Friday, October 10, 2008

Where did they all come from?

I've been lamenting the fact that most of the birds and animals seemed to have disappeared locally. The wildlife in the back yard had been reduced to Doorstep Dove and sometimes Friend at sunset, pilfering Gray Squirrels, the dawn to dusk cheek stuffing sessions of Chewie the Chipmunk, and a half grown Cottontail who showed up to feed on the patio at 2am.

That is until today. When I pulled back the curtain to look out early this morning with virtually no expectations, suddenly the place was full of creatures. A half dozen Robins were zipping after each other around the Concord Grape vine. See the Robin above?

He had evidently decided that all the grapes were his and whenever another Robin made a mad dive through the vine to grab one, he took off after him.
Parts of the vine were beginning to get that plucked look.

Though there were still plenty to attempt to protect. The Robin and Grape Game came to a complete standstill when, finally, a Blue Jay appeared. The first I've seen in the yard since last winter and true to his kind, his voice proceeded him. He was loud, full of himself, and looking for some action. The Robins decided retreat was the better part of valor.
On the feeding floor, there were Juncos and White-throated Sparrows. Probably not our local winter residents quite yet but someone's a little further south.
White-breasted Nuthatch has been around for two weeks, though I've usually only heard him. Two fleeting glimpses were my quota until today. Today he was extremely busy hatching sunflower seeds into the stump. But he wasn't getting them from the feeder. He was moving previously stashed seeds from their initial hiding places in the bark of the Maple to the bark of the stump. One assumes he felt they weren't save in their previous position. But why? Only he knows and so far he's not sharing the information.

Later when I went outside into the summer mimicking day, I discovered that one entire side of the house, including the blue-billed yard duck was hosting a tremendous swarm of what the neighbors call Flying Ants. ??? And once I started looking around the air was full of them as well.

Anyone recognize them?
My phone rang and I was told that there were Sandhill Cranes out a Thresherman's Park so I hopped in the car to go try my luck.

I saw two Cranes overhead on the way, but when I got to the wheat field, instead of cranes I found a turkey who seemed to be watching the sky.

Then she was watching me. But instead of having the usual frightened Turkey expression somehow her expression looked more sad and long suffering. She did keep an eye on me but didn't rush off into the woods in a tizzy. Instead she compromised and foraged near the verge of the the field and woods.

There were many small birds as well. But most seemed to be flitting this way and that too rapidly to get a camera on them. The air here too, was full of the "flying ants" and they must make a tasty meal because the insect eaters were having a field day.

After a half hour of nabbing the little winged beasties, the Bluebirds went over to the dead tree and digested.

Then a group of robins began to invade the tree. Suddenly they seemed to be attempting to run the Bluebirds off their perches. Which worked. The Bluebirds just moved to another tree and didn't' really seem at all put out.

A Robin surveys the area and small flock gathered in the tree. After a few minutes of Robin calls they all headed into the east section of the woods.

In the meantime, more turkeys had appeared. In fact there were nine of them eventually. Which has to qualify as a rafter of Turkeys, certainly.

The birds are definitely on the move again.
What will tomorrow bring?
Donegal Browne

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