wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Wilma the Pileated Woodpecker

Wilma is a pileated woodpecker. She doesn’t have the red slash that the males have under their cheek. Wilma is a juvenile. Her red topknot is not yet fully developed.

She is hungry for insects, her main food.

“Oh, look! There’s Anneli’s garden,” says Wilma. “She’s always complaining about the bugs in it. I should check it out.”

“Now let’s have a look. Yup! Lots of weeds, so that’s good for my bug search.”

“Just got to make sure that dog of hers isn’t around. That Emma can be a real nuisance.”

“Okay, first raised bed. Hmm … nothing but stray poppies and weeds. What gives?”

“And over here, she hasn’t even planted anything … other than a few rocks.”

“These oriental poppies look pretty. Buzzing with bees inside them. But I’m looking for bugs, not bees.”

“Okay, so that was a bust. I think I’ll just stick to my roaming around and around these fir trees, and maybe check out a few stumps.”

“By the way, you want to hear my dad calling? He is magnificent!”


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Quentin’s Quest (Continued)

If you remember Quentin the quail was here on our front steps on April 11, 2021. He was lonely then, and I’m sorry to say he’s still lonely today.

He wonders if his Queenie is hiding around the corner post.

“Nope! Not there.”

“Did you see her anywhere around here? Or any other quail? I haven’t had a friend for two years! It’s almost more than I can take.”


I called and called at dawn today

In case a quail were near,

Twas quiet here at five o’clock,

You’d think someone would hear.

 

 

I hopped onto the concrete steps,

So I could better see,

But nowhere was a quail-like bird,

To be a friend to me.

 

 

I even peered around the post,

To catch a glimpse of her,

But all in vain, she was not there,

Yet naught will me deter.

 

 

I rushed up to the front door glass,

I saw her there before,

She stood there looking back at me,

From just inside the door.

 

 

The glass is messier today,

Back then it was so clean,

Perhaps  what I saw in the glass,

Was me!  Could it have been?

 

 

If that’s the case, then I will stay,

Without a girl  that’s mine.

And yet I cannot help myself,

My soul will always pine.

 

 

I guess I’ll be a bachelor,

And spend each day alone,

I’ll hang out on the porch right here,

And make this my new home.

 


32 Comments

Location, Location, Location

A few days ago, David Kanigan posted photos of a Canada goose nesting on a dock.

https://davidkanigan.com/2021/04/20/and-the-show-goes-on/

Please visit it to see this post.

I had mixed feelings about this goose’s choice of location. It’s right out in the open, and so vulnerable to predators and the weather. I hope for, but don’t expect, a good outcome for this brood. Still, if she pulls it off and any of her goslings hatch and survive, the goose will deserve a medal for bravery and stamina.

I thought of this goose nest when the Captain came home from a trip up the BC coast, having taken pictures of a goose nest in a very remote location. This is how it should be. This goose nest is beside a river, but somehow the goose knew about rivers rising in the spring, and it has placed this nest high up out of the reach of a flooding river.

The nest is on top of this tree stump, out of sight, and out of reach of the spring run-off in a rising river. It is sheltered from aerial predators by the new growth on top of the stump.  Being up high would also give it a slight advantage over animals that might threaten it from ground level.

But even with all of the advantages the goose has with this remote nest,  it is probably at just as much risk as the town goose in David Kanigan’s blog post.

Thank you, David, for showing the city goose as compared to my country goose. I hope they both manage to bring off a nice batch of goslings.


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Leftovers?

Same tree. Different bird. Same watchful eyes.

This is a good perch. I see this from my window as I look out towards the bay. I can’t resist trying to get a photo, even though it’s quite far away. I zoom in and try not to shake the camera as I press the shutter. It’s not perfect, but he (or she) is recognizable.  He’s got a great view of the beach and any activity that may signal food.

“Any leftovers?” he asks.

The herring fishery is as good as over, most boats having caught their allowed quota, but the feast for the scavengers is just beginning. Dead herring litter the beaches here and there, and strands of kelp and other seaweed have skeins of herring roe stuck to them. It all makes a tasty and healthy snack for seagulls and eagles.

I thought I’d try some of the herring myself. A friend working on a seiner gave us a few herring mainly for bait, since it isn’t the ideal food fishery time. The fatter herring are fished for food in November. But since these were so fresh, I fried a few fillets in the pan. They have a lot of little bones, but it’s so worth it to pick them out as you eat. They were delicious.

Of course they had to be cleaned up a bit first.

