Thursday, May 25, 2017

Barking up the Wrong Tree?

There is a lovely little trio of river birch trees growing in my front yard. Their bark is so striking when the sun shines on the trunks. They sort of take on a golden glow with these rusty flags of loose bark that wave in the breeze and make a gentle rustling sound. I know these trees are not indigenous to the area, but I still love them. 

I don't know, you probably have to see this in person to appreciate the effect of both the texture and color. To top it all off, when the branches are weighed down with leaves, they hang low - almost to the ground - providing shade for the plants that grow around it. Or the person and dog that sit underneath to watch the world go by. 

Speaking of dogs (who also bark), Baloo finds it easier to keep from getting too excited about his dinner hour if he holds something in his mouth while he awaits the completion of suppertime preparations. Or maybe he's just waiting to trade a prized possession for a full dish of kibbles and gravy. On this occasion he chose a well-cleaned marrow bone, but held it so that it looked like he was making a big "O" with his lips. He won the goofy award for the day (yes, I know, that usually goes to me....).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I spent some time watching a pair of hooded mergansers paddling around Pyatt Lake.  

They're such interesting looking birds with striking markings - and awesome hairdos.

They were shy, so I didn't manage to get close enough for really detailed pictures, but you can get a pretty good idea of the wing markings as they face away in this photo.

One of the really cool things about Pyatt Lake, especially at this time of the year, before the lily pads and other types of vegetation take over, is the way the trees paint the water with their reflections.  It's almost like an artist's canvas with that streaky, painterly effect.

Baloo was amazingly quiet and attentive - he just watched right along with me.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Chicken Thoughts

Driving back from a walk out in the woods with Baloo, I spotted this Rhode Island Red chicken striding across her yard.

She reminded me of my brother's pet chicken (though this one probably hadn't seen the wrong side of a snowbank and probably had all her toes).

Naturally, while I was visiting with my family, we were telling chicken stories. She's still missed and remembered with fondness, that world famous chicken.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Popular Poplar

There was quite a cacophony in the forest one evening as Baloo and I took a stroll after he'd had his dinner. I wondered what the excitement was all about until I saw the probable cause.   

There was a large nest near the top of a very tall poplar tree. Apparently, the crows raising their young in that nest took exception to our presence in their territory. From the amount of noise they made, a person might have thought there was an entire rookery nearby, but it was just this single nest and two very protective parents.

I did get a pretty good feel for why the lookout post way up on the mast of a tall ship is called a crow's nest, though. It's a pretty apt name.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


This little brown snake (yes, that's its name - brown snake a.k.a. Storeria dekayi) was slithering along the ground in the forest. It's about the thickness of a pencil and not very shy, so I was able to get close enough to get a couple decent pictures of it.

Just for a sense of scale, the reddish brown round things toward the upper left-ish section of the picture above are broken acorns.  The grass is pretty normal field grass, too, so it gives a good idea of size as well. 

At the risk of scaring it away, I took a chance at getting even closer so that I could get a little bit of detail on the markings. It's really well camouflaged, dressed all in grays and browns. I know that some folks aren't fond of snakes, but I've always sort of liked them (but then, I was the kid that turned over rocks and logs looking for salamanders, so I guess that's no real surprise...).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Bee's Knees

I noticed some new, pastel boxes perched around the far side of an orchard that's visible from one of the walking trails that Baloo and I frequent in the afternoons. They hadn't been there on our previous visit, so I zoomed in with my trusty little camera to take a closer look. 

What reminded me a bit of the rows of houses I had seen along the shores of  Welsh seaside villages (they're all painted in different colors, too) turned out to be hives of bees brought in to pollinate the fruit trees that were coming into bloom.

I tried to get an even closer peek with the zoom lens and saw that they were all set up on blocks in a very neat line all along the orchard edge looking quite picturesque.  

Let's hope that the late freeze didn't damage the cherry blossoms and spoil all the hard work the bees were doing to bring us fruit!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

New Neighbors Moving In

Returning from a morning walk with Baloo, I noticed some new neighbors moving into a birdhouse next door.  

Madame Sparrow was furnishing the interior with many busy comings and goings.

While she came with nesting materials and went to search for more, Monsieur Sparrow proudly surveyed their new domain.

I'm pretty sure there will be plenty of excitement in the nursery before too long. 

Don't they just look like proud new homeowners and happy expectant parents?  

So, Happy Mothers Day to all the great moms out there!