Friday, May 15, 2015

Life in the Country

The road running past the Aerie got regraded today. They needed to do something about the deep ruts and washboarding the forced a truck into the ditch last week after a light shower turned the clay into one slippery mess. That truck, by the way, sat in the ditch for nearly an hour awaiting the arrival of a tow truck to haul it out.

They first sent the road grader, with it's big front-end claws and belly plow up and down the road to loosen and roughly level the road. That was followed by a tractor towing a rake to make things even more level. Finally a steam roller went up and down, down and up to pack the dirt road into a hard(er) surface.

The final product is a relatively smooth ride but dusty as hell. The showers forecast for tonight might get rid of some of the dust temporarily but, hey! it's a dirt road! The dust will be with us again as soon as it dries and until the snow covers it in...October? November?

******

In other news, removing the bird feeders for a couple of days has seemed to have worked vis-a-vis bear visitors. Haven't seen Momma and her three cubs for several days.

******

The amoxicillin seems to have knocked out the infection that inflamed my throat. Things are back to normal in the swallowing/talking department.

******

It's amazing what a couple of stays in the hospital (back surgery in January, kidney stone in April) and a severe sore throat can do to your weight. I was around 220 in the beginning of the year. Now I'm tipping the scale at around 200. With Terry cooking for Rick and Sandy in Portland, OR, I might even get below that. (I tend to eat less when she's not around. Not healthier, just less. Like two simple meals a day instead of three.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bear Family: Part II

Remember that kids song about the cat that kept coming back?

Goes something like "Oh the cat came back the very next day...."

Well...Momma Bear and her three cubs came back today...twice. The first time was around 10 AM. The second time was around 7:30 PM. The first time, she stashed the cubs up the pine tree on the other side of the power line. I tried to make her uncomfortable, but sjhe pretty much ignored me with the knowledge 1) that her babies were safe, 2) she could easily beat me to that tree if I was foolish enough to try anything, and 3) she was about to have some quiet time to herself and a few sunflower seeds as an added bonus.

I made enough of a ruckus that she finally gave up (especially on the quiet time to herself) and went and sat at the base of the pine. I didn't hear her issue any command, but the cubs came scurrying down backwards and they all went off into the woods.

At 7:30 PM I stepped out on the deck to enjoy the cool breeze and heard leaves rustling up the hill behind the house. And here comes Momma with the three in tow. She sat when I yelled and the cubs looked at and climbed a short distance up the big pine in that direction, but their little hearts weren't in it. The son came down and joined Momma. I thought they would then head off into the woods, but this time Momma lead the three out onto the lawn and they all went to investigate the sunflower seed spillage under the deck.

I took advantage of the exposure of the family and snapped the photos below. But I also tried to convince them to get out of here with a few yells and shouts. The cubs took off for the pine on the edge of the powerline to the northwest and Momma followed. But she, at least, returned when I came inside.




It was funny to watch. The cubs would run ahead of Momma about five feet and suddenly stop dead still and look around as if to say, "Ooops!" and then fall in on Momma's heels once again.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Visits from a Bear and Her Cubs

Around 11 AM I went out on the deck to see if I could find the vireo that was singing it's repetitive song in the trees to the northwest. I'm looking and looking when I hear one of the bird feeders behind me go "CLANK." I turn around and there's a black bear calmly sitting there holding the feeder with one paw as it licks the sunflower seeds out.

About 250 pounds of Momma Bear

I go back inside to get the little point-and-shoot camera, come back out and snap a couple of pictures. The bear hasn't moved. I yell at it from the deck and it gives me this, "You talkin' to me?" look as it continues to lick sunflower seed like they were an ice cream cone on a hot day.

I bang a broom against the deck (it's mostly plastic and makes one hell of a racket). The bear ignores me.