I feel a bit guilty about eating them. See how they are looking at me with reproach?


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In Another Time

In another time, pioneering farmers lived in these houses and kept them cozy and inviting.

Hard times and the elements have changed the sheltering homesteads to cold windswept shells. In some cases, after the original farmers eventually died, their children, having seen their parents’ hard work, opted for an easier life away from this lonely prairie.

On a previous trip to Montana, the Captain and I saw many old homesteads.

“Let’s skedaddle,” the pheasants cluck. “I think these might be hunters. The locals welcome them, but I find them downright annoying, if not dangerous.”

“Did I hear you say the ‘H’ word?” the white-tailed deer asks. Then he shakes his head and goes back to his browsing. “It’s birds they’re after. I don’t think they’re here for me …  are they? Hmm, maybe I’d better run too.”

“You’d do better to be careful, Whitey,” the Harris sparrow warbles. “And by the way, watch your step.”

“The prickly pear isn’t named for its smooth skin. Those spines can really hurt.”

“Oh, what a fuss,” the robin sings. “I was enjoying the last days of autumn sunshine in this Russian olive tree. Why did they have to talk about hunters? They don’t bother me! Mrs. Hunter just wanders around with her camera. I show her my best side, and she goes home happy.”


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The Flying Stick

The campsite is just in the trees near the bottom of the photo, at this end of the lake. We thought it would be good to get some firewood from the logging slash piles behind the camp. If we didn’t need it, we could leave it for the next campers.

In the sweltering heat on the hillside, we cut and loaded a few bits of wood.

“We must be completely nuts to even think of making a fire. It has to be 30 degrees C,” I said, wanting to get back to the shade of the campsite.

But the evenings can cool off, so we persevered.

On the way back, at the bottom of the hill, I saw something.

“Stop! There! Is that a bird … or … is it a … stick? Or a rock?”

From inside the truck and at this distance I couldn’t tell what it was. I had been fooled many, many times by rocks or sticks that looked like a grouse at the side of the road.

“I’ll zoom it and take a picture. Then I might be able to see what it is…. It’s probably just a stick.”

Through the truck window the blurry photo really looked like a grouse, but the … thing … hadn’t moved an inch in the two minutes we had been sitting there in the truck.

“Just wait,” I said. “I know it’s just a log or something, but I want to go over to it and take a picture of the stick that fooled me.”

I got out of the truck. It still didn’t move. With my camera ready, I was about to snap a picture of the stick, when it flew away.

But sticks never fly away with tail feathers spread out in a glorious rusty brown colour. It was a ruffed grouse.

At home I put the picture in my photoshop app and lightened the dark shape. Now, even in the fuzzy picture, I could see the rusty colour and other features like an eye and a beak and a tuft of a topknot.

He was very good at hiding in the twisted roots of a fallen giant tree nearby. Although I looked for him, I didn’t see him again. Just lots of sticks and rocks.


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Redheads

“Yikes!” This guy was caught red-handed – well, maybe more like red-headed – vandalizing the maple tree. Just look at the holes he’s put into the bark! I guess they make great toeholds for him.

Who would think there is something inside that bark that makes it so enticing for him?

“Hold on,” he says. “I think I can hear something wiggling around in there.”

“Mmyeahhhh … worth having a poke around.”

“There he is! I can feel him in there. Tasty little morsel … if I can only get him out of there. I’ll follow it up with a slurp of syrup from the sap.”

“Yum! That was good, but what a lot of work for a snack. Gotta take a breather for a sec.”

“What’s that you say?” He’s shocked that I’ve questioned him. “Holes in the bark? So what? There’s tons of them. What’s one more?”

“But don’t you see that if you keep going around in a circle you’ll soon ring the tree?”

“So…?

“Well, the sap has to go up and down the tree to keep it alive.”

“But I’m a sapsucker. Duh! It’s what I do!”

“I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I held so still for her when I saw she had her camera.  But enough is enough.”

“I’ll pose for this one last picture and then I’m off. I can always come back later, when her arm gets tired, or her eyes hurt from squinting against the sun, or – hee hee – when her battery dies. All that zooming really eats batteries. 

Now. Where was I? Oh yes, continuing on this line of holes my buddies and I were working on last week.”


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A Honkin’ Good Time

Skies are still a bit hazy from the wildfire smoke, but somehow the geese have found their way to the estuary. Many of these birds will move on further south, but many will stay for the winter, putting up with wind and rain, and possibly a day or two of snow. The farmers’ fields will provide food for them with leftover cobs of corn and grain seeds that have missed being harvested. In case of severe frost or snow, the geese have the estuary to find food as the salt water doesn’t freeze.

