Sunday, April 24, 2011

Birds and Bees

Wood Duck
The backyard feeders are filled weekly and attract finches, black capped chickadees, hairy and downy woodpeckers, a pair of cardinals, red and white breasted nuthatch, red winged black birds, mourning doves, dark-eyed juncos and various sparrows. Today, I long to catch a glimpse of something out of the ordinary. Maybe a wood duck perched in a tree! I've seen one once in my life in the Laurentians. Stunningly beautiful is an understatement.

Wearing rubber boots and binoculars, it's over the cedar fence we go and out to the farmer's pine grove in search of birds! See you in a bit Jim! Whiskey is elated to be surrounded by cow dung and new smells. I hear a northern flicker.  Elusive by nature, it's a treat to observe one. I have no luck today. Despite the fact that it's blowing a gale, I walk on with blissful optimism.

The pine grove is where the cattle seek shelter from weather. It never seizes to amaze me how much damage the big beasts can do to their surroundings. The forest floor is rutted, muddy and a minefield of patties. The trees are scratching posts and such force is used that branches are broken and strewn all over. It "ain't" pretty. We move on to the open fields. A chickadee is busy cleaning his beak on a pine limb. I truly admire these little guys for their tenacity in all weather. To my list I can add the boreal chickadee spotted on a Manitoba owl prowl and the mountain chickadee sited in the high summits of the Sierra-Nevada in Lake Tahoe.

Our little hike takes us to the creek that meanders from one end of the field to the other. It runs to the cattle watering hole at farmer Don's, then crosses the concession to feed the duck pond and goes on to pour itself into the Holland River. Whiskey climbs down the embankment and wades in lapping at the water. The enjoyment is obvious. The coolness transforms him and he is a puppy again. In one leap, he's sitting beside me with a smile on his face and then runs off forcing me to get back on my feet to follow.

We head towards the old barn. I find the carcass of an old crow. How did he meet his demise? Coyote, fox, owl or bird of prey? In the distance I spot a series of boxes. Large stones hold down their lids. Could it be? Binoculars in hand I take a closer look. Ah! Look at them swarm! Time to change direction Whiskey! Enough with the birds and the bees! Let's go home!

It's nice to see that farmer Don has taken on a new interest.

1 comment:

  1. It is a great time of year for birding - less foliage and their plumage is so bright! No warblers or vireos up in your neck of the woods?