Thursday, July 12, 2018

Recent Porch Sits

It was 1:30 AM yesterday when I took the Mighty Dachshund out for the last time before going to bed. When I awoke at 6:30, I figured that she was ready to go out again, so I arose. After she drained, we took our usual positions on the porch and I gave her some cold water from my bottle which she’d come to expect. She left a little in the small stainless bowl, so she must not have been too parched.

It was cooler than it had been of a morning and there was a slight breeze, so it made for a pleasant sit. The pooch was a happy camper, since the dump trucks and paver of the day before were working further out the road, out of my earshot, and maybe hers. There were surprisingly few cars on the road, considering that it was time for a lot of folks to head off to work. Maybe that was due to paving on the far end of the road.

The birds were rather quiet, having gotten over their frantic nesting and settled into being good little laid-back southerners. (West Virginia may have been the “northern” bastard child of the Uncivil War, but nearly all of it lies below the Mason-Dixon Line.) There was an occasional nondescript call in the woods, and a couple tufted titmice were making their raspy calls like miniature blue-jays as they hop-scotched around the nearby trees.

Some LGB’s flitted from limb to limb and down to the ground and back. Understand, that doesn’t mean that I had sexual perverts swinging through the trees like immoral monkeys. LGB is birder talk for “little gray bird,” a term often used to describe the entire tribe of warblers during the winter, when they all look alike. To me, these all looked alike, even though it was summer.

In the far reaches of our hearing, some crows were having a rather limited conversation. I just read yesterday that they now believe crows have roughly the intelligence of an average seven-year-old child. I have to wonder, are crows really smarter than they used to think, or has our school system successfully dumbed down seven-year-olds like the elites want?

Yesterday evening, it cooled down enough that even the missus joined us on the porch, sitting in her wheeled walker that I’ve dubbed her “chariot.” She doesn’t use it much unless she’s having a bad day, but it does make a good portable chair. A couple fawns were 150 feet away in the edge of the front yard when we went out. They didn’t see us and the Mighty Dachshund didn’t see them, since my wife’s car obstructed her view.

Over the course of 45 minutes, they grazed and sniffed their way to within 30 feet of us. They became aware of us when they got to within 100 feet of us, but we didn’t move much and stayed pretty quiet, so they were not only unconcerned, but even curious. The pooch became aware of them about the same time and wanted desperately to bark, but I “shhhed” her quiet growls until she finally settled down and simply watched them as we were. Eventually, after spending a few minutes grazing right before us, they slipped into the woods and over the brink of the ridge, where I’d heard Mama shuffling a bit as she browsed and waited on them, perhaps only 75 feet away, but out of sight. A few minutes later, the skeeters ran us in.

At 4AM this morning, hearing the doorbell that my wife uses to raise me when the pooch needs to go out, I did my duty and then stayed up an hour or so, until I felt sleepy again. I didn’t get up then until mid-morning, when I took Her Royal Lowness out to drain and dump. That accomplished, we took our places on the porch once more.

While there were a few bird calls from the woods, including a male cardinal singing a few rather dull notes, my main entertainment was a tiny sparrow that was feeding just a few feet away in the yard. It was so small that I could have easily held three or four of them on the palm of my hand. It was hunting only for itself, it’s nesting apparently having been accomplished. It had black and white stripes at its temples and what looked to me to be a russet or reddish cap. If memory serves me right, it was a chipping sparrow.

Occasionally it would get a bug large enough that it wasn’t so easily subdued, though a larger bird would have had no problem. The bird’s grip with its beak would ease and the bug would get away and maybe even make it a foot or two before the tiny bird caught it again. Sometimes they would escape multiple times, each time traveling a shorter distance as it got worse for wear. Eventually, the little bird would dine and then look for another one. I guess like ain’t easy if you’re a bug - or a bird.

After about an hour, the missus came to the door and said that lunch was ready (though it was only 10:30), so we abandoned our places on the “veranda” and went inside, where the air-conditioner was already running. Copyright 2018


Sunnybrook Farm said...

We have a lot of cardinals this year and I think the reason is that they have found that they can eat the small pieces of chicken feed that the chickens miss. A few blue birds, and even fewer yellow ones. Several humming birds are after the flowers and mimosa trees which also attract lots of butterflies. There are other birds but luckily I was able to get the starlings to move somewhere else and never see one now. I put out a trail camera which you might enjoy as there is a whole other world of animals out at night.

Gorges Smythe said...

Trail cameras cost more than I can spare for now, SF - maybe some day.

deborah harvey said...

how did you discourage the starlings?

Gorges Smythe said...

Since he lives in the country, I suspect that he simply shot every one he saw, dh.