. I wouldn’t have trusted him with my meager allowance, and I would never have repeated one of his preposterous stories as gospel, but unlike a lot of people, I liked the cantankerous, old villain.

It was Uncle Ed that gave me my first close up look at squirrels. Ten of them to be exact. Skinned, gutted, and pasty white they floated in a kettle of salt water upon Aunt Edna’s  old, gas stove. When he proudly lifted the kettle’s lid to show me the results of his morning, hunting trip, I gasped in horror.

“Uncle Ed, you’re going to eat rats!” I exclaimed. Needless to say, my reaction took away a little of the old man’s joy. No, I’m not emotionally scarred, and I am not anti-hunting, but every time I hear a person say that a squirrel is nothing but a tree rat, I see those naked carcasses floating in that pot. Sure, if you take away the soft fur, the fluffy, twitching tail that curls in question marks as a squirrel watches you through the window, if you take away that feisty personality and funny, expressive face, you may have something that looks like a mere rodent, but you don’t have a squirrel. Not the whole squirrel at least.

The squirrel’s intelligence always leaves me in awe. They can get past some of the most advanced, squirrel guards, raid candy machines, and train humans to do their bidding. They can lope across high wires and leap incredible distances onto branches that wouldn’t hold a song bird. They can fall from the treetops, leap to their feet and bound back to the tree to try again. They are gentle mothers, fearless combatants, and brimming with attitude. They can bury a nut and find it three months later under six inches of snow, when I can’t even remember where I put my car keys five minutes ago. A squirrel is not “just” a tree rat. A squirrel is one of God’s more miraculous creations, placed on this earth not only to fill a nitche in nature, but to entertain us and teach us to take a chance, have fun when we can, and always prepare for tomorrow.

Sue

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