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The 2008 Journal

January

           

January

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February

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June

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October

December

           

 Mainly it is about the wildlife whose existence around our home follows a somewhat predictable pattern from year to year but still manages to be full of surprises with no outcome  guaranteed. Since the first sighting of Flying squirrels in 1993, we have been fascinated by the variety of the wildlife to be observed and studied right here on our half acre. I have chronicled some of that activity for the last few years in a number of different formats. This year the schema will be simply a page or multiple pages per month. Follow the adventure by selecting each month from the menu.

 

January 2008

Many of the things you learn on this journey through life you just discover for yourself. Case in point the American Robin. Most of my memories of Robins from childhood and extending well into my late middle age period, now just a few swiftly passing years ago, were of them being a integral part of the Spring and Summer background landscape. The lawn bird, usually singular and  always looking for and extracting from the grassy soil, the earthworms and other delicacies crawling about. You know the first hip hoppers. Hip - hip - hop-  head cock to one side-  then gulp the worm - then repeat. And of course that is still the vision that most of us see and conjure up when we think of the Robin.  My assumption was that in the Winter, they all migrated away to the southern climes and then only returned with the springtime balms. I suppose they do in the more northern regions of the Country and Canada, but not so here in Kentucky. They actually gather in flocks of substantial numbers and for city dwellers, are rarely seen. Since the worms and crawly things are not available they rely on berries for much of their diet.  We have several Foster Holly shrubs in our yard and neighbors as well. A couple of years ago I witnessed for the first time a swarming flock of Robins attack the hollies with a vengeance. Striping all the berries from an area in just a few minutes. It was almost frightening and kindled memories of Hitchcock's movie "the Birds.  This event then became an annual ritual each late January or early February. Not as many berries this year, and must not have been looking at the right time but , caught this squadron one afternoon on the bird bath, and then noticed that all of the berries were gone, so guess they stopped for some refreshments after the plundering was complete.

 I did capture a bit of this frenzied action a couple of years ago. Click on the picture  or link below for the video.

For Cable or DSL access only

Robin Hordes invade the Holly Berries

Most of us think of Robins as somewhat  solitary birds usually seen on green lawns in the Spring and Summer looking for worms and perhaps  watching three or four Robin Fledglings following the Male parent around learning how to fend for themselves. In the Winter it is a different story as they sometimes gather in great flocks and become ravenous feeders of berries. The Holly berries appear to be just right for them every February and this year was no exception. Here hundreds of hungry Robins  strip all of the berries in our neighborhood Hollies within minutes

No long wait period to start watching but during the playing roughly  50 megabytes  will be downloaded .

 

Hmm - Looks like three robins very interested in their buddies new friend.

Like as not each year, especially when the maple sap is on the move, I manage to spot a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. This year spotted this one in late January in the back yard.

Most of the time we get along just fine with our wildlife and feathered friends sharing our little world. I would say that the two backyard frequenters that can stretch the limits of that friendship to the breaking point, are the Gray Squirrels and the Raccoons. For several days I had noticed from my office window a lot of activity in and around one  holly which happened to have easy access to the garage roof. I watched as this particular Gray had made several trips from the ground to the holly then to the roof and then out of sight. In each of these trips the squirrel was carrying a mouth full of leaves . At the time I was not very concerned, but then I noticed the activity became more frequent and instead of leaves being transported via the holly, it became the holly itself  that was being transported. This squirrel had begun a systematic disassembly of the  Holly , limb by limb. So now it had become a big problem . I tried waiting in the cold in the back yard several times to see the location of the destination of this flora carrying rodent. Wasn't easy though because it seemed when I was out there , the  activity ceased. Finally determined that the destination was the gutter at the highest point at the rear of the house. Even though the gutters had gutter guards over them, there was an access between the shingles and end of the gutter. I could see pieces of the holly sticking out and directly below several holly branches that had been dropped.. Two problems . A nest in the gutter and the shrubbery destruction. Neither were acceptable. I contacted an Animal Control specialist, who removed a whole refuse bag of nesting material from the gutter, and then sealed the access point with a metallic mesh. I thought that with the nest no longer an option, the squirrel would cease the holly destruction. Two days later and much to my disgust, spotted the squirrel chewing another holly branch and heading back over the roof. It must have started another nest, but I could not determine where. This time I purchased some chicken wire and covered the holly over the top and halfway down.  Not easy for an old guy, and it was cold too. It was worth it , though , as the chicken wire did the trick. I will remove the chicken wire as Spring draws near.

This little episode is documented via the video below. Just click on the picture or the link.

 

For Cable or DSL

The Gray Squirrel verses HowPeg. A Gray squirrel feeling the call of Spring time family raising instincts is building a nest .  Problem is she is building it in a gutter and using fresh cut Holly branches from the shrubbery. This video chronicles a bit of the action adventure as it unfolded.

 

 

We have long kept a variety of feeders supplied for the birds that visit us daily. Unfortunately for them , their presence also attracts  predators. Each year we see a few Hawks who also stop by for a meal and while a bit gross for the grain feeders, it is nature in all its wonder. Caught this sequence one January morning .

Click on the picture or the link below

 

For Cable or DSL

The Hawk at the Window. Seems as if a hawk of some description, perhaps a Red Shouldered  , makes regular visits to the place where song birds accumulate, and the picking is easy.  The thought is not pretty as one may always feel the pain of the victim. It is the way of nature though and the way it has to be, unless of course there is such a thing as a vegetarian Raptor. This short video gives a perspective of a few minutes that this Hawk and myself shared one January Morning. 

Continuing

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