Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hello dear

Slow game cam week, but a busy week for me. (More about that later.)

As of last weekend, most of the new Cuddeback pictures were fuzzy rear-view shots of raccoons and rabbits. This deer photo is not the model of sharpness either, but it's the best one of the lot. She's coming up out of the creek at 9:30 in the bright daylight... if I'd been looking out of the window I'd have seen her.


The first Hooded Mergansers of the season arrived this week. We've already had several of the other winter birds for a while... Cedar Waxwings, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Kinglets (Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned), Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Song Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, etc.

Not many of them sing in the winter -- Song Sparrows are a nice exception. If we're lucky we might hear a Winter Wren now and then. It's one of my favorite birdsongs, but I don't hear it often. The Winter Wren also has one of my favorite latin names: Troglodytes troglodytes! My old birdwatching teacher called them feathered meatballs because of their small size. I'd say, feathered meatballs on speed. (Listen to their song to see what I mean.)

I found one dead in the yard last week and almost cried. He was so small. Ten paperclips would have balanced him on a scale.

For the Birds

A new edition of I and the Bird is up at Five Wells. Go see!

Monday, November 27, 2006


We have a new TV channel that's been airing some old British science fiction programs. One show we watched yesterday was set in a future that has, by now, long since passed. I love retro sci-fi... I marvel at all the gadgets they were sure we'd have invented by now. If I become indignant, it's only because in real life this millennium has proven so unjust. Where is my hover car? My personal spacecraft? My jet pack? Why are those slacker scientists not busy inventing the transporter and the thing that prepares dinner in two seconds?

But what's even more engrossing are the now-everyday things that the writers didn't foresee. Tiny computers? No. In retro sci-fi, they fill rooms with their huge blinky blippiness. And using vacuum tubes and reel-to-reel tape must be why it takes them so long to answer questions.

I suppose the wristwatch videophones weren't far off the mark, but who'd have predicted that teenagers would prefer texting? The purple hair was insightful, but of course they had to go and screw it up by giving everyone the same purple hair.

But the funniest thing to me -- the most anachronistic -- is that in these futuristic programs, they're all still smoking!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey day

Happy turkey day!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006




One of the purple thistles. I have to admit I didn't examine it closely, but I'm leaning towards Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Watermelons 2006

It wasn't that we didn't plant watermelons early. We did. It's just that they were part of the straw-bale gardening experiment that went horribly wrong. And we didn't re-plant until the first of August. A race was on between the vines and the first hard frost.

This was our first attempt at growing watermelons.

My planting method went like this: "Oh, that was a good watermelon that we got from the farmer's market. I'll just toss some of these seeds onto the unplanted garden area and see what happens."

My husband's planting method was more sophisticated: "I'll plant some of these seeds that Aunt Polly gave us a few years ago. I'm even going to weed the area first, and plant in mounds. But I'm not going to use any fertilizer, because this dirt is so good. It's all a matter of mind control, anyway."

You might be surprised to learn that we did actually manage to grow a few excellent watermelons.

They were very tasty! We had a two or three week window between the first ripe melon and the first hard frost (around the first of November).

Did you know that melons can suffer from blossom end rot? It's a common problem with tomatoes, but for melons I get the impression that you really have to be trying. Oops. I blamed it on not fertilizing this end of the garden at all. Hubby blamed it on not watering enough (and improper mind control). It was probably the result of both. (I don't subscribe to the mind control theory of gardening.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Otters, we have otters

It worked! Hubby put the game cam where something seemed to have created a path from the creek to the pond. We'd seen fresh otter scat near there.

I'd hoped that the flash would scare the otters away. Sure, they're cute, but they've eaten most of the fish from our ponds.

Considering that this picture was taken a full minute after the previous one, I don't think that strategy is going to work.


When I swap over to the new Blogger, I'll create a category for the game cam, so you'll be able to click and see all the related posts together. But since I'm getting a lot of Google hits on the topic lately, I'll mention again that this is a Cuddeback game camera that we ordered online from "Boss Buck".

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Weekend Game Cam

Lots of coming and going in the woods...

Pair of bobcats! I've noticed that at least one of the local bobcats is sort of sway-backed... I think that's her in the foreground.

Nice coyote! Almost as if he were posing.

