Friday, 28 April 2017

Bird-y Update, And Deer


Since my post last week about bird visitors to our new, very small bird feeder, I've had lots of chances to try to get some better photos of them, and even a video. No, I didn't find my camera instructions. I just winged it. (Pun not noticed until re-reading!)

I found that I could get my camera to focus on the birds rather than the window screen if I made sure the outside object was in the centre of the picture. Now I have a convenient reason to procrastinate some more on looking for that darn instruction booklet.

As mentioned in that other post, there are two groups of birds who dominate the feeder. I'm fairly sure they are just common starlings and blackbirds. Both of these birds are plentiful here and you'd think I would have known what they were. As it turns out, in the case of the starlings, I was seeing lots of what I thought were new-to-me birds but they were actually just young versions of what I know as starlings. They are covered with light spots -- quite fetching, really. I am used to seeing plainer, darker starlings.

I borrowed this photo from Wikipedia, because my starlings wouldn't sit still. But my guys look a lot like this - black base coat, spots, yellow swords for beaks, and pinky-orange legs.


 

And the blackbirds? I'd never seen them up close before. Turns out they are't black, as I had thought, but irridescent, with dark blue heads and greenish backs. Their eyes are piercing yellow, and kind of give me the creeps. Their grey beaks are strong and pointy.




We also have some little yellow finches in our back yard. The males are bright yellow and the females are more of a yellow-grey. The day I took this shot, there were seven of them in one tree -- one male and, apparently, his harem. You're going to want to enlarge this one, and even then you might have trouble picking out the birds, they are so tiny and blend in (except for the male). (You can click on the photo to enlarge, or you can enlarge your whole screen by pressing Control and "+" until you get to a size that works for you.)


Just like playing Where's Waldo, except without the striped shirt to make the search easier.



On a different day, from a different window, a different shot -- enlarged:

Hmmm ... Mr. Finch is mighty blurry ... sorry!


There are several chickadees who also come to the feeder, usually when the bigger birds aren't around. I love to see them and hear their distinctive call. It makes me feel smart to be able to identify one bird and its song beyond a doubt.

Here is one little fellow who arrived when there was nothing left in the feeder but the smell. Don't worry, I filled it again right after taking the photo.


Mr. Chickadee is blurry, too ... it must be going around ...


 
I also managed to get a video of some of the starlings and blackbirds at the feeder, from our upstairs window. It wasn't quite the mayhem we had last week; are they learning manners, I wonder? or maybe not quite as starving as a week ago? And yeah, you can see all the bird poop on the deck and railings. I've had work deadlines, so for now we still have a "poop deck" although not in the usual meaning of that phrase.



video


And here is a blackbird talking while eating. Tsk. They have an easily identified squawk, as you'll hear at the end.


video


And while not bird-related, I will leave you with this shot. These deer seem to be the same mama and two babies that came to -- and through -- our yard last year, but the babies are big now. Here they are in our back neighbour's yard. It wasn't until I uploaded the photos and looked at the closeup that I saw what one deer had been looking at so intently through the window. See the white blob in the left window pane? If you enlarge the photo you may be able to see that it's a cat. The deer watched the cat (and the cat, I presume, watched the deer) for quite some time before the deer moved off on their morning rounds.


It looks like an untamed jungle there, doesn't it? In a month it will be a solid wall of leaves, giving both us and our neighbour summertime privacy.


That's it for another Friday. Let's hope our vision isn't as blurry as some of these wildlife photos. Wouldn't it be cool if we could just "Control/+" in real life to see things better? I'd buy one of those.

Have a good weekend!



Monday, 24 April 2017

Poetry Monday ... With A Warning

It's Poetry Monday -- started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, and picked up by Delores at Mumblings, and celebrated here at Procrastinating Donkey -- pull up a chair and join us.

You can read, comment, critique, or add your own poem at any participating blog, or at your own -- just leave your blog address in the comments to let us know where to look.

Today's poem was the result of ruminating on two incidents that I experienced a couple of years ago, within a month of each other. This is the poem I mentioned writing awhile ago but didn't want to post because I felt it was too dismal. I said I'd post it on a day when we all need a good cry.

Well, I don't know about you, but I've been in a bit of a blah, bleak mood the last week or two, so I'm ready to put it out there. But I certainly don't want to bring anyone else down, so this is fair warning: read at your own risk.

Spreading misery instead of cheer. Way to go, Donkey.



