Solitary Goose

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Summer is pretty much gone here.  You can see that the trees and grass in the fields are tired.  Gone is that crisp, vibrant green of spring.

I pass this field in Charlemont often.  It’s along Route 2 coming into town from Rowe.  This morning the air was thick and it was raining . . . and the goose was in the field.  I did two separate u-turns to get to the right spot and stood in the rain in front of my car hoping nothing huge would come rumbling down the road to splash water in my direction.  You do what you have to do to get the shot.

Last spring, as all of the Canadian geese were strolling out the new offspring I saw this goose in this field surrounded by a large flock of Canadian geese.  It was odd, and still is. It has been in this field quite often throughout the summer.  It has conjured up all kinds of scenarios about why it’s there but now there are just questions like where did it come from?  Does it belong to someone?  Why hasn’t some fox eaten it yet?  Is it lonely?

Now I’m starting to worry about where it will be this winter, it doesn’t seem to have any friends to tell it to fly south.  Maybe someone needs to round it up although I will miss seeing it brighten up a field on an otherwise gloomy day.

Signs of Spring

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Nothing says spring to me like the sound of a redwing blackbird.  The past few days they have been in my yard by the hundreds

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They’ve been cleaning up around the feeders.

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Although there’s safety in numbers they are a cautious lot and spend much of their time landing and taking off.

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The sight and sounds are amazing.  Add it to a 60 degree day and I can almost breathe a sigh of relief but there’s still way too much snow.  Mud season has only reached my driveway.

 

Another One Bites the Dust

Middletown Hill Rd

The road in front of the house in Rowe was lined with trees for hundreds of years – hundreds.  These stately sugar maples provided shade from the western sun in the summer keeping the house quite cool.  They provided places for hammocks and swings and places for children to climb.  Big birds also nested and fed themselves from those trees – pileated woodpeckers and barred owls plus all of the usual smaller birds and squirrels. When you looked out of the upstairs bedrooms you felt as though you were in a treehouse.  It was a great view.

It’s been 10 or 15 years since the last one came down in front of the house.  The rooms upstairs are hot in the summer.  There are a lot of trees across the road but they are all beginning to go as well.  Early this morning another was cut down.  It needed to come down, there were very few branches that had leaves any more.  One of its neighbors had fallen not more than 6 months ago.

The video doesn’t do the act of cutting down a tree this size justice.  The snap and shudder, the crashing to the ground, the silence.  The house shook like witnessing a small explosion.

There are trees all around that I want to cut down, to improve the view or let more sun into my garden.  Those decisions don’t come lightly though.  I always consider what will be lost with the removal of any tree, also what will be gained.  When it’s weighed out the decision is made.  Some take very little consideration but others, the maples, are more difficult to cut down.  They are beautiful in every season, they are strong, stately.  They belong.

There is one such maple along the side of the garden.  It’s grown quite large over the past 10 years my garden has been in that spot and now shades a good part of it for most of the morning.  The vegetables aren’t fond of that much shade.  We have cut everything around it and in doing so it has thrived.  That wasn’t the intention, it was on the list to go.

After watching the old maple go down today I’ve decided I will move a good deal of my garden this year.  I want it to stand there shading the yard for a good long time to come.  A place for the orioles and bluebird to perch on the way to the feeder and bird bath.  Barred owls perch there at night and talk to their mates and chicks.  Those are things I’m not willing to give up and it really is an easy decision.

Birds and Snow

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You can always tell when the weather will be bad by the number of birds on the feeders.  The chickadees demanded I put them up about a week ago while I was doing a walk about.  I relented figuring it was cold enough so the bears might have entered into hibernation.

Yesterday the activity stepped up and we all knew it was because a storm was coming.  They are much better forecasters than any human being (that and the joints were screaming).  This morning the snow started in earnest at about 9:00 and it went from nothing to blizzard almost instantly.

The birds continue to come, all varieties now, loading up.  Their feast for the holiday.

