wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Groundhog Day

The weather gods must have heard me saying all we get is wind and rain – and okay, a little bit (a lot) of snow – so they decided to send us something different just for a bit of variety.

Is it ice for the birds to put in their drinks?  We could have a party for the birds! Maybe these are tiny marshmallows for their dessert?

Then so many of these icy particles came down that it was way more ice or marshmallows than we needed for the party. And all this, just a day after I noticed the “daffy dolls.”

Things got serious when the wind came up at the same time, causing chaos at the bird feeding station.

Oh, where is spring? I hear many of the Canadian groundhogs saw their shadow today and we’ll have six more weeks of winter. Others disagreed. I hope the others are right. I like to cheer for the under hog.

Please visit my website if you need more winter reading until spring comes for keeps.

http://www.anneli-purchase.com


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A Little Surprise

I’ve done a post about the leylandis before but now we have a new development.

Back in April, we decided it was time to take out the two leylandis that had grown way bigger than anticipated. They were infringing on everything around them. The walnut tree on the left of the photo was leaning farther and farther towards the sun and losing branches on the shady side where the leylandis crowded them out.

Here the leylandis are cut down and you can see that the walnut looks like half a tree.

Now in full foliage, it is beginning to look better, but it is still leaning away from the place where the leylandis were.

On the other side of the leylandis, right near the walnut, are two big fir trees that also suffered from a lack of light, being crowded out by the leylandis.  See all the dead branches?

Here is the stump of one of the leylandis, with a round of wood sitting on it.  Beside it is a small sunflower that has grown there without the benefit of much water or care. I only discovered it a couple of days ago.

What’s it doing there?! I didn’t plant it. I suspect that a nuthatch or chickadee brought a sunflower seed from the birdfeeder on the other side of the yard, and wedged the seed into the leylandi bark to hold it fast while it picked at it to open the shell. The seed must have fallen and over time, become covered with soil.

A splash of rain and few rays of sun, and  a new sunflower sprouted. Since I didn’t know it was there, it didn’t get as big as it would have, if I had watered it and put some good soil on it, but even so, I was happy to see how much it had managed to grow.

I feel like a plant detective, trying to figure out why the sunflower grew there. Did a bird inadvertently plant it, or was it maybe dropped by Lincoln the squirrel? It would be interesting to know the real answer.

 


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Greedy Guts

This varied thrush is in the same family as the robin, but for some reason we see them here more often in the winter or very early spring. I think this might be Mrs. Thrush.

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Mr. Thrush, I presume? Either way, they are cooling their heels on the mound of snow that covers the top of a rhododendron. It seems Greedy Guts is hogging the feeder.

029aNo one else can get near the suet block. I can just hear that starling calling from the feeder, “Eat your heart out.” Sure, the starlings are hungry too, but they don’t care if the other birds starve. I don’t like that.

100 Europeans starlings were introduced (unfortunately, IMHO) to North America in 1890-1891. Now the bullies are everywhere. Pests, they are. They do have a talent for mimicking other bird sounds, which makes them interesting, but still not lovable.

My pretty little thrushes, sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches,  and juncos are afraid of the starlings and have to wait until he goes away to burp or take an antacid pill, before they can have a turn at the dinner table.

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The starling’s coat is glittery

With iridescent shine.

His manners are atrocious, 

But he’s master of the mime.


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Blurry Feeding Frenzy

No, they’re not sharks in this feeding frenzy, but they’re bushtits. This is the picture I was trying to get the other day when there were so many birds at the suet all at the same time. One photo I took today had a couple more birds than this one, but it was even blurrier. The reason for much of the blur is that it is taken through the window and I haven’t cleaned my windows for months, since the bad weather started. The salt spray reaches us even though we’re quite some distance from the water and it only takes one wind/rain storm to mess things up again. So why bother until spring? This window is too hard to reach anyway. Trying to focus on birds that won’t hold still was another challenge, so don’t look for sharp lines in this one – just count the little bodies. I think I see 11 of them. If I had risked opening the window to take the picture, the bird count would have been 0.

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Are We Hungry?

When I went outside in the bitter cold the other day to refill the birdfeeders and put out more suet, I was surprised that there were no birds around. I wondered if a hawk had passed by to bully them. I refilled the feeders anyway, and hung more suet in the wire cage along with the half finished suet block. As I worked I heard one bird tell another, “She’s bringing fresh food,” and another bird answering, “I know, I know. I see!”

It reminded me of standing in a Chinese smorgasbord line-up, looking at the dregs of a pan of … something … and then seeing the waitress bring over a new steaming hot pan of fresh chow mein.

As soon as I left the birdfeeder area, a flock of tiny birds (bushtits, I think) came to the suet and covered the whole block with their hungry little bodies. When I looked back I couldn’t even see the suet block, only a swarm of feathers. I think now, that maybe the suet had frozen and was hard to pick at. It was that cold. The fresh block was not frozen and everyone ate well that night. My photo shows only six of the birds, but I’m sure there were more than ten or twelve on the suet in those first moments after I left.
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Harshest winter, freezing cold,

Tests survival of the bold.

Icy winds pierce feathers fine

As the tiny creatures dine.

They know they’ll die if they can’t eat

So at the feeder they all meet.

New suet hangs there in the wire

Perhaps their fate is not so dire,

Internal furnaces will warm

The bodies of the little swarm.

They’ll live to see another day

And soon the spring will come to stay.