Friday, February 27, 2009

Teeter Totter Snow Shoes!

Have you ever snow shoed when the snow was sticky? Then you know exactly what I am referring to. As you walk snow collects at the grips on the underside. On mine it seems to be the heel grip that gives me problems. My snow shoes are about 4 years old now and have claw grips at the toe and heel of the foot on the underside. You take a step and the front of your snow shoe plummets down while the middle is suspended in the air. You lean backwards to catch your balance in an effort to prevent a fall and the snow shoe rocks and plummets the opposite way. Now if I were younger this might be fun but it takes all my strength to say in a stand position. I catch my breath and on again. I take a step, give the shoe a stomp and the snow has cleared but another couple steps and I have a teeter totter snow shoe again. So went my trip down to the woods to check my game cameras today. At that time it was beautiful out, sun shinning and about 48 degrees. Now I see the sky has grown quite gray, the wind is blowing and although rain has been predicted for this evening, one might think snow was coming again.

My first camera site showed no signs of tracks and no photos. Bummer! The second camera site was well tracked and the wildlife grain had been devoured. What really caught my attention were the partridge tracks in the snow leading up to and away from the food. It has been four days since I last checked the cameras and this one shows a total of 114 photos. They turned out to be all bird photos except a couple with a red squirrel! Crows, Blue Jays and a partridge. I really like the blue jay action photo below. Photos have all been cropped to show case the birds.

After uploading the photos to my computer I noticed an interesting sequence and wish I had put the camera in video mode. In the first photo taken at 1:42 pm there are several blue jays with a partridge off to the side. The next 11 photos showed the partridge as it moved around the area ending at 1:55 pm. I've posted some of that grouping below.

Despite my teeter totter walk to the woods and back, it was a great outing. Take time for yourself, get out and enjoy your surroundings! :) Coppertop

Monday, February 23, 2009

A little 'Spring' during Maine Snow Storm

February 23rd and yet another snow storm has dumped another 12" or more of fresh snow, some locations in Maine getting much more. Thousands are without power this morning as the heavy snow and wind causes problems. Thankfully, we have not lost power. Every window in our home is snow covered that is slowly melting away as the day progresses. Our front door was barricaded shut with the new snow while the side door steps were bare this morning. Oh, the wonders of the winter - wind, snow and where and how high it might drift! Today will be spent clearing out the driveway, walkways, decks and roofs. A great day for a hot fish chowder, stew or soup of sorts!

I walk through the house seeing winter clothes, winter boots and window views of snow and more snow, yet I can pause and smile as I look at my beautiful Amaryllis plant that has just blossomed, a reminder of Spring, flowers, gardens and green grass. My daughter gave me this plant as a Birthday gift (Dec 13th). At first it was just a pretty pot with dirt only visible and seemed like ages before the first green sprouted up. Today it is so beautiful, two blooms and one more to open.

Winter may be outside today but there is a bit of Spring in my heart that emerges every time I look at my Amaryllis and I know it won't be that long before gardens, the smell of flowers, green grass, blue skies, backyard barbecues and so very much more.

Enjoy your day :) Coppertop

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another beautiful winter day in Maine!

Today was another fantastically beautiful day here in Maine. Yesterday was a clean up day from the new snow we had got the day before. Our deck had about 12" of the white stuff to be shoveled off, thank goodness it was fairly light and easily removed.
Morning brought a beautiful sight with the sun shining, snow glistening and stuck to the trees. One could not help but ponder thoughts of getting out there and enjoying. This time snow shoes would be needed as our plowed trail to the woods was freshly covered but would be an easy walk just the same as the trail had been broken previously.

As I approached our orchard I could see a red squirrel perched on the platform stuffing his face and four blue jays on the ground scuffing up the falling pieces of food. The blue jays disappeared upon my approach but the little red squirrel held his ground. To my amazement the squirrel let me get within three feet of where he sat eating. He/she must of been more hungry than scared of me!

I stood and watched the red squirrel as he ate for a minute or so and then went on to check the game camera. I found 42 new photos had been taken. The usual number of crow and blue jay pictures as well as the regular buck but this time he was joined by a spike with one antler. I have photos of this young buck back on Feb. 12th with just the one antler and he still has it! Guess Spike just doesn't want to part with his 2nd antler. He shows it off proudly in the photo below.

Couldn't resist adding this last photo - we have just two red-breasted nuthatches coming to the feeders and I finally was able to capture its picture. They are quick little birds, so cute!

Take time for yourself and enjoy! :) Coppertop

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A sit in the woods on a sunny winter day!

A beautiful sunny day today and after having a couple of 'under the weather' days I was anxious to get out in the fresh air. I decided to go down into the woods and check my game cameras and sit in our little woods 'shack' to see what might be out and about. I gathered all my gear, checking to make sure I had batteries and camera memory sticks. Grabbed my thermos of hot vanilla spice chai tea (a new addiction!) and off I went but not before pulling on a pair of ice cleats over my hiking boots. Our path to the woods has become quite icy in spots and I certainly did not want to take a tumble.

In checking the game cameras I found I had several crow and blue jay photos along with five photos of a buck that has become know as No Name. He seems to have gotten use to the camera flash and keeps coming back for more oats and apples that I have been putting there. I did get one photo of a partridge, although not the best of shots, it does let me know the partridge is still around or at least one is.