We have people travelling from all over.  Some are beginning to arrive, some I’m hoping will wait until tomorrow with the snow coming down the way it is now.  They predict up to 12 inches and at the rate it’s falling now I wouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s hoping everyone stays safe this coming long weekend and enjoys time spent with friends and family.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Spring Has Begun

unnamedFor those of us now anxiously waiting for spring yesterday was not what we needed to see.  It snowed, it snowed like crazy.  Those torrential downpours you see in the summer?  Yeah, that’s what happened here only snow.  Six inches in less than three hours.  We just cleared away four or five in our yard on Sunday.  I’m just tired.  And cold.

This morning the sun was shining brightly, it was 18 degrees.  I opened the door to take Chester out for his walk and the first thing I noticed was birdsong.  Not just any birdsong but spring birdsong.  Robins, woodpeckers, chickadees all singing their spring twitterpated songs.  A robin was sitting on a branch of the cherry, a flicker was chipping away at an old maple in the backyard, cardinals were fighting over territory (there’s nothing more beautiful than cardinals in the snow).  Chickadees were singing their spring phoebe song.  Sigh, they know.  Even though there’s over two feet of snow in my yard today and most of the tree limbs are covered just hearing them makes me smile and think warm thoughts.

Time to stop listening to all of the bad weather hype and listen to the birds in your backyard, they’re telling you that spring is just about here.

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Little Thief

131228 Finches (1)The finches love this seed sock filled with a combination of nyjer seed and sunflower chips.  They flock to it in droves.

It was hung on an S hook on a line going across the patio in full view of the kitchen window.  I would drink my coffee with camera waiting.  Well, last week we had snow, then rain and ice.  What was on the roof came down and the feeders on the line were bounced off when the snow came to the ground.  Yeah, yeah, not the best plan for hanging feeders but hey, live and learn.  I arrived to all the still hanging feeders empty and went out to gather them in to clean and refill.  The sock was nowhere to be found – gone.  The S hook was laying on the ground.  There were telltale tracks though and I thought it was the little red squirrel that I had seen the previous week.

I filled the feeders and brought out the fruit and nut mix for the top of the pine stump.  The jays really love it there and it keeps them from bugging the other birds on the feeders.  Once they were all filled and hung back up the birds returned.  All the time I’m out by the feeders you can hear them singing, just waiting for me to get far enough away to feel safe.  The chickadees don’t wait long.

Back indoors I made the usual cup of coffee and sat by the window.  Guess what I saw?

140112 Squirrel (2)Yup, and so innocent looking too.  I don’t usually see gray squirrels here.  I know they are around but they aren’t the huge, pesky hoard I have in Enfield.

So now I know who the culprit is and I’ve ordered another sock that I will attach to the line in a different way.  I will also put it up as high as I can.

 

 

A Finch Obsession

131228 Finches (1)Okay, this has become a bit of an obsession.  Honestly, who can blame me?  Look at how beautiful the light is shining through their wings.

I have been adding to the feeder array to attract more birds – I was thinking different types of birds but the early morning visitors are the finches.  The woodpecker was on the feeder very early this morning and the jays come and go.  When the finches come it’s a crowd.  They all tussle for a spot on any one of the four feeders that are out there now.

131228 Finches (5)Photographing them like this allows me to watch their interactions frozen in time.  It’s as close as I can get to examining them without looking at a dead bird.  It also is great seeing them stopped in flight.

Of course we now have a new visitor.  He’s just scavenging around the base of the feeders so far.  I’ll throw him some seed on the stump today and hope that’s where he continues to eat.

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Finches on the Feeder

131226  Goldfinches (1)We are having a beautiful, light snowfall taking away the ugliness of mud that we had for Christmas eve and day.  The trees are dusted and the air is still.  The birds are taking advantage of the feeders today in large flocks.  I watched them make their way to the ash tree that is next to the feeders 10 and 20 at a time then fight for position on the perches.

Initially I just had my camera on automatic but the more I watched them flit from tree to ground to feeder I decided to up my shutter speed to photograph them in flight.  To stop the action of their wings.

131226  Goldfinches (2)Amazing.  I could do this all day.  Sit by the fire, drink a nice hot beverage and watch the birds and the snow.

The holidays are over – today is for me.  As much as I love having family surround me for the weeks around the holidays I really enjoy the day after when it’s quiet.  It’s a time I savor and today has been perfect.