Tag Archives: Nature

Oh Marten

There have always been martens on and around the property, and though I am fully aware that they like the taste of some rubber automotive parts, they’ve never touched one of my cars. So, when I checked the fluid levels this morning, I made a suprising finding.

On the underside of the hood, there is a mat attached, for thermoprotective purposes, I guess. There have been holes in it before, which I’ve always contributed to mice in the past.

This morning, the holes were a bit larger and there was a huge hose laying in there:


It’s about 35 cm long and I looked and looked, but have no idea where it is supposed to go. The engine ran fine for my small trip to the grocery store, the heating worked (thank goodness, we had 14F this morning).

Here’s the hose in its entirety.

I was able to do a internet search on the part number, but all that told me that its a “hose”. Duh. Looking through most of the 700 page repair manual for my car also revealed nothing. So, I’m off to my trusty mechanic on Monday.

Martens, sheesh.

Things in the Woods

that I saw today. No mushrooms though. We got the necessary rain over the entire weekend, but I think especially the plunge of our night time temperatures has slimmed the chance of any more mushrooms.

The beautiful base of a beech tree.
A very large frog - as large as my hand. He peed on me when I picked him up.
A very large frog – as large as my hand.
He peed on me when I picked him up.

PSA: Birds Flying Into Panes

I feed the birds in the yard all year round, and so there are a lot of blackbirds, chickadees, and tons of sparrows in the yard at any given time.

Sometimes they get confused and fly into a window pane. They can obviously break their necks doing that, but mostly they are just stunned and after taking a short break, recover enough to continue on.

Because of where the bird feeding place is located, the birds are most likely to (and most often did) fly into my dining room window on the north side. I discovered a very simple way to stop them doing that. Just put a couple of PostIts on the outside of the pane, and they realize that there is a pane there and stop flying into it. It’s simple, and it works.

If you’re having a particularly boring day, you can play “find Karen in the picture”. 😉

Since I’ve put those there, not a single bird has flown into the pane.

Small tip: if a bird does fly into your window pane and is very rattled or stunned, place a towel inside a cardboard box, but the bird in it, and cover it with a towel to darken the box. Place the box in a dark and quiet corner of a room and wait 30-60 minutes. It will give the bird a chance to calm down. Usually after this time, the bird will be ok to be released back into the wild.

This post has been inspired by Maribeth, who sent me some awesome pictures and a really cool story about a cooper’s hawk that crashed into her window this weekend, and was kind enough to spend time on the A/C unit, posing for pictures, before he flew off again. Maybe she’ll post those pictures.

It’s Mushroom Time

That means spending lots of time wandering around in the woods. I did 5 km worth of that yesterday, and netted enough for a decent meal for three persons.

Why do I bother? Because forest mushrooms have a taste way beyond anything of those which are available for purchase in a grocery store.

Even if I don’t find anything, I enjoy being in the woods. I love the smells, the way the sunlight finds its way through the trees, and the feeling of soft, mossy forest floor under my feet.

I went out this morning to do a quick check of another spot in the woods, and on the way home, I encountered these.

I’ve no idea what’s up with these cows. They’re funny.cows

Gonepteryx rhamni

(known as the common brimstone) is a butterfly of the Pieridae family. It lives in Europe, North Africa and Asia. Across much of its range, it is the only species of its genus, and is therefore simply known locally as the brimstone. The name “butterfly” is believed to have originated from the brimstone — which was called the butter-coloured fly by early British naturalists. (Source: Wikipedia)

Common Brimstone

C’est la vie

I was just taking a tea break in the sun by the pond, when a lot of commotion broke out in the large fig tree that is adjacent to the pond.

I didn’t pay much attention, figuring that a couple of sparrows or chickadees were fighting (which occurs, on occasion). When I turned to have a good look, a sparrow hawk emerged from the fig, sat in the grass for a moment, grasping what appeared to be a sparrow in his claws and then swiftly took flight.

A year ago, I would have been angry about this. Meanwhile, I’ve rethought my position. First of all, I’d rather a hungry sparrow hawk gets one of the birds in the garden than an overfed housecat who is just looking for the fun of the kill; second, it’s just the way of nature.

Silly Crows

The crows that we’ve been feeding for years stopped coming to the feeder place in late summer. I continued to put food out for a while, but they just didn’t come.

I still saw them around the street near the house, collecting sticks, looking for food, so I knew they were still around (adult pairs of crows are territorial and stick to their territories).

Last week, I saw one of the crows had landed on the roof of the garage, where I always scatter bird food. (I try to keep the birds feeding as high up as possible, since there are cats around. )

The crow was apparently picking the peanut halves from the bird seed. I went out and put a boiled egg out (I always just cut them in half, shell and all) and the egg halves were soon gone.

I repeated this on a daily basis, and now the crows check back throughout the day to see if anything new has been put out for them.

Did they just forget about their feeding place last year? Found enough food on their own? Gotten scared off by something?

Seriously odd. But I’m glad they’re back. And I know for a fact that they’re nesting in the chestnut alley in front of the property. Maybe there will be young to see in a month or so.

A Bird in the Claw
(or not)

Years ago, I read an enlightening article about how the continual shrinkage of natural bird habitats has made it sensible to feed the birds all year round.

I have been doing this for more than seven years now, and as a result, the garden is home to a very large flock of sparrows along with the usual chickadees, nuthatches and blackbirds.

While sitting by the fish pond after lunch yesterday, I heard the sparrows start from the feeding place into the trees in a manner much more abrupt than usual. I got up and walked around to see if perhaps a neighborhood cat had startled them and was astounded to see a sparrowhawk sitting in the grass about a meter from me, his back turned.

I let out a loud yell and he took flight. When I saw that he was empty-clawed, I breathed a sigh of relief. The sparrows, which had all fled into the fig and apple trees, sat motionless, not making a sound. It wouldn’t have been the first time that a sparrowhawk got one of the sparrows – I’ve witnessed this on more than one occasion, watching the hawk fly away with a screaming sparrow in his claws.

I returned to my seat and was overtaken by a bad conscience almost immediately. It occurred to me that what I had just done probably stood in direct contrast to some sort of (probably eastern) religion or belief, as I had intervened in the natural course of things and actively prevented the sparrowhawk from getting a meal. I found myself feeling sorry for the sparrowhawk.

On the one hand, I’m not feeding the birds to provide meals to other birds.

On the other hand, maybe just letting nature take it’s course would have been the right thing to do.

I’m really on the fence on this one.