The Welcoming Committee

Northwoods Journal

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Today was the last day of school, so I am now free for the summer!  Mark worked from home this morning and had everything loaded up when I got home, so we were able to be on the road by 12:30.  We brought the new trailer this time – I am so excited to take the canoe out again! – so it was a bit slower drive up, but we still made excellent time.

Mark came in through Elk Valley.  I got to thinking about all the elk we have NOT seen in Elk Valley.  Once we got to our road, we got stuck behind a logging truck coming out from Sportsmens Dam.  Our road is an absolute wreck from all the logging trucks.  One good rain and it will be an impassible quagmire.  They have dumped loads of rocks all along the length of it from Sportsmens Dam to M33, trying to fill in the giant holes left from the semis.

It is a tad bit greener than it was two weeks ago.  As I brought my first arm-load of things inside, I dumped them on the table and went to get the bird feeders.  I couldn’t believe it when I stepped out the door and saw a white-breasted nuthatch waiting on the maple where I normally hang some suet and one of the sunflower feeders!  I swear that bird heard our car doors!  It was soon joined by many other birds.  I think this is the fastest I’ve ever had birds show up before.  In a blink we had white-breasted nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, hairy woodpeckers and rose-breasted grosbeaks!  I could not get the feeders out fast enough.  It was as if they had been anxiously awaiting our return.  The hermit thrush was also singing us a “welcome home” tune.  My favorite sound in the world!

After unloading, Mark was taking a rest on the porch while I unpacked.  It wasn’t long before he was being buzz-bombed by a male ruby-throated hummingbird!  So, I quickly mixed up the nectar and hung that feeder out.  One of my students had given me a lovely bouquet of red flowers (don’t ask me what they are called, flowers are nowhere in my area of expertise!) so I put them in a mason jar and set them on the porch table.  The hummingbird was checking the flowers out in no time!  Unfortunately there was a stiff breeze blowing straight out of the west  all day and pretty soon the flowers toppled right over in the wind, scaring the hummingbird.

I only got a few minutes on the porch with my camera while the dogs ate their dinner.

Blue jay.

Blue jay.

Part of the welcoming committee.

Part of the welcoming committee.

One of my goals for this weekend is to get a GOOD picture of a chickadee with my new camera.  This is a start, but not quite good enough.



After my short photo shoot, it was time to take the dogs for a walk to burn some energy after their car ride.  We walked up Stevens Spring to the big ATV trail crossing and turned left.  There were a few marsh marigolds blooming in the water-spring and a scattering of trillium.  Maybe it is still a bit early for wildflowers?  There didn’t seem to be as many as usual.

The ATV trail connects with our road, making a triangle.  As soon as we got on the ATV trail I noticed a bright flash in the canopy overhead.  There was a scarlet tanager!!  Mark gave me a few minutes to try and get a photo, but even with the new camera, it was nearly impossible.  With the sun setting in the west, the bird high up in the tree, the shadows, etc, all I could see was a dark blob.  This was the best I got, a great shot of the back of him!

The back of a scarlet tanager.

The back of a scarlet tanager.

I’m only posting this to prove I really did see one! A couple of baby bunnies gave the beagles fits as we walked down our road back to our place.

There was a nice-sized maple that had blown down along Stevens Spring last month.  Mark brought the chain saw up this time so he could cut it up and add to our woodpile, so that is what we went to do after our short walk.  When we got back and were unloading the logs, there was a pair of scarlet tanagers way up in one of our aspen trees!

It was 8 o’clock before we ate our dinner.  Mark was still bugged by that logging truck coming off of Sportsmens.  He thought they were done back there.  So, he wanted to go see what was going on and asked if I was up for a short drive.  I really wish we wouldn’t have gone.  The utter decimation that has taken place back there truly breaks my heart.  It is so much worse than what it was a month-and-a-half ago.  I honestly do not see how this practice can be considered “forest management”.  More like forest destruction!  A place that was so beautiful just a few short months ago has been completely destroyed.  It will never be the same again.

The only good thing about the drive was that we could see the swans (trumpeter, not tundra as I thought before) are still on the lake.  I tried counting but it was hard in the dusk, with the sun setting on the water.  I hope all twelve are still there.  Oftentimes people camp in the rye field next to the lake. I am praying no one does this weekend.  I worry for the swans.  I never trust people when it comes to nature, for some reason!  We also saw four deer while we were out and a turkey.

Mark has already gone to bed while I tap away at my keyboard.  He’s resting up for his big day of garage sale-ing tomorrow!

We had a total of 10 bird species in our yard this afternoon and evening:  hairy woodpecker, rose-breasted grosbeak, white-breasted nuthatch, ruby-throated hummingbird, chickadee, blue jay, robin, scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, mourning dove.

Since I have so few photos to share today, I decided to leave you with this one.  I took this Wednesday, only the second time using my new camera.  This was shot out my front picture window.  I thought it turned out so cute!

How could I deny that face a peanut or two?

How could I deny that face a peanut or two?

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8 Responses to The Welcoming Committee

  1. avian101 says:

    You seem to be very excited shooting your camera, so far you have done well, maybe the birds didn’t smile at you but they are looking good. Do be afraid to shoot 3 -4 frames at the time. Don’t stop at one and then look up, just keep your eye looking through the viewfinder and click-click click-click. One of those will be a winner, or all too. Remember, with that camera you don’t have to get too close to the bird not to spook the bird. Have a great time Amy! 🙂


  2. kathydoremus says:

    Looks like you have a beautiful place to retreat to. Have fun experimenting with your camera. Looks like you are off to a great start.


    • Our “cabin” (actually a mobile home with a permanent roof over it) is very rustic but we love it. We are nestled in the woods so get lots of bird activity. I’m enjoying the new camera but am realizing I have A LOT to learn and my brain is old! 🙂


  3. tootlepedal says:

    I look forward to your learning process with the new camera. The start is very good already.


    • Thanks, Tom. I am trying to not be afraid to experiment and push buttons. 🙂 I’ve always had a fear of failure and messing up and letting people down. Even at the age I am now, I still struggle with it! I’m glad I have so many great blogging friends who encourage me and give me lots of help and advice. Lord knows I need it!!


  4. It’s great that the birds have learned who to come to when they are hungry! I think that you’re doing great with your new camera, just remember, the great thing about digital photography is that mistakes cost you nothing, but you can learn a great deal from them. Shoot away, have fun, and delete the clinkers. 😉


    • Oh yes, I am deleting quite a lot! LOL But now I also have the conundrum of how many good ones to keep! I remember you mentioning some of your earlier work, thinking it was good and then you got your better lenses and now you go back and look at your older photos and wonder what to do with them. I feel the same way now. (Not that my old ones were all that good to begin with.) I have so many photos on my computer now, I’m going to have to figure out what to do with all of them. I’ve gone back and deleted a lot from a year or two ago. I need to decide which ones are worth keeping and save them to discs, I suppose.


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