Sunday, November 8, 2015

Autumn Creature Feature

This is the best view we could get of a Wood Duck that inhabited the back pond (I don't know what else to call it now, it's beginning to suggest permanent). About two months ago the ducks began congregating, yet I was so busy I didn't realize what was happening. A few weeks later, while felling trees, we noticed on the ridge a steady stream of walking ducks. It went on for minutes, there must have been one hundred! They are extremely skittish and do not let you get close, but I had been listening to their squeaky swing set sound for weeks. It wasn't until the parade that I understood we had a large congregation. One day, a week or so ago, they began flying over the house, rounding back to land on the lawn. Then they were gone.

Last year I did my best to save the frogs from what I thought was a frog trap. But now I'm beginning to think they want to be in this pit -the soil cut and retained around our basement, code required, egress window. I count at least thirteen in this portion of the pit, but there are more. You may also see the blue-spotted salamander to the left of the blue, roofer's trash. Next summer this pit will be excavated, probably retained with a galvanized steel, and a new, rot-proof, egress window installed. What will happen to this amphibian paradise?

Apparently, in autumn, the best house painting days are also the best days for lady bugs to seek out their death chamber. By the thousands on a warm, breezy day, a couple of weeks back, they swarmed the house. On their backs, stuck to the paint I eagerly applied, they became such a nuisance I had to quit. Several left defensive trails, "reflex bleeding" as it is known, on the paint that had dried. Once in the house they strive for light, which tends to be the light fixtures on at night. Look up at the plastic lens to see all the dark splotches of recently passed Coccinellidae. Don't bother cleaning it until winter sets in. They are stubborn too. When you try to coax them into your hand or onto a piece of paper they hunker down or, just as frequently, as they climb walls and windows, they simply drop to the floor, sometimes spreading wings to fly to another location. While gardeners love ladybugs, I have entered a new relationship to them that is, well, a little bit more complicated, and I well-learned not to paint the house after labor day.

Squirrels. This one had no idea I was standing there, silently waiting for Wood Ducks to come by. They didn't. Look at how auburn it is -for a gray squirrel. The posture resembles a man in a Godzilla suit, and by most people's reactions to them, squirrels may as well be Godzilla. Me? I still like them, they do not bother us or the house, we don't feed birds so I have no self-interested reason to despise them, and I'm pretty sure they're having more fun in the woods than any other animal. There is one thing I have learned. I always thought it was squirrels dropping all those acorns in the back yard. It's not. Bluejays. Autumn is the season of bluejays. They knock the acorns down and then do their level best to stuff them in their mouths, then fly away to stash them. Even though I grew up in an oak forested area where gray squirrels and bluejays were the most common animals, I never recognized this behavior until this autumn.


  1. That red one is a grey/gray squirrel? And saying, Me? Moi? MOI???

    I also still like them, thought now they dig the rows of greens up and are chased, occasionally.

    1. What is it that compels me to use "grey" to modify some words, and "gray" for others?


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