I go down the steps toward the bear, pick up a couple of stones and toss them at the bear. The first two miss (from less than 10 yards!) but the third hits the bear in the hind quarter and it makes a leap and then slowly heads up the hill, stops at the base of a fairly large oak tree and sits down.

Three little cubs come clamoring, skittering down the oak and Mom leads them up the hill and out of my sight.

I collect all the bird feeders and bring them indoors.

******

Later, Mom comes back alone having stashed the cubs somewhere and heads for the area where the bird feeders were. I yell, bang the broom and generally make a pest out of myself until she heads around the back of the house where I lose sight of her.

Half hour later I go back onto the deck and she runs out from underneath where she must have been feeding on the seeds the birds had dropped from those feeders. She ambled off into the woods.

Not long after, I'm laying on the couch reading when I hear Chester make a ruckus at the screen door. I look and the bear is on the other side of the door looking confused. It probably smelled the seed and suet I had brought inside. Chester had torn the screen with his claws. He probably wanted to go out and play but was having second thoughts. I slammed the sliding door closed and the bear went down the steps and off into the woods. Again

Then, around 6:30 PM I look out and see her coming back. The three cubs scurry up a big white pine on the other side of the yard and Mom heads for the seeds under the deck again. I look out the basement doors and she's laid out like a big dog just licking up the seeds. I make some noise and bang on the doors and she heads off to the pine. I come upstairs and out on the making more noise and the bear goes off to the pine. I thought she was going to collect her kids and go on her way.

I even got the hose out and watered the lawn shortly after 7 PM with no sign of Mom and her kids.

BUT I WAS WRONG about her moving on. She came back and was enjoying more seeds from the ground at 9:00PM. It sounds like the kids moved to a different tree on the other side of the yard, however. I could hear some rustling of leaves from where I stood on the deck but couldn't catch a glimpse of them. I did all I could to get Mom to leave from my vantage point above her but she wasn't having any of it. She had found an easy source of food and was going to lap up as much as she could. Finally, I had to drop a couple pieces of scrap wood on her head from directly above her and bang on the deck rail to get her to move. Whether that will work or not is anybody's guess. Those cubs are anchor babies if there ever were any such thing. As long as they stay where they are, she'll come back.

I guess I'll not be putting any feeders out for the next few days and my head will be on a swivel every time I step out into the yard.

Just another day in paradise.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Birding on May 9th, 2015

A decent morning birding with the  Tiadaghton Audubon Society at Hills Creek State Park and then a pretty nice picnic afterward. In between, I did a short walk of my own over on Pine Creek at Darling Run that yielded a few additional species including a First of the Year Baltimore Oriole.(Of course one also showed up at the picnic a few hours later so everybody got to see it.)

I tend to simply list species without trying to come up with a number of individuals. I know it's less helpful for scientific purposes but how can you be sure it's not the same bird fluttering ahead of you along the trail? Or, if you walk back the same way that you came, that it's not a different bird singing in the bushes? Besides, I keep the species list for my own curiosity.

Anyway, here's the list(s) I came up with today.



Hills Creek SP, Tioga, US-PA
May 9, 2015 7:45 AM - 10:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
36 species

Canada Goose
Mallard 
Great Blue Heron 
Turkey Vulture 
Bald Eagle 
Spotted Sandpiper 
Ring-billed Gull 
Pileated Woodpecker 
Eastern Phoebe 
Warbling Vireo
[FOY] 
Red-eyed Vireo 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Fish Crow   [FOY]
Tree Swallow 
Barn Swallow 
Black-capped Chickadee 
Tufted Titmouse 
Red-breasted Nuthatch 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Eastern Bluebird 
Wood Thrush 
American Robin 
Gray Catbird 
Ovenbird 
Common Yellowthroat 
Yellow Warbler 
Chestnut-sided Warbler 

[FOY] Yellow-rumped Warbler 
Black-throated Green Warbler 
Eastern Towhee 
Chipping Sparrow 
Dark-eyed Junco 
Northern Cardinal 
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch 

