Monday, October 23, 2006

Chasing Chickadees

It's not entirely clear to me why I haven't been able to write here much lately. Something to do with being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of publishing, or a concern that the stories I have to tell that fall within the purview of the blog are getting repetitive, or some general fatigue caused by too many wars, and a government that is taking us down a bad, bad road much faster than I thought they would or even could when they were elected last January. (It's been a real civics lesson for me, learning just how much power a minority government can wield!)

But today I remembered what I value about having done this now for almost two years. The record I've been building up: casual and hit-and-miss as it is, it is the beginning of a record of the rhythm of the year. I remembered because I was curious about what was around last October, and realized I could check the blog.

Last October was rainy too, but warmer, following a much warmer September. The juncos were here by this time last year, but last year I'd already seen a Tree Sparrow by now, a winter feeder bird. I haven't seen one yet this year. The last day of October 2005 was warm and sunny, and covered with ladybugs, and a few wasps. It could happen again this year, but it's been ages since I've seen a wasp, or a ladybug.

A few days ago a mess of Golden-crowned Kinglets accompanied by sparrows I never got a good look at visited the front yard. Juncos have been visiting in small flocks, then this morning I looked out the back window and saw a mixed flock of song and white-throated sparrows. Walking, more sparrows in the fields, mostly song, then in the cedar bush, a very noisy flock of chickadees. I walked over to see who might be with them.

Something I've noticed this year more than I have before is how often travelling warblers and kinglets are to be found hanging out with chickadees. And one of the great thing about chickadees, contrary to the title of this post, is that you don't have to chase them at all. Sure, I wandered towards them today, but if I'd just waited they would probably have come to me. I could hear that they'd already noticed that I was nearby. And the Golden-crowned Kinglets with them today would have come along too.

So wait for them, or go over to them, but pay attention to the chickadees this time of the year for themselves, and for the hangers-on.

Conditions in Thomasburg:
Rain, gusting winds, temperature around 5C all day (damp and chilly!!)

Most of the leaves are down. We've had a few frosts, enough that all tender plants have frozen; hardier ones are vibrant green from weeks of rain.

eastern red cedar berries
Like so many others this year, some of the red cedars have fruited spectacularly.
In the upper right you can see a small gall that will "blossom" one day next spring.

Birds in the yard this morning:
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Goldfinch (solitary specimen, looking lost)
Black-capped Chickadee
Dark-eyed Junco
American Crow
American Robin
European Starling
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Blue Jay

Birds on the walk this afternoon:
Mourning Dove (so many!! spread out all over the place, apparently in pairs)
sparrows, spp.
Song Sparrow
Blue Jay
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Black-capped Chickadee

5 comments:

bev said...

I'm glad you posted and put into words how you've been feeling. I've been feeling a little of the same, especially after having traveled in the west as it seems like there was a strange mood in the air - difficult to pin down, but it felt like anger and despair. As I read the daily news, I'm feeling some of that as well. I may begin to write about some of those thoughts when I get them sorted out, but suffice to say, I too am feeling that fatigue and some degree of amazement over how things can turn bad so quickly.
But, turning back to nature -- yes, the chickadees are all around my place now -- and many blue jays too. Wild cucumber grows over our porch each summer, and after the fruits dry out, the jays gather to break them apart to get at the huge, black, watermelon-like seeds.
Keep on writing -- the stories on your blog are not the least bit repetitive. Btw, can't remember if I commented or not, but those walking stick photos were terrific.

John said...

It is amazing how bad things can get in a short period. When Bush was elected I did not expect that he would push such a radical agenda with such a small majority. I guess I know better now.

Pamela Martin said...

Bev, John, Thanks for the supportive words. Strange evening last night, after I posted and before I saw your comments, I discovered that Creek Running North, a blog I had been becoming increasingly attached to, had been taken down in response to a dustup among some political bloggers that had taken a very nasty turn. Your comments made the world look a little better again.

Bev, I've been enjoying your posts from out west--thinking that I'd like to hit that westward trail again sometime soon--it's been a while.

John, interesting in the abstract at least, are the similarities between some of the underlying motives of the Bush administration and those of the government we've saddled ourselves with here--leading to among other things, Canada falling into lockstep with American foreign policy. I hope both that you get some turnaround with your mid-term elections (as I gather is expected), and we do with our next election, which is likely to be soon.

bev said...

Pamela - I too was very dismayed to see that Chris has shut down Creek Running North. Such a shame. I found it cast a bit of a pall over my blog-reading rounds yesterday. I'm hoping that the situation is temporary, but will understand if it isn't.
As for your longing to do another trip out west, as I may have mentioned either in one of my posts or in a comment, I'm too am giving some serious consideration to another trip west - perhaps in the coming year depending on a bunch of factors. I'd like to travel more slowly, rambling along a route that would take me around to visit a few friends along the way, and ultimately end up out at the coast. Don would probably fly out and we'd trip back across the country in a slightly more direct route over his holidays. Anyhow, we'll see.
Regarding the politics here in Canada - I find it incredibly irksome to see the direction that this government is taking foreign policy (among other things). Several people have told me (since the last election), that if they had had any idea of how things would have developed, they would not have voted for the Conservatives. To me, the handwriting was on the wall from a long way back and the current state of affairs should not surprise anyone. Oh well, one can only hope that some degree of sanity returns after the next election. In the meantime, I try not to let things get me down too much.

Pamela Martin said...

Bev, that is good news about people who voted Conservative being unhappy with what they got. I haven't had the chance to talk politics with anyone who voted for them (too insulated?), so haven't heard that. But my sense is that their plans for the rest of this session of Parliament will alienate more people: another reason for optimism, painful as the next few months may be.