wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Woodpecker Line-up

Woodpeckers seem to like our area. Maybe the attraction is all the rotten wood of broken limbs and stumps left behind from wind damage or logging. It all provides a smorgasbord of insects for them. Sometimes these pileated woodpeckers  really get into their work, hammering at the wood, and the chips just fly off the decaying trees, exposing insects who were enjoying a nice decaying breakfast only to become breakfast themselves.

Red-shafted flickers basically do the same thing, but they don’t have the long beaks the pileated woodpeckers have, so you won’t see the chips flung quite as far afield. Flickers are happy enough to drill holes and do small-time chipping of wood, all in an effort to expose insects. Of course, if there’s a suet block around, they’ll take the lazy way out. It’s like having pizza delivered once in a while instead of cooking from scratch.

The sapsuckers don’t care about rotten wood so much. They like to peck holes into healthy trees (frequently being responsible for the eventual demise of the tree) and wait for the sap to fill the holes with the sweet liquid they love. Insects are attracted to the sap and often become dessert for the sapsuckers. The insects are also taken to the young when it’s nesting time.

 

The woodpeckers in my line-up are getting smaller. I’ve tried to line them up from biggest to smallest. This one is the downy woodpecker, another suet eater, but he likes bugs he finds in wood too. One thing I’ve learned about the downy is that they have a very loud voice for such a small bird. I once stood below a downy’s nest. The young birds stuck their heads out of the hole in the tall tree snag and shrieked so loudly I had to cover my ears. It wasn’t that they were afraid of me and they were screaming for their mother. They were just screeching at her to hurry up and bring more food. The only time they stopped was when they had a full mouth. At least they had “some” good manners and didn’t talk with their mouth full.

And then there was Harry the hairy woodpecker. He was most elusive. I was coming along a small road from a lake where we’d been trout fishing, and Harry flitted from tree to tree, keeping away from my camera. Once he stopped for a rest I zoomed in and got the only shot I could. I didn’t see if he had any red on top of his head, but in many other respects (except for the longer beak) he looked very much like a downy. He was much quieter though.

So there’s the line-up of the possible perpetrators of wood damage around here. Please be sure he’s the right one before you accuse an innocent woodpecker of the damage to your yard. I’ll try for fingerprints (or maybe beak prints would be more useful) next time for a more positive I.D.

PS   Be on guard if your house has wood siding. They’d be happy to check it out for insects like the pest control guys do, except the woodpeckers don’t fix any holes they leave behind.


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On Retreat

Ahhh! Peace and quiet, and even a ray of sunshine as a bonus. What a lovely moment’s reprieve from Mrs. Flicker’s bickering.

Uh-oh! I may have spoken too soon.  I was SO enjoying a moment on my own.

You say she wants me to get home and help with the dishes? Can’t you see I’m on retreat?

You’ve got a nerve, taking her part. You go back and tell her …  tell her …. Oh, heck! Tell her I’ll be there in a minute.

And like Mr. Flicker, I’ll be away for a few days on retreat, quilting up a storm. Back soon.

Meanwhile, check out my website for more about my books. Three of them with love and drama on the west coast of British Columbia (The Wind Weeps, Reckoning Tide, Marlie), more love and drama on the Baja Peninsula (Orion’s Gift), and a love triangle in postwar Europe (Julia’s Violinist).

Find out more at http://www.anneli-purchase.com


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The Chill Moves In

Mrs. Flicker is in a panic.

“Did you say the ‘S’ word? Did you say snow?”

 

The Steller’s jay mouths off as usual.

“Oh, I highly doubt that!”

The rufous-sided towhee is trying to be cool. Soon he’ll wish he weren’t quite so cool.

“Now what did I tell you about that? Getting the flocks all alarmed over something that may not even happen?!”

 

The hummingbird, also rufous, is hungry.

“I’m not taking any chances. Anneli doesn’t put this food out just because she’s bored. I think she’s trying to be sure we don’t starve.”

 

The chestnut-backed chickadee gets busy, eating all he can.

“Me too! I’m eating my breakfast to build up my strength. It’s dee-dee-dee-damned c-c-cold and it might snow.”

Above him, the nuthatch is getting impatient.

“Will ya hurry up, Chickie? There’s not much time before that hog, the starling moves in, and I haven’t had a turn at the suet block yet —– Oh too late. Here he comes, the bully!”

 

The starling isn’t shy. Far from it!

“Errr-hem! Move out you little squirts. That suet is mine, all mine.”

The golden-crowned sparrow does his best, singing about spring, but finally I heard him admit,

“I don’t think it’s working. I might have to move south — and fast!”

 

I hope the birds are wrong, but it sure feels like it will snow. I remember how cold and snowy it was last January, so I have plenty of birdseed and suet on hand, and of course I have walnuts and sunflower seeds for Lincoln and Della.

Last January! Brrrrrrr….

But someday it will be spring again.

(No, don’t get excited. This photo is from last May. I just wanted to remind myself that this cold weather won’t last forever.)

 


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Stood Up

Before I let you in on their conversation, I must introduce the northern red-shafted flickers (of the woodpecker family). Mr. Flicker has a red slash on his “jaw” while Mrs. Flicker does not. So let’s listen in:

“Hmpf! Where is she? She was going to meet me at ‘The Suet Block’ for lunch and now she’s stood me up.”

 

“I’ll just have to have lunch alone. Oh, I saw him there at the feeder. I was only a few minutes late and he just couldn’t wait. Had to go ahead and eat without me. Some date!”