After checking the cameras I dumped some wildlife grain on a flat platform on top of a cut off apple tree in hopes of attracting some birds. I then went to the shack and settled in on the comfy 'office' chair, poured a cup of hot tea and waited. The first photo above shows part of my view. An hour goes by and I start to wonder what am I doing? Sitting in the woods and no critters! Where are they all? Are you not supposed to see and hear critters in the woods? As pouring another helping of my tea I hear this scratching noise - something was climbing the little apple tree right next to our shack. It climbed the tree and jumped on the roof, what a racket for such a small critter - it was a red squirrel. At one point it poked his head in a window but one look at me and it was gone again! Within a couple minutes it came in sight again as it scurried up the stump and helped itself to some grain.

It seemed to be an eternity as this little critter sat on the platform and ate and ate. In the meantime four blue jays landed over in front of the game camera helping themselves to the oats there. I watched and listened to their chattering, enjoying my last sip of hot tea. I was just capping the thermos and thinking what a gorgeous winter day and how thankful I was to be where I was when the red squirrel scurried down the stump and off into the deeper woods. But first he paused long enough for me to snap this last photo below - can you find my little friend, the red squirrel in the photo? Clue - He is in a sitting position!

Take some time for your self and enjoy :) Coppertop

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

GBBC - still time to submit your bird count!

Have you submitted your backyard bird count to GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count)? You still have time, the deadline is March 1st. Quoted from an email I received today from GBBC, "Results are rolling in for the 2009 GBBC. As of Tuesday morning, we had more than 59,000 checklists, a pace that could break the all-time record by March 1."
You can explore the results here. If you are a person who enjoys statistics there is a wealth of information to be found at this site concerning this year's bird count as well as previous years.

Don't forget wild turkeys are also included in this count - they are wild birds!

My count has been submitted and though I wished it could of included more species and been larger I know that each and every count is help to the research. My tally ended up being:

Chickadees 5; American Goldfinches 7; Red Polls 32; Blue Jays 7; Red-breasted Nuthatch 2; American Crows 3 and Wild turkeys 12.

The turkeys were an added suprise for me as it has been quite a spell since we have seen them wandering about our property. The twelve in the photos above wandered into our backyard following a snowmobile trail that goes through our property. They then followed our snow shoe trails and ended up in an old orchard in front of one my game cameras where they found some oats and cut up apples. Saying to myself, ok they found the food they'll be back again tomorrow, not the case, they haven't been seen since. So very different than a couple years back when we could see wild turkeys almost any time of day every day of the week!

Enjoy your day :) Coppertop

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lets help and count the birds in our backyards!

Morning All -
Are you ready? Today starts the Great Backyard Bird Count! Go to GBBC and print out a check list for your area. Grab a pencil, binoculars if needed, your favorite cup of coffee or tea and your ready – just enjoy fifteen minutes or more as you tally up the birds at your feeders, in your backyard or even at a nearby park. Remember now when counting to record the greatest number of each species that you see together at one time – don’t add them all up. For example if you see 5 chickadees and then in a few minutes you see 10 chickadees – you would record 10 chickadees only – you would not add them together for 15.

You don’t have to do this today, if tomorrow is a better day then that is just fine. Dates for this particular count are Feb 13th through Feb 16th. You pick the time – GBBC asks for just fifteen minutes but you are welcome to count for a longer period of time. Don’t forget to include your children – a great activity for the whole family.
Have fun and enjoy – Happy Counting! :) Coppertop

Friday, February 06, 2009

What birds are in your backyard?

What birds are in your backyard?

Do you feed the birds and watch them in your backyard? If not, why not take a few minutes and just see how many different varieties are in your backyard. Don’t know one bird from the other, no problem, the internet is an excellent source of information as well as books you can find at any book store or even your local library. Watching birds is a wonderful ‘hobby’ the entire family can get involved with.

Do you know about the Great Backyard Bird Count that is held every year by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society? This year it is being held from February 13-16. 15 minutes on one or more of those days is all that is needed, however you can count for longer if you wish. You can
find all the information here. There is even a special page just for kids. You can print out a regional bird list from to help in your count. How do you count the birds? Just count the greatest number of the same species that you see at the any one time in your backyard, at the feeder or even in a nearby park. Oh, if you like taking pictures, be sure to take a few, photos can be uploaded to GBBC (Great Backyard Bird Count) and submitted to the contest they hold every year. You can view the GBBC photo gallery here. Got a minute, look through the gallery there are some really beautiful bird shots there.

Why count birds? With your help the scientists can learn and have questions answered. A team of scientists could never document the movements of so many species in such a short time – that is where you come in. It doesn’t matter how big or small your count is every bit of information they receive brings them closer to answers from questions such as:
How will the winter’s snow and cold influence bird populations?
How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
Are any birds undergoing worrisome declines that point to the need for conservation attention?
And many more.

I look forward to the bird count each year. At the GBBC site you can see the counts from people in your state. I find it interesting to check through the different towns even my own and see how people are reporting and what they are seeing for birds. What birds are in my backyard now? Not a big variety but more of each species than I remember from last year. Chickadees rarely ever come to our feeders where we live in an open field but this winter we have had a small group of six daily along with Red Polls, Goldfinches, Blue Jays and a couple woodpeckers. Some days a group of Mourning Doves will stick around. The Snow Buntings have been stopping by off and on and since they vary so from day to day in number I am thinking that we are seeing different groups as they head back up North to their summer breeding range. Some days we only see one or two and other days there might be thirty out there.

Enjoy your day and don’t forget to take a moment and look around your backyard! :) Coppertop