Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Irruption at the Feeder

Pine Siskin at the feeder

Sunflower seed and thistle mixture do not last long in the bird feeders, which I hung following the storms. A variety of birds fly in from all directions to take their turn, although a few squabbles sort out the pecking order. Chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches dash in and out for just one fat seed, chased by vociferous tufted titmice. A sedate red-bellied woodpecker takes its own sweet time, while cardinals and blue jays clear the area with their presence. Below the feeder on the ground white-throated sparrows and a lone fox sparrow perform their little skips and hops to scrap up spilt seed. This all changes when huge flocks of pine siskin descend and dominate the feeder for an hour or so at a time. This being an irruptive year for these sweet little birds, I am pleased to see them and prefer them emptying the feeder than the squirrels. 

Echinacea seed head picked clean by goldfinches

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Downed Oak

The wrath of hurricane Sandy did not untangle the woods behind our house, but brought down an oak out front. The top of the tree was snapped off like a matchstick. It landed, as if placed conveniently, on our septic field without destroying car or roof or power line. It is sad to see the destruction of such a majestic tree. The downed trunk and limbs gave me an opportunity to observe the top and innards of the tree up close and reminded me of the huge amount of biomass a tree supports. Amongst the splinters and twisted sinews, which still smell sweet of freshly severed wood, you can see the heartwood and sapwood. The bark of the tree is adorned with pale green foliose lichen. Leaf buds held on the tips of twigs amongst yellowing leaves will never fulfill the promise of spring.