Monday, October 19, 2009

Mio - 10/18/2009

With temperatures on the chilly side we drove up to Mio for a couple of days. The colors going up weren't what I had expected - sort of washed out. The man on the radio mentioned that this was the peak of the colors.

After we got to the house I went through my usual ritual of filling all the feeders. No sooner did I get the seeds in one feeder the birds came in from everywhere as if there was a blue-light special. Out back was no different. I have replaced a lot of my suet holders with drilled holes in a few rather dead trees for suet plugs which seem to work just great. We went up to the local feed store to get corn and some more suet cakes only to find it closed early. Went to the local hardware store to get some screening to repair one of my feeders and lucked out on finding the suet cakes at a pretty good price.

When we got back I noticed turkeys on the entrance of the trail that leads out back. I went in to get my camera and sat on the porch step - the turkeys came toward the house and started to peck away at the bird seed on the ground beneath one of my feeders. The count was twenty - males and females. When they were through at the house I followed them out to my blind where there are acouple more feeders. I watched them for a good hour before they decided to move on.

After the turkeys left I noticed in the underbrush under my suet tree Juncos moving around. By this time it was around 7:00 p.m. and I didn't have my beamer with me so I used the flash from the camera. All I could do is hope that these guys would come out a little earlier on Sunday so I could get a picture in the day-light.

Sunday morning was cold but with all the activity going on at the feeders at my blind you really didn't notice the cold that much. The blind has a heater in it so when it got too cold I would go in for a moment to warm a little. The usual visitors White-breasted Nuthatch and Red, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers andf Blue Jays. A loud tapping in the woods took me on a walk of curiosity - turned out to be a little Downy making all the noise. A Red-bellied Woodpecker made an appearance so I chased him for a while until he flew off a little deaper into the woods. After lunch I almost had an opportunity to get a better and closer shot of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, there he was perched against the tree eating the suet, raised my camera to focus in and a Blue Jay came in and scared the bird away. I sat on that bench for two hours and that bird never came back.
The Juncos finally made an appearance before lunch - one gave me the opportunity to snap this photo.
This was my weekend, to some boring, to me just to sit out in the woods and listen - very relaxing.
Til my next post.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

With a slow start - Saturday turned out to be a pretty decent day. A drive over to Pte Moo HQ gave me nothing and my trip over to Roberts Road gave me a Red-bellied Woodpecker and Yellow-rump Warblers flying back and forth across the street. With nothing else to take a photo of I decided to go over to Lake Erie Metro Park and venture a walk around the nature trail. When I got there my friend Jerry and his three nieces and wife Robin were just packing it up and getting ready to leave. After a brief conversation and introductions Jerry and group went their way and I started my walk. I was very surprised that with all the rain that we had on Friday that the trail was actually dry- except for a couple of the benches that I sat on.

The Blue Jays were flying through the path like they were playing a game of catch me if you can. In the brushes the White-throat Sparrows were moving around - you could see there shadowed figures moving but just couldn't get them to get to a spot that would allow a clean shot. They would move from the brush to a tree branch behind another tree and I would sit and wish for it to move to the edge of the branch - but instead of doing that they would just fly across the path to the brush on the other side of the trail.

When it comes to birding I found that this is where I have my most patience - because the longer you stand and listen (or in my case sit) one will eventually give you a shot - as did this White-throat Sparrow.

The Yellow-rump Warblers were moving through the trees and eventually one or two did come in for a landing and gave me an opportunity to get a few shots as well.

My surprising shot of the day was a picture of a Blue-headed Vireo.

My walk through the nature trail took me a little longer than I had anticipated but well worth it. I packed up my camera and headed for home.

Til my next post!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Solution To An Ongoing Problem - 10/08/2009

My backyard through the year has been a feeding frenzy and I would like to keep it that way - with a few changes. I have had numerous Pigeons, Doves, Grackles, Starlings, Sparrows, Finches, Woodpeckers, Robins and Blue Jays. Oh yeah! did I mention the squirrels (three of them)? I have replaced suet cakes on a daily basis (because of the bigger birds and the squirrels) thistle was every other day (until I moved it to another spot), the black oiled sunflower seeds also every other day (because of the squirrels - even though it's caged). I have watched this and decided that something had to be done.

At the beginning of the year I bought a decorative bird cage, one that you would put artificial flowers in, maybe a fake bird to add to it. The ribbing on the cage is as wide as the suet holders so what I did was hooked my suet holder in the center of the cage and hung it out on a shepards hook. The little birds have figured out that they can fit through the openings - this keeps the larger birds out of this suet cake. Now I replace this double holder once a week.

On the back fence I have another double holder and what I did to this one is took one of those clear baffles and bolted it to the front of the holder. It took a while for the little birds to figure out how this works - a few of them got it down, some are still trying to get at it by flying straight at it. This keeps the big birds out and the squirrels.

The Downy's that visit my yard were my concern - especially for the winter. Since they cling to the fence they figured that they just need to side step through or step down. Hopefully this cake will last a little longer and the baffle should protect its visitors in the winter.
I realize that this won't get rid of all the pigeons, doves, grackles, starlings, squirrels, but this should keep them from attacking these two feeders and leaving something for the little ones that visit. Besides without a few of these guys around - the Hawk that visited last year and has made an appearance this year won't come back.
Til my next post!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Last Weekend of the Month 09/27/09

Headed up north on Friday (last days for fishing on the Ausable River) to give ourselves an extra day for fishing. Saturday was overcast with no rain and Sunday was the best out of all three days. Friday out on the river gave me nothing but Saturday I did get a rainbow which makes this year (after eleven years) the first time I didn't get skinked on the last day.

I decided to move a bench out to the area of my blind. Every now and then while sitting in my blind I always hear sounds and noises on the roof and even though I do go out and look around and walk a little it always seems like I'm missing something. With the bench in place I can go out now and keep an eye on all feeders and also watch the trees tops.

The feeders were full of Chickadees and Nuthatches, a couple Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, but the tree tops had some activity of its own and without the bench in place I would have missed: a Cape May Warbler, a female American Redstart, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler. A Brown Creeper has been spotted a couple of times but not close enough to get a shot and certainly not while the sun was out. From the blind in the thicket just under the window appeared an immature White-crowned Sparrow.

The bench serves another purpose - see while I'm sitting on it the squirrels stay away - my little scavenger (a chipmunk) feels free to run around gathering what the birds drop from the feeders and the Blue Jays keep their distance.

Six white tails ran through my little wildlife refuge I've created for myself, but too fast to snap a picture. Over this weekend I decided to do a little planting as well (in hopes to add to my little spot). I planted some trumpet pods, some sumac and some crab apples. Not sure if they'll take - it is sandy ground - but it's worth trying. Til my next post.