Not a lot of snow but enough to shovel each day. We went looking for eagles after work in the last of the light. There was only a lone Magpie picking at the remains left over from the Eagles. How I enjoyed watching these animals when I was a youngster. Their flash and gregarious call. Flying from branch to branch above the nest. Under the nest were half eaten fish, small bones, and pieces of birds; ducks by the looks of it. It must be good to be an Eagle. Willow took advantage, rolling on anything that smelled, mostly fish, but carried a ducks wingspan for a length, before I scolded, and demanded she dropped it. She gets sick on feathers. Those Eagles like to spread the love, discounting fish, rodents and any bird smaller than them, of course.
Venus and Saturn sat above the mountain at dusk. Venus is unmistakeable in evening or dawn either east or west. It’s hard not to be roused by it’s sight, hanging above the ridges against a not yet dark sky.
Lisa gave Willow a bath when we arrived home.
Very fine day,
The Chickadees have been busy in the remaining sunflowers. I put a couple large heads on the deck so we can watch the tough little birds do their business. They fly from the garden, to the deck, to the trees where they hide the seed for future consumption, presumably when the cold and snow hits and food is scarce.
A Downey Woodpecker has been watching them and I wonder if he will be the beneficiary of all their hard work.
Like all of nature these small birds seem to work extra hard just to survive. They hide ten times what they will need, because they know most of it will be gone when they need it.
A Turtle lays a hundred eggs and only a small number survive. A tree produces many cones, some fall and lay dormant, some are eaten by birds. Some sprout and are trampled and die or don’t get enough light. Sometimes it takes a lightening strike or fire to clear the brush and let them survive. Without going ‘above and beyond’ perhaps all would have died out by now.
Then there is us. Humans are the cruelest animal, it is our nature to wreak havoc on animals, resources and the natural world, because we feel we are somehow above or separate from the trees and fish and even the coal in the ground. It’s because, like every other living thing, we guard our young. For them, we produce and consume much more than is required. In this moment of time we have gotten too good at being cruel. All of our seeds are still in the trees, we have ten times more than we need, but we’ve killed off all the woodpeckers.
The last 200 years, even the last 2000 years is such a small amount of time for nature. It is our hubris, maybe even our nature and our weakness, to think we are on top, or somehow in control.
The plan is working. Song birds are stopping at the sunflowers left. They gorge themselves like it’s their last meal. A tell-tale of wildness,. The same is true of people too. Winter’s coming.
A small swallow enjoying the evening light.
It has threatened rain all day. Other than a few scattered drops it has stayed away. So far, this has been a dry spring, perhaps we will get our precipitation in June. June can be wet. However, I fear we are in for another dry summer.
Lisa and I had breakfast in the mountains this morning. There was an inch of fresh wet snow that squeaked underfoot. Willow ran rampant. Every track was the first of the day.
We heard the drumming of a Piliated Woodpecker. He was kind enough to pose for a photo and even followed us along on our walk. Willow tried to put the run on him without success. Why would he be bothered by a small, seemingly clumsy fur ball stuck on the ground?
Once the sun started to burn off the cloud the Pine Siskins and Chickadees started singing, jumping from branch to branch faster than my camera could follow.
The Ospreys are back. It is amazing how quickly they appear after the ice is off Lake Windermere. They are busy on their nests. Platforms are built on poles around the lake so the hawks won’t build nests on power poles. Many years ago, before the platforms, there were plenty of power outages and fried birds.
I raked the lawn yesterday and it has almost instantly started to green up. The rhubarb is starting to poke through. Soon we will be cursing the heat. But for now the sun feels good on our faces. Very fine day.
Which way to go?
This is spring. Lisa and I had snow during breakfast in the mountains this morning. We huddled while Willow hunted. The thawing winter smells must be wonderful for her. The clouds shine every shade of grey. Birds sing from thick once and awhile they let us see them. Every now and again the sun shines through, warming us up. Still it was chilly enough to put a small fire on to warm the house.
Western Meadowlark letting it’s voice be heard.
This guy was singing for some loving. Spring is in the air. It was a beautiful song. I heard him before I saw him.
He wasn’t as enamoured with me as I was with him. I snapped a quick photo and off he went.
Sometimes you get lucky. I hope the same for him.
A White-Winged Crossbill makes a landing.
Willow and I were up into the mountains once work was complete.
The day with bright sunshine reached 10°c. The snow, in the valley bottom, is melting with nowhere to go. Big puddles reflect the blue sky. Soon the frost will come out of the ground and the water will be absorbed where it can do some good.
Sun halo. Caused by ice crystals in the air.
Willow and I walked a frozen snowmobile path into the mountains. The birds, numerous, chirped in unison, but most refused to be seen. It’s hard to consider yourself a smart animal in their company, under the spruce, rock and snow while they rule from above, laughing at our plight nature inflicted.
A Pine Siskin, responsible for the trees going ‘zzzweeeet’!
Once off the path I sunk up to my knee. I remembered being young, setting off in the morning in the cold, before the sun cleared the mountains, walking easy on top of the snow, only to find the same snow soft once the afternoon took over, and having to slog back slowly home, taking twice the time for the same distance.
Colour among the buds.
I kept the windows open on the ride home listening for song.
A couple of Crossbills commission last years’ copious cone crop.
Very fine morning.
There mornings are brilliant but a chilly -28°. The afternoons warm to about -3. These are fantastic days when spring is trying to bust through.
This male Northern Flicker knows the score. He is banging on the top of the pole getting the metal parts singing with vibration. He is a real show off, securing the first of the sunshine, trying to attract a mate.
When I was a kid we used to have a Flicker that rapped on our metal chimney cap. It made a heck of a racket throughout the house.
To all of our delight my father used to sing:
The woodpecker pecked
on the school house door.
He pecked and he pecked
till his pecker was sore.
This is a a not so great picture of a Red Crossbill, taken from a long way away in bad light.
Still I was happy to get it. It was taken hell-and-gone behind Swansea, up the creek.
I always wondered about crossbills. Were their beaks a mistake of nature. Did God screw up after a night of drinking with the Devil both of them trying to gain insight into each others character?
Why else would they have that look. Beaks crossed in some kind of awkward grin.
Red Crossbills are found at the top of spruce using their perfectly shaped mandibles separating cones from the tender seed which they eat.
Spruce, fir, tamarack and pine produce more cones than needed. Plenty of squirrels take care of the excess along with other animals.
What they don’t get, the ones high on the trees, the Crossbill take care of.
I don’t care who’s in charge. It’s nice to know there ain’t any mistakes.