A Ground Woodpecker Sighted

June 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

The other day, we saw a medium-sized bird sitting on our lawn and industriously pecking away at something on the ground. The shape was very woodpecker-like, and the coloring was a little similar, too, but on the ground…? Out came the bird book.

Flickr Rodney Campbell Northern Flicker

Northern flicker by Rodney Campbell.

(The photo above by Rodney Campbell.)

Lo and behold. It is indeed a kind of woodpecker, a northern flicker to be exact (Colaptes auratus; Fin kultatikka). It’s unquestionably the bird we saw. The distinctive chest marking and the little red neck decoration plus the spots on the sides match.

Apparently they eat ants and other insects. We surely have more than enough ants to go round; feel free to stay, friend!

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Chatty Tom Turkey

May 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Last summer and previous winter (i.e., winter 2013-2014), we had a big wild turkey flock hanging around the neighborhood on and off. This past winter (of the dreadful snows), there really haven’t been any turkeys around to speak of. About a month ago, though, a we sporadically saw a lonely hen. About two weeks ago, a tom came wondering in after her, displaying like the end of days were near:

Turkey Mating Dance 2015

First the hen didn’t pay any attention to the tom. Later, we saw the two standing side by side, heads in different directions, twirling around once, after which he stepped away a little ways diagonally and to the side, all puffed up. It looked very dance-like. Sometimes she would then sit down in the grass, as if sitting on a nest of eggs. We were speculating that that was a part of their mating dance, but since that was the extent of the activity we saw, it’s only a guess. Later that same afternoon, a second hen appeared from somewhere and hung around the pair (shown in the photo above).

The three turkeys wandered off at some point, and we didn’t see them together for days. The tom passed through a few times on its way to the neighbor’s birdfeeder in the past week or so. This week, he came and actually spent pretty much two whole days on our back yard.

Tom Resting

This tom seems to be very chatty (compared to the turkey “brothers” that visited us last spring). He keeps gobbling! It doesn’t seem he’s trying to chase other toms away, nor to call hens ’cause there’s no-one else around. We’re wondering whether he might be protesting the construction noise next door.

Special Dinner: August 2014

September 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

For the 2014 special dinners, Mr. E suggested we should look at some of the less often used cookbooks in our household for inspiration.

This August, we picked a collection of recipes from Louhisaari Manor in Askainen, Finland. The recipes and remedies were written down in the late 1700s to mid-1800s and read like family knowledge: there’s no need to share measurements or detailed information because everyone already knows exactly what size your pots and pans are. Mr. E had therefore to improvise a bit.

Aug 2014 Special Dinner

Mr. E made a simple omelet with salt, pepper, and parsley as a starter. The “trick” was to whip the eggs into a light froth before adding the rest of the ingredients. For the main course, Mr. E wanted to try a smoked geese recipe, but we’re not equipped for smoking, nor did we have access to geese. Instead, he picked two small Cornish game hens and roasted them on the grille outdoors. The hens were served with a simple cucumber-tomato salad, which wasn’t called for in the recipe, but which we wanted to add anyway for extra veggies. The cucumbers came from our yard.

Aug 2014 Salad

As dessert, Mr. E chose a flourless lemon cake. It’s made on an almond paste crust topped with cooked rice flavored with lemon and sugar. I’d rather call it a pie, I think. Whatever you call it, it tasted very good.

Aug 2014 Table

For the table, I picked our blue willow China because the pattern was popular in the 18th century, making it a perfect historical fit. I then chose coordinating dishes and textiles to go with the plates, and I think the combination looks really good, even if I say so myself. For an additional Finnish touch, I placed our Iittala annual bird 2012 as a minimalistic centerpiece.

It’s another keeper of a dinner! Mr. E said he’d like to try the lemon cake another time to tweak it even better. Well, I’m not one to say no to that! 🙂

July Wild Turkey Update

July 22, 2014 § 1 Comment

Turns out that our wild turkey mama has been joined by another! We’ve named them Nina and Simone (or Sybil – kinda vacillating between the two still). Both have sizeable broods – Nina has nine, and Simone seven or eight. They’re also difficult to keep track of and/or photograph.

Two Turkey Mamas w Chicks

One time when they were on their way through our yard, I thought I counted 16 chicks in all, but that may have been a fluke. We don’t see them very often, but whenever they’re here, we’re delighted to catch up, so to speak. 🙂 Just yesterday they were back, briefly. There was the huge flock of chicks (on the left side of the photo below) and three adults, two of whom were engaged in a fight (on the right):

Turkey Fight

We’ve been seeing a lone turkey on and off apart from the two mamas. My guess is that one of the hens fought the lone turkey, maybe over priority to use our neighbor’s bird feeder. It was eerily silent – no squawking or clucking, just the two birds pushing back and forth for a few minutes, attempting to grab each other. Talk about drama mamas!