The arrival of the geese always tells me that summer is ending and the northern latitudes are cooling off already, driving the birds south.

For now, life is still comfortable for them and they chat and preen and enjoy the warm days and nights. Some stretch their wings while others preen their back and neck feathers. A few are resting, some are dabbling at the water’s edge, and the farthest one has his neck stretched up tall and alert. It’s like kiddies’ day at the beach.

Just before leaving, I snapped one more quick picture. When I got home I noticed that one of the geese was flying past the camera just by the tree on the left. Or was it? I zoomed in for a closer look.  You can see it on the next photo.

Here, below, is the flying goose at the end of a skinny branch.  It’s all dressed in leaves. Sure had me fooled.

Mrs. Goose is on the loose,

Chattering, she’s quite obtuse.

“There’s a party at the beach,

And I hear it’s out of reach.

Nobody will bother us,

We can honk and spit and cuss,

Holler loudly as we wish

And the place is one big dish.

Food aplenty ‘cross the way

in the fields  where corncobs may

Still be lying on the ground,

Seeds are scattered all around.

People stop and look at us

But they’re harmless, make no fuss.

It’s just heaven being here

Even though the winter’s near.”

“Honkin’ right,” the gander said.

“Still some pleasant days ahead.”

“Watch your language, Gander Dear,

Bloggers won’t approve, I fear.”

Gander stretches out his wings,

Rolls his eyes and up he springs.

Goosey scurries, much impressed,

Goes to give her mouth a rest.

 

 

 


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The Dinner Table

My garden is a tangled mess this year because I’ve hurt my back and can’t bend down to pull out the weeds. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.) The flowers have been so generous about hiding the weeds until I’m feeling better. They’ve done such a good job that no self-respecting bird would think it was a place for humans only. One of my visitors recognized it immediately as “tamed gone wild” and made himself at home there.  He exuded confidence and a sense of ownership, only knocking once he was already  in the door.

What he knocked on was once a huge fir that stood too close to our house. We had to cut it down many years ago and only a low stump was left. After today, I’m glad, for the first time, that we didn’t try to auger out the stump and get rid of it. Apparently it made a good dinner table for Woody, the pileated woodpecker. The spellchecker insists on calling him a pillaged woodpecker, and it is partly true. He does have a pillaging nature.

DSCN0547

“Pillaging? … Me? A bird’s gotta eat!”

DSCN0567

“Now, hold on just a minute. I think some of my dinner fell off the table top.”

DSCN0568

“Do you think it would be polite to crawl under there to get it? I suppose if it fell on the floor, I should leave it … but it looks so good.”

DSCN0569

“Hmm … What to do … what to do???”

DSCN0595

“Oh, to heck with it. I think I can get it from up here. I’m gonna go for it.”

 

Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon to a computer near you.

 

P.S.  I have just found out that the male pileated woodpecker has the red malar stripe (moustache), while the female does not have it. So this is definitely MR Woodpecker.


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Humming and Buzzing

Who’s that humming such a happy tune? Oh! It’s my friend Humphrey.

“Thanks for planting these red hot pokers,” he says. “I love the sweet nectar in them.”

“My long beak and even longer tongue are ideal for reaching down into  these petals shaped like tubes.”

“But, look out Humphrey,” I call to him. “A dangerous character is heading right for you.”

“Eeeee! Thanks for the heads up,  Anneli. These guys usually mind their own beesness. Still, I have to be careful or I could get stung.”

“Maybe he’ll pass right over my wings.”

“Look over your shoulder, Humphrey!”

“Oh no-o-o-o! Here he comes again. Buzz off!”

(You’ll have to look hard to see what’s over Humphrey’s shoulder.)

“I know you’ll think I’m a coward, but I’m going to hide for a minute. These guys can be dangerous. Their sting can pack quite a wallop for a little guy like me.”

“You can come out now,” I tell him. “I think he’s gone.”

“Thanks for watching out for me, Anneli,”  Humphrey hums between slurps of red hot poker syrup.

“Well, take it easy on the dessert, Humphrey. You’re starting to get a little belly.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Humphrey sips  as fast as he can, then suddenly stops and glances down to his right. “Oh no-o-o-o-o. I thought I heard him buzzing. Here he comes again!”

“Bzz-bzz-bzz,” says the little critter. “I’m just beeeeing a beeee.”

Do you see him?