“Where were you? I’ve been waiting on this post so long, it’s a wonder a hawk didn’t come by and snap me up for HIS lunch!”

 

“Waiting for me? Hah! While I was waiting over here, you were already filling your face — I can see it all over your beak.”

“Oh Lord, give me strength!”

“Oh my goodness. Folks, did you see that? The Flicker family are at it again. There’s so much food for all. Such a shame they have to bicker … Haha, bicker … flicker … hahaha. The Bicker Flickers!”

“Oh well, it must be the stress of Christmas. They’ll get over it. Sure hope they have a happy new year.”

And you too, folks! Have a happy new year.

Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff or you’ll end up like the Bicker Flickers.

Think of all the blessings in your life, be thankful, and enjoy.

By the way, you see all this food around me? Someone brought it out here, thinking of me.

Why not do something kind for someone else every day? What a better place the world would be.


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Trouble Down the Road

Hey, Emma. Will ya look at the goings on over there?

This may be my third helping of hors d’oevres today, but I’ve had to work hard for them.

Getting right into it for the tastiest morsels.

What do you mean, I should stop? I’ve found a treasure trove.

 

Oh Lordy, Lordy! I see what you mean, Ruby. I don’t think he should be doing that. This will not end well. We’d never allow that at OUR house. Not with us backyard supervisors on duty.

 

***

This is not my house and I had to use the zoom for a very long distance when I found the source of the pecking noise, so the flicker is blurry (I had hoped to see him in a tree). I will be on the watch for this guy in case he flies over our way though. Thank goodness our backyard supervisors do a pretty good job of watching for trouble.


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A Flicker of Light

Sitting in the dark in my living room at about 6:30 this morning, I was surprised by the contrasting colour of the two levels of clouds — one layer of light gray and one of very dark gray. It gave me the shivers to think of the wind and rain that were coming our way.

I was not disappointed. It blew and dumped rain on us. Once the moisture had been thrown into our faces, the clouds lifted (that’s not the same as going away) and the sky brightened up.

The flicker looked up from his perch in the black walnut tree and called to his buddy who had just flown away, “What do you think, Dear? Is this it for today, or is there more coming? Should we find a more sheltered tree to peck on?”

 

Flicker eyes the roiling sky

Shakes himself and gives a cry,

Shudders at the force of storm,

Sodden feathers, not the norm.

Hoping sun comes shining through,

Flicker asks, “What will I do?

If the next storm is as wild

While I’m wishing it were mild.

Friends will fly away from here, 

I’ll be left alone, I fear.

Wait! I see a glimpse of sun.

Surely I’m the happy one.”


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Let Me Tell You!

 

I’m a red-shafted northern flicker. I happened to flick through the pages of Anneli’s latest book, “Marlie.” It took me back to a time when I made a return flight up to the northern coast of BC. I flew across to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), but the weather up there is something else, let me tell you! I nearly blew all the way to China in that windstorm.

On Graham Island near the fishing village of Masset, I ended up gripping a hemlock branch. In one wind gust, a lovely lady on the cover of Anneli’s book flew by and got hung up on the branches too. Since I was already gripping the branch, I grabbed it and thought, “How fitting!”  I’d read it before and it was  a gripping story.

When I read it, did I ever have my eyes opened. Let me tell you! Here’s Marlie, this lovely lady, newly arrived on the islands just like me, trying to make her way all by herself, just like me, and she ends up struggling not to give up on living in the new place, just like me.

I flickered through some more pages. Well! This smarmy artist fellow (I’d seen him around town looking like a charming beach boy – can’t stand the type myself), came onto Marlie. She’s a looker, let me tell you! But she’s too kind for her own good. Finds it hard to say no. And when she finally does say no – screams it, in fact (I heard her all the way to my tree in the woods near the beach) –  it doesn’t do her any good.

Now what?! She’s so much like me. She can’t go home  and admit she’s a failure. Like me, she just got here. We have to stick together. So when I found out what happened, I flew over to the dumpy trailer she was renting and imagined that I whispered in her ear, “Never mind. There are other people in the world besides those beach boy types. No one else knows what happened in the woods. Just do like me. Fly away and mend for a while. Maybe you’ll meet a friend. I know a fisherman. Handsome fellow and very capable. Good person.”

But, to be honest, I wasn’t sure they were suited. Marlie’s politics are a bit left-wing (government job, you know) and this fisherman, Brent, I’m sure is far right, being in business for himself. You never know, though. They say opposites attract.

“I’ll fly over to his fishboat in the Masset harbour,” I imagined telling Marlie, “and sit on the crossbar of his mast. I’ll get his attention, doing what birds do  in the rigging. I’ll drop some ‘e-mail’ down to him and when he looks up, I’ll tell him about you. Maybe I’ll drop the book cover image down to him so he can see how pretty you are.

“I’ll put a bug in his ear,” (Ha ha, I have some real juicy ones, let me tell you), “and then the rest is up to you.”

By the way, you lovely followers of Anneli’s blog, if you need a book to read during Christmas break (or any time) you can find Marlie on amazon (just type in the title) and on smashwords.com if you have an e-reader other than Kindle.

You will love it, let me tell you!  And so inexpensive. Less than the price of a hamburger, but fifty times as good, it lasts a long time and not on your thighs either.

*****

Thank  you all for indulging me. My book is just out and I’m a bit excited about it. I won’t hit you up about it all the time. I think I’ve got that out of my system now – for a while anyway.

I wish all of you a very happy Christmas season and hope 2018 is good to you.

See you in the next year or maybe sooner.