Animal Friends Return

June 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

Phew – some work busyness and more than a week’s just gone! Ohwell. 🙂

Both Mr. E and I are delighted that our animal friends have returned for another summer!

For the longest time we didn’t see hide or hair of the gas tank chipmunk, even though we heard some cheeping in the woods. It seems to be a bust year for chipmunks, too, so we were afraid that it didn’t make it through the winter. But no, it’s back!

Gas Tank Chipmunk

We’ve had rabbits before, but this year they really seem to have adopted our back yard as a regular hangout. At best, we’ve seen three rabbits at one time. We try to give them their space, because we like them around. Mr. E’s garden (just peas and cukes this year) is well protected, and most of the rest of our “plantings” are natives of the area – them the bunnies are welcome to as far as we are concerned. Some of the rabbits seem comfortable enough to have a bit of a grooming time by our foundation:

Brown Bunny

Mostly we see brown rabbits. This fella seems to have a butterscotch orange patch on his neck, though:

Butterscotch Bunny

I’m calling him a male, because he’s more daring and active than the brown bunnies. Just this week, we saw two bunnies apparently playing on our back yard: one rabbit ran towards the other, who jumped in place just in time to avoid a collision. It surely looked intentional, for they did it at least ten times. We lost count, we were laughing so hard. It was hilarious! I’ve never seen a wild rabbit do it; only something on YouTube.

Sometimes we’re lucky to witness wild turkeys and rabbits moseying around at the same time. We’ve seen one lonely hen, and one lonely tom, but the best of it is a mama with chicks!

Turkey Mama and Chicks

She started coming in late May with eleven(!) chicks. Unfortunately, two have since disappeared. Still, I’d think that nine chicks is plenty. We can already tell that they’ve grown

In other sightings: The female turtle we saw last summer seems to have been testing our front yard as potential egg site again. There are three shallow depressions on the dry patch of the lawn, but we haven’t seen the turtle itself. One sleepless night we even heard a fox, and I caught a glimpse of it under the street light.

I’m amazed at how much you can learn just by watching the animals go about their business, and I feel very lucky to be able to do so. I just love living in the woods!

Information Vegetable, Animal and Mineral

May 7, 2014 § 1 Comment

Yay, spring is finally here!

Flowering Pear

Not all our flowering pears blossom fully yet, but we definitely have flowers! They have felt very late coming, and no wonder: Four years ago, we had flowers on the blossoming pears in mid-April, and compared to three years ago, we’re about a week late. Wild flowers are out, too. Ahh! Even with the pollen, spring is my favorite time of the year. 🙂

During late March and early April, the huge wild turkey flock that has been visiting on and off finally split into smaller groups. For a while, we saw two toms with ten hens hanging out regularly. The last we saw them, only one of the toms was displaying. (The other one was all fluffed up, but he’s not spreading his tail out like the first one.) It’s incredible how iridescent their plumage is:

Turkey Displaying

The last we saw them, the ladies didn’t seem to be very interested:

Turkey Displaying to Hens

We know it’s the same birds, because a big chunk is missing from one of the tom’s tails. This two-tom flock was also very stable, which I thought surprising. At least I’ve never before seen turkey groups with more than one grown-up male. Because they were so accommodating of each other, we started calling the two toms brothers. (“The turkey brothers came by today with their hens.”)

Turkey Brothers

Now they seem to have gone elsewhere again. For a time we also saw three hens together, then two hens together and one alone, coming and going at different times.

Just recently, for two days in a row, we’ve seen a rabbit out in full daylight. This fella let me get pretty close before bolting:

Bunny in Grass

It’s been such a pleasure to watch the wildlife from our windows. This year will be different, though: two houses are going to be built along our road, so there will be a fair bit of noise. We’ll see who actually stays.

(I don’t really have anything to comment on minerals. I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to refer to Gilbert & Sullivan’s Modern Major-General’s song.)

Return of the Turkeys

March 24, 2014 § 1 Comment

The last time our wild turkey flock visited was early December. They really love to raid our neighbor’s bird feeder:

Turkeys at Feeder Dec 2013

Having a thin layer of fresh snow shows you interesting walking patterns:

Turkey Tracks on Driveway

In the fall, the flock seemed to grow every few weeks. The highest I counted was 24. We don’t know where they wintered, except not here. We haven’t seen either them or their tracks. Zip. Nada. But today they finally came back.

Turkeys at Feeder Mar 2014

And now there are 27! I gather such large flocks are not common. I keep expecting them to split into smaller groups, but so far it hasn’t happened.

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