Thank you Tina for hosting Wildlife Wednesday where people are encouraged to share their wildlife experiences and photos the first Wednesday of each month.
Things Left Behind
Going for a walk outside is a bit like stepping into a mystical adventure. I wouldn’t ever dare to expect to find something wonderful but moments of grace happen just often enough that I am always hopeful. Sometimes the moment is all drama like the time I saw a cat kill a wren right before my eyes and shared the horror and agony of the flock/family as it darted around screaming its heartbreak. I didn’t know if I should hide away the limp body to ease their distress or give them time to say goodbye.
Other times the moment is as gentle and ephemeral as a finding a cast off feather or abandoned egg shell. What happened here in my absence? I can’t know for sure and that’s ok. Those tiny things — found objects — remind me the world goes on with or without my presence and that idea is more than ok.
I feel like each encounter with the wild is a delicate thing. So much can go wrong that the moments when we do connect feel like gifts.
Just as I watch out for wild things, I know our house is also under surveillance. As soon as I open the door in the morning I will hear the chpchpchp of a cardinal followed by wing flutters. It is usually a juvenile, hungry and lurking patiently. It will return in a moment or two with friends to share some breakfast seed. They know my habits. Before I even make coffee I pour seed into the feeder.
The animals we share this space with extend some trust but I usually sense more wariness than curiosity.
are the exception to that rule. They are fearless. They don’t startle even at an arm’s reach away.
I have no idea how the squirrel below found a pecan at this time of year. I actually wonder if it fell out of someone’s lunch on their way to school. 2013 was a really bad year for pecans: not only was it an off production year but we didn’t get enough chill hours for even the random nuts to set. Luckily, the squirrels usually have plenty of pecans to eat here most years. They also eat acorns and will nibble on grasses and herbs. I swear I saw one eating sunflower leaves one spring.
I love their energy. The games of tag, the acrobatics on the high telephone wires, their mad leaps from tree branch to tree branch … boundless. They look like freedom.
The Invisible Anole and other Reptiles
I was thrilled to finally get a shot of an anole — which are common everywhere in Austin but here. One day I happened to glance up and saw a splash of green way up on the trunk of the oak tree. When I zoomed in with the camera I was surprised to see it was an anole soaking up a tiny sunbeam that somehow made its way through the leaf canopy. He was way up on the main trunk of the oak tree. I always thought of anoles as living close to the soil but I guess they are arboreal when it suits them. We have a lot of reptiles here including tiny iridescent blind snakes, pink geckos, skinks and spiny lizards with skin that looks like the scales of pecan bark.
The reptiles are much more cautious than the birds. Do you remember when people used to talk about reptilian brains? It is not hard to imagine where the idea came from. Lizards don’t get startled, they completely panic. I saw one poor thing fling itself repeatedly onto a fence post in a desperate attempt to flee even when I clearly posed no imminent threat. You just can’t reason with or soothe a stressed out lizard. They just have to work their way through the adrenaline. I can relate. I had a panic attack once and I will never forget the experience.
The Blue Jay
is a new addition. Blargh blargh blargh. He always trumpets a warning or maybe a fanfare before he approaches. I am not sure who he is talking to other than the world at large.
Grackles and Potato Salad
This is a baby grackle wiping his beak on tree bark. He helped himself to some store bought potato salad my son didn’t want when we were having a picnic outside. I guess having an oily sticky beak feels worse than unpleasant. Next time I will make my own salad. Bad enough to get a two thumbs down rating from humans but when even the grackles are disgusted you know something is terribly wrong. Dumpster-diving grackles aren’t usually terribly choosy eaters.
And so much more
But I will stop before this turns into a boring catalogue.
If you haven’t done so already, I hope you can join in Tina’s monthly Wildlife Wednesday meme. Check out My Gardener Says for details.