*****



Three Souls

I

"You got any money?"
A harsh voice, startling me.
A stranger: tall, rangy, vacant eyes.
"Sorry, I don't carry cash."
Almost the truth: two dollars in my pocket. Heart hammering.
Not keen to be bullied into giving any amount.
He erupted with a curse, and "I had nothin' to eat since the morning. I need some money."
I wondered if swearing would turn to striking.
Wondered why he was asking for money for food on an empty street
After all the food shops were closed.
He strode away, cursing me loudly.

Later, I wondered what he'd have said, or done,
If I'd offered him the banana from my work lunch.
It didn't occur to me.
Too scared to think.
Too worried by his anger.
And, to be honest,
Too upset by his expectation
That all he needed to do was demand,
And he would be given,
And forgiven.
Would my two dollars have been enough
To make him less angry?

II

"Excuse me, could you spare a couple dollars?"
A gentle voice, dignified.
A stranger: tall, rangy, too dark to see his eyes.
A cold night, outside the grocery store.
"I don't have enough money for my rent," he added.
"I just need twenty-five dollars, and my landlord will let me stay."

Five dollars in my pocket.
Five dollars from my hand to his.
"I'm sorry it's not more."
"Thank you; bless you," he said quietly.
Later, leaving with my groceries, and with items for him,
He was gone.


III

I know hunger will make rough edges,
And corrode the soul.

And I know that addiction serves a purpose:
Dulls the senses, dulls the hurt, dulls the emotions.
(Did addiction even have anything to do with anything?)

And, further, I know that giving is better than withholding
Even if the gift is -- or seems, at times -- mis-spent.

And I know that conditions shape us, and our parents shape us,
And exposure to the elements and mental illness and being out of a job
And physical pain and not enough warm clothes and -- god, there are so
Many hard things that shape us -- being ridiculed, being bullied, being ignored,
Being invisible, being passed over, being rejected, being beaten ...

But even knowing all those things,
Why ... why ... why
Was it so much easier to give to the second man
Than to the first? 





 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Bird-y Things

I haven't been walking regularly the last couple of months, but whenever I do, my camera comes with me. However, over the past year I've exhausted most of the even-slightly-interesting natural features along my walking routes. That means that most of my pictures are repetitions of ones I've already posted.

But I do have one to share. Earlier this year I mentioned we were visited by a female pheasant. Well, a few weeks ago the male pheasant showed up. Here he is in our back yard:

Busily eating whatever bugs are awake when there's still snow on the ground

I saw the female again (well, a female, at least) just a couple of days ago. From watching the male fly away a few times, I believe they may be living in a small wooded area a couple of streets away.

Moving on to other birds now, the ones that are more common to our back yard ...

After one snowstorm I felt very sorry for the flocks of smaller birds which I was starting to see in our area (presumably having migrated here thinking it was spring, and getting a snowy surprise), so on impulse I bought a small feeder which holds a block of seeds in suet, and hung it from our back deck. My thinking was (1) I would have quicker access to it there, as opposed to putting it in the trees at the edge of our yard, (2) it would entertain our cats, as it is just outside the basement window where our cats spend some of their time, and (3) it would also entertain me because it's right outside our kitchen window, where I spend some of my time.

Well, that was good thinking -- as far as it went. What I forgot was that birds tend to poop ALL THE TIME, even in the middle of eating or while waiting to eat. Little devils. So now our deck is liberally sprinkled with white splotches. Fortunately, last summer we moved our barbecue to a different spot on the deck, because it used to be right where all the splotches are now.

I also didn't count on whole flocks of birds fighting over the feeder. It's just a little feeder, but we've had dozens of birds in the yard at once, some lining up on the deck railing, and others jostling instead of lining up, and dive-bombing each other with open beaks, and pushing each other off the feeder, and, in general, acting like hooligans. At times it feels like we're in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Mostly we are getting starlings and another bird that's either a blackbird or a grackle -- I'm still trying to identify that one because they are fairly similar to my untrained eye. But sometimes we get a chickadee or two, and I've occasionally seen a little yellow finch. And when the feeder first went in, it was the bluejays who found it first. Now they are nowhere to be seen. The starlings and blackbirds/grackles are just too numerous and persistent. So I'm thinking of getting another feeder to offer Niger/thistle seed to the tinier birds, and maybe one for peanuts for the jays ...

This is how it begins, isn't it? One feeder ... then another ... and before you know it you're eating crackers for supper because the birdseed purchases have blown the budget.