Racoons are still the most common visitor. I didn't realize that their hands were hairless like that, but it makes sense.

I'm not sure if he's heavier than the previous one, or just fluffed up in the cold.

Click the picture for extra eeriness!

Hubby moved the camera, hoping to catch a beaver or otter on this path down to the pond. No luck, but we did get this picture of a Great Blue Heron. (Nice, but the camera is more focused on the background.)

He's moving it again today, in quest of otters.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What a wonderful bird the frog are

Hubby took a branch-trimming break to show me this cute little Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) he'd found. They have got to be the most willing-to-pose frog species in existence. Just like the one from last year, he didn't budge the whole time I had the camera practically up his nose.

I included this poem in the previous post too, but I like it so much I'm using it again. Something about the Gray Treefrog just brings it out in me.

What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he stand he sit almost;
When he hop he fly almost.
He ain't got no sense hardly;
He ain't got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got almost.



More crittery goodness at the Friday Ark.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Belated Halloween post


A scary werewolf on Halloween, a.k.a. my cutie-pie niece.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My talent in life

White clover, Trifolium repens.

Finding 4-leaf clovers... it seems to be my one natural talent. Other people's natural talents often lead to fame or fortune, if they are born with a nice singing voice, say, or the ability to draw. Mine, not so much, although it can sometimes impress people at picnics.

Certain clover patches seem to contain more than others. I haven't found too many here, so I usually don't pick them, on the off chance that it will make the patch produce more. (I have no idea how they are produced, and google searches have proven unsatisfying.)

I wish that I had picked this one, and dried it to send to my nephew. He should have arrived in Afghanistan by now, and could probably use some luck.

Monday, November 13, 2006


This hickory has always been one of my favorite trees on our place.

I loved the way it (picturesquely, romantically) leaned over the path, and defended it from my husband, who has long wanted to cut it down.

But now there's a problem. How can you defend a tree that insists on behaving in this manner?

Hubby says it must go. We need to be able to drive under there, and neither pickups nor tractors can Limbo. Plus, if this decline continues, a fence will be destroyed.

I'll still be sad to see it go.

(Note the crazy husband in the tree.)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not the preferred method

Hubby found this recently deceased rail next to our driveway in late October. It's not at all the preferred method of adding a new bird species to the yard list.

The similar coloring on some rails can make them difficult to identify (for me, anyway), but I knew from the small size that this had to be a Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola).

If you're unfamiliar with birding guides, the width of the one in the picture just fits into hubby's back pocket. (Most everyone else has moved on to the newer-bigger-better guides, but Peterson's is still my favorite.)

We couldn't figure out what had killed this rail. There wasn't a mark on him. The species breeds in the north but migrates through our area to winter at the coast. They're a shy, secretive bird, not commonly seen, though as with all birds of this type there is always the chance that you can look back and see one crossing the road in broad daylight, in the area you've just left.

They are a marsh-type species, and I imagine this one was attracted to the cattail area near the drainage ditch.

The feathers are so beautiful.

Although I'm sad every time I find a dead bird, I always take the opportunity to take a closer look than I'd ever have with a live bird.

There were a few stray white feathers that entranced me.


For more critter goodness, visit the Friday Ark!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


When I wasn't looking,

fall crept in.

Days grew short.

Leaves blazed,

and made a quilt.

While my back was turned,

the last goldenrod bloomed,

and summer flew away.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Still more game cam

Christmas Village is over for another year, so I hope I'll have more time now for blogs (both reading and writing).

And I swear I'll write about something other than the game cam eventually. But while I was away it captured some nice pictures. So, at the risk of sounding like a broken record... here's more game cam!

More turkeys. I don't know what it is about turkeys -- they just make me laugh.

A deer creeps onto the path.

I was surprised that the camera captured a rabbit hopping by.

Another clever bandit.

We had several rainy, drizzly days, during which this mysterious photo was taken. Chupacabra again?!

The animals definitely seem more active on dark, cloudy days.

The previous pictures were snapped during the week ending October 28th. The next series was for the week ending November 5th.

Spike buck.

These things happen...

I've zoomed most of the rest of the pictures since the subjects were fairly small in the total shot.

He looks a little damp!

Several coyotes were using the path:

Several bobcats too!

I'd say the second and third pictures are definitely of different bobcats. Possibly a female and a male, respectively.