Tag Archives: woodpecker

April 1- re-hanging the birdfeeder

April first, a most spring-like day, no foolin’.  Windy and cool, with alternating patches of sun and cloud, moments of cold rain followed by bursts of warm sunshine.  I didn’t manage to squeeze in any walks in the woods, between work and kids, although I did manage to spend much of the afternoon outside, mostly following the boys around while they pretended to be hunter-gatherers.

A couple of weeks back, while I was in Baltimore, the rope broke on my birdfeeder, which came crashing to the ground.  For the past several years, I had hung it using a semi-elaborate pulley system that allowed me to easily fill the feeder from the back deck, then hoist it up to the edge of the trees so that it hangs in a location that is far off of the ground, up in the branches.  The idea was that I would be able to lie in my bed on cold winter mornings and watch the birds at the edge of the forest.  It worked quite well, and even after I gave my precious corner room to the boys and changed rooms, I continued to fill the feeder and enjoy the birds.  I’ve been so used to seeing “my” birds every day , that having the feeder sit empty and forlorn on the ground was getting me quite depressed.  So this afternoon, I hoisted a ladder up to the deck, climbed up to the metal ring that I have hung in the tree, and re-strung the pulley with fresh new rope (kind of sketchy– hope I don’t have to do that again for a while!).  I also cut the branch that had been rubbing against the rope, which was most likely what caused it to break.  While I was up in the trees, I took this photo of the backyard from the perspective of the birdfeeder, a perspective that I rarely see, as I am not often 25 feet up in that particular tree (or any tree, for that matter).

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It took the birds a little while to start seeing the freshly-filled feeder, after two disappointing weeks of not having it there.  This downy woodpecker looks a bit suspicious, but it soon came over for a feed.Image

As I brought the ladder back to the courtyard, I was struck at the overwhelming greenness of the garden’s cover crops.  I’m not sure what we’re growing here, some sort of fertility-enhancing grass that will be plowed into the soil before we plant our summer vegetables.  But boy is it ever green!

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Now that it’s April, the days have grown noticeably longer, with well over an hour of post-dinner daylight every day.  10 days past the equinox, we’re in the longer day/shorter night time of year, and at the time of year when the increase in day length from day to day is the greatest.  You really almost can feel the days getting longer every afternoon.Image

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March 31- Easter flowers

Lions and lambs notwithstanding, March is going out much like it came in, mostly cold, gray, and wet.   Drizzly Easter Sunday presented quite a contrast to the Sunny Saturday that preceded it.  I spent the morning depressed about some expensive musical equipment that got lost last night, then went for a walk in the dripping woods to get my mind off of it.

The berries in my backyard (at least the raspberry and gooseberry plants) have started to put out leaves, although fruit is still many weeks away.  Image

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In the woods, I’ve been noticing more and more holes in the trees, presumably made by woodpeckers.  This one was unusual for how clean and perfectly round it was. Image

Many flowering trees and shrubs in the forest lack the kind of large showy blooms that we imagine when we think of wildflowers, but their flowers, though small and inconspicuous  are actually quite pretty.   These were growing on some spindly understory plant to which I had never given a second look previously.Image

At the graveyard, I spotted these opening blooms, which had been planted on the grave of a woman who had been born at Twin Oaks and died young a decade ago.  I hadn’t noticed them on past trips up this way.  Although they were clearly planted by someone, the semi-wild look of the Twin Oaks cemetery gave them a “forest wildflower” feel.   I’ll try to return in a week or so when they’re fully opened– should be pretty spectacular.Image

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In the orchard right next to my house, which was planted about four years ago and is still a work in progress, the flowers on the cherry trees are just starting to open.  There are many buds which look like they could pop at any minute, and a very few open flowers.  This, too, will look pretty amazing in just a few days!Image

In another corner of the orchard is a “plumcot,” which bears a tasty fruit that is unfortunately a favorite of worms and grubs.  The plumcot’s flowers, while not quite as spectacular as the cherry blossoms, are numerous, and have all started to open just over the past couple of days.   With this latest patch of cold wet weather, there is a feeling of building potential, as though all it would take is a couple of warm sunny days to trigger a frenzy of leaf and bud.   Image

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Jan 25– baby it’s cold outside

Cold, of course, is a relative thing. This past week, I have had FB friends from Maine post about daytime highs of -5. I have read in the news of lake effect snowfalls measured in feet rather than inches. Jack London, in To Build a Fire, writes of the crackle of spit freezing before it hits the ground. We haven’t had any of that, so I can’t really complain. A cold day, by central Virginia standards, is a day where the temperature never quite hits freezing. And that we’ve had. It’s Friday now, and we haven’t had temperatures over 35 degrees since Monday, which, ’round here, makes for a pretty significant cold snap. This morning, when at dawn I left my warm bed with great reluctance to let the chickens out, we were sitting right around 10 degrees, which is about the coldest daytime temperature that you’re likely to see in Louisa County.

It’s been snowing again today, an unenthusiastic on-and-off crushed ice sort of drizzle that doesn’t hold much promise of accumulation, just enough to maintain an appropriately bleak wintery landscape. I snapped the picture below as I walked down to collect eggs, during a brief moment where the snow was falling hard enough to look as though it might possibly amount to something:

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Closer to the chicken yard, there were literally hundreds of small black birds (which I believe were grackles), covering the compost, perched in the apple trees, massed in the field, and in the chicken yard itself.  They all took flight as I approached, but I was able to get a couple photos that give some idea of the avian abundance I encountered:ImageImage

 

On the way back, I stopped to check on the pond again.  The ice was thicker than it had been yesterday, but I still wasn’t feeling confident enough to walk out onto it.  As I was walking around the water’s edge, I noticed these bulbs (daffodils? tulips?) beginning to poke their way out of the snow.  A nice reminder that, even during the coldest days of winter, the earth is preparing for the floral displays of springtime.

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And finally, a birdfeeder update.  Today, in addition to all of the bird species I have listed before, I spotted this morning a red-headed woodpecker, and also this brightly-colored male cardinal (which I had seen before but wasn’t able to get a picture of) I also saw a bluebird at the feeder a couple of days ago, which was surprising, given the time of year.  ImageImageImage

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Jan 17-woodpecker!

Jan 17-woodpecker!

Another bird to add to my list– either a hairy woodpecker or a downy woodpecker. I can’t tell the difference. So far this season I’ve seen at the feeder:
the woodpecker, cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, juncos, doves. More to come, I’m sure.