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S23329809

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Pine Creek/Darling Run, Tioga, US-PA
May 9, 2015 10:50 AM - 11:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
17 species
[This list contains numbers because 1-it was an easy one to compile, and 2-it was submitted for the Migratory Bird Count,]

Canada Goose  14
Common Merganser  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-eyed Vireo  2
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  3
Tree Swallow  2
American Robin  3
Gray Catbird  2
Ovenbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  3
Black-throated Green Warbler  2
Chipping Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  6
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Common Grackle  1
Baltimore Oriole  1 [FOY]

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S23329666

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

The Week That Was at the Aerie

Last Sunday, Terry and I drove into New Jersey to attend a surprise 40th Anniversary party for my sister Ruthann and her husband Al. Her daughters had set this up with family and a couple of friends. A quiet little backyard barbecue is what it was. Ruthann and Al had no idea and were completely surprised. A good time was had by all.

Monday and Tuesday were lovely days of little activity except for a few mundane things. Terry had a meeting with one of her embroidery groups. I think this one was up in Corning. Then she had to take the Aveo in to have some warranty/recall work done and get the sir filters replaced. (Smelled like something died in one of them!) I ran around on Monday to get a new battery for the RV's engine. I had let the old one sit int he vehicle too long last December and it lost charge and froze apparently cracking one of the cells inside and creating a short. Tuesday Joe came up--although I told him he didn't have to--to help me put that new battery (which I had already put in) and the axillary batteries into the RV.

Wednesday was a blah day with drizzle and rain showers all day long and temperatures in the low 60s. Compared to the sunny 80s of the previous days, it was a real downer. So I made some chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday it was back up to the 80s with a forecast of even higher temperatures on the way. Terry and I put the AC in the bedroom window just in case. Then we went down to Lowe's to purchase some perennials and some vegetable plants which I, of course, had to then put in the ground. (Terry did put the peppermint Joe brought up and the couple of herbs she purchased into the garden, but I did the rest.

I noticed the radishes, lettuce, carrots, some of the beets and snap peas that I had planted as seeds were finally popping up out of the soil. There's going to be a lot of thinning in the very near future!

Friday afternoon, I drove Terry up to the Corning-Elmira airport so she could catch a flight to Portland, Oregon to visit Rick, Sandy and our new granddaughter, Chelsea Rose. Terry will be there until the 19th or 20th and will do some cooking, teaching about the cooking of certain dishes and a lot of cooing over Chelsea Rose. I cut the lawn for the first time this year when I got back from the airport.

Saturday I attended the morning bird walk at Hills Creek State Park (I listed 36 species), did a brief walk over at Darling Run (another 17 species but many of them overlapped the morning list) and then went back to HCSP for the annual Audubon picnic. I'll put the bird lists in the next post.


Monday, May 04, 2015

Busy Sunday

Yesterday was Terry's birthday. We celebrated by taking a nice, long ride into New Jersey to take part in a surprise anniversary party for my sister and her husband. Ruthann and Al were wed some 40 years ago April 26th.

It was a long day!

We left the Aerie around 10 AM, stopped at a Perkins in Buckhorn for brunch, and arrived at my nieces house in Pompton Lakes at 2:45. The party was scheduled for 3 PM.

Ruthann and Al arrived on time and were properly surprised. We enjoyed seeing everyone especially the four little girls (age 2 to almost 5) two of whom are Ruthann's and Al's grandchildren.

The SILs manned the grill and produced a nice barbecue meal including the normal hot dogs and hamburgers as well as some sausage and peppers, kielbasi, and a chicken shishkebab, we also had some cake and ice cream.

Al, Ruthann and Samantha (Grandma's little helper)

The Cake


Sis and her hubby opened their presents (with some help) before we hit the road for home at 6 PM.

Four hours later we pulled into the driveway at 10 PM--a full 12 hours after we left.