By the way, I'd love to be able to show you some photos of the birds at the feeder. But my camera always focuses on the screen instead of the birds! I need to find the instruction manual (oh dear, probably a two-week project) and see if I can override auto-focus.

Hope you have a restful weekend and don't have to dive-bomb anyone in order to get your food :)


This is one kind of bird we do not have to worry about finding in our yard. Ever. But isn't it cute? (photo by Pixabay)






Monday, 17 April 2017

Retreating in Pants

Poetry Monday is here again! Started by Diane at On the Alberta/Montana Border, picked up by Delores at Mumblings and open to anyone who wants to take part, either in the comments on any of our blogs, or on your own blog. Leave us a comment if you'd like us to come have a look at your offering.

This week I've been spinning my wheels trying to come up with a topic.

I spun them so long that I ran out of time. So I'm borrowing from Ogden Nash, whose poems I enjoy because of his dry sense of humour and ability to rhyme almost anything.

Here are two of Mr. Nash's poems, which, on consideration, may be related. This, the day after Chocolate Bunny Day, seems to be a good time to ponder the implications for my own waistline.


Poem 1:

Nothing Makes Me Sicker

Nothing makes me sicker
than liquor
and candy
is too expandy


Poem 2:

What's the Use?

Sure, deck your limbs in pants,
Yours are the limbs, my sweeting.
You look divine as you advance . . .
Have you seen yourself retreating?
 


*****

In related news, my walking has not been going awfully well. When I had the bronchial bug, I did not get out at all, and last week I managed only three days, with shorter than usual jaunts. Ah well, another week is coming.

But when I was out and about, I did get a couple of photos I liked.


Mr. Black Cat sometimes shows up when I get to this point in my walk. He's very friendly.

He doesn't really have two heads, nor a large bottom.


I wish I were as sleek as this cat. I am rationing my Reese's peanut butter chocolate bunny carefully so that -- hopefully -- I will not have to always ask myself how I look retreating in pants.

Have a good week, my friends :)


Friday, 14 April 2017

Care To Dance? Mind Where You Step.

 

In the early years of logging in Europe and North America, trees were often cut during the winter and then dragged to the nearest river in the spring. With the rivers usually at their highest levels then, due to snow melt runoff, the logs would be floated downstream to the nearest sawmill where they would be cut into lumber.

To help keep the timber moving smoothly in the water, workers would walk or run on the tree trunks while using a pike pole to push logs into position. This required great agility and was the inspiration for a folk song written by Canadian Wade Hemsworth, called "The Log Driver's Waltz."  Hemsworth was "...struck by how much the sight of log drivers at work resembled dancing." (click here for Wikipedia link with more information)

 In 1979, the National Film Board of Canada released a series of vignettes about our country, and one of these was an animated film based on "The Log Driver's Waltz." It is a delightful short film set to Hemsworth's song, performed by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and The Mountain City Four. It used to play occasionally between programs on our national TV station, which is where I first heard it long ago. I was so happy to find it again a couple of years ago on (where else?) YouTube.

It's a wonderful waltz, with sweet animation, and well performed. Enjoy!

(Note: The word "birl" is an old Scots word meaning "to revolve or cause to revolve" -- and used here, "birling" means "to cause a floating log to rotate by treading on it." Source: Wikipedia link above))




 

Lyrics (from genius.com):

If you ask any girl from the parish around
What pleases her most from her head to her toes
She'll say I'm not sure that it's business of yours
But I do like to waltz with a log driver

[Chorus]
For he goes birling down and down white water
That's where the log driver learns to step lightly
Yes, birling down and down white water
The log driver's waltz pleases girls completely

When the drive's nearly over I like to go down
And watch all the lads as they work on the river
I know that come evening they'll be in the town
And we all like to waltz with the log driver

[Chorus]

To please both my parents, I've had to give way
And dance with the doctors and merchants and lawyers
Their manners are fine, but their feet are of clay
And there's none with the style of my log driver

[Chorus]

Now I've had my chances with all sorts of men
But none as so fine as my lad on the river
So when the drive's over, if he asks me again
I think I will marry my log driver

For he goes birling down and down white water
That's where the log driver learns to step lightly
Yes, birling down and down white water
The log driver's waltz pleases girls completely
Birling down and down white water
The log driver's waltz pleases girls completely

***********

I hope your weekend involves music, or dancing, or both :)