Changes Along the River …

The cold front moved through followed by several days of rain. The river has risen so much in the last three days, instead of rapids followed by pools of still water, the river has turned into one giant rapid. The path along the river that leads me to my favorite place to sit and enjoy the Mink, Great Horned Owl, and Belted Kingfishers is under water as of yesterday. I was kind of sad when I first walked down to the waters edge … but I eagerly await it’s return next spring.

Several sightings of Fall Chinook were spotted last week before the rains came. I thought I may of seen one swimming near the bridge but I can’t confirm it. It might have been just my eagerness to see one 🙂

The two Night Heron are hanging out in the trees between my house and the river. I haven’t seen them even get close to the water since the rains began.  With the water moving so fast even the ducks and Great Blue Herons have been unseen. It is kind of eerie but I know they will return. Flocks of ducks have been flying over the river daily but none are stopping.

On Monday my neighbor brought me some freshly picked apples from Davis Orchards, one word is all that is needed “Delicious”. So sweet and fresh and no sign of pesticides. I still have four more left  🙂    

Monday I got to the east end of the river a little later than usual and thought there would be no way of catching sight of the Great Horned Owl but I thought I would give it a try. I lifted my binoculars just in time to see it fly from the south bank over to the north bank. “Thank You Lord”.

I really am thinking that the black goat is pregnant. She is bigger than she was when I last wrote about her. She wasn’t out in the pasture this morning. Maybe she will bring a baby out with her when I see her next 🙂

Yesterday I was walking towards home and Zachary, the eight year old boy I told you about was walking to school. He  saw me and yelled to me from about a block away. “Hi, Ani … did you see anything today?”   I got to tell him that I had watched a two point buck up on the ridge of the hill earlier in the morning.

The rains have turned the hillsides from summer brown into winter green … it really is refreshing and pretty to see.

I was standing across from the otter den and was kind of meloncholy at how quite it was when a Belted King Fisher flew up into a tree and began chattering away as if to say “I am here, I will entertain you”. I just love those little birds.

Things are definitely changing along the river … I am excited to watch the changes and to see what winter is going to bring. Yesterday I discovered a possible den in a  berry thicket across the river. I can see where birds have been coming and going, probably wrens but over on the east side down by the ground there looks to be a den. I will update you when I see something. There are signs that some creature has been coming and going  🙂

The herd of six does were laying down in the willow patch as the sun was coming up yesterday. I caught a glimpse of a solitary doe this morning over across from the overlook. I have seen her alone three times this week. 

Just as I was about to leave the path along the river this morning and head down the embankment to my house, Logan flushed out two female Ring Necked Pheasants. They flew across the river and landed just south of the fox den. 

Last week I got to finally burn the debris that was on the burn pile, I have been waiting for the ashes to cool. I am going out now to rake some of the ashes over into my garden plot and cover them with leaves. The leaves that were on the plot all got blown away in last weeks wind storm.

Until next time …

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Autumn Migration … Storms … and the Rut

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted … Autumn has set in showcasing vivid yellows, oranges, and browns, cold frosty mornings, and lots of wind.

The song birds have all flown south but I have seen Mountain Chickadees twice this week. The White Fronted Goose that migrated through has gone. He stayed for almost 2 weeks living with a small flock of Mallards. We had 4 flocks of Common Mergansers on the river for about three weeks but I haven’t seen them for a few days. Four juvenile Eared Grebes have taken the Mergansers place on the river. They are extremely shy, flying off the moment they spot me watching them.

The Osprey that was migrating through has left after staying for two weeks. I at first thought that he might be injured but on the third day he flew down the river in full glory. It was as if he was personally saying to me “look, I am doing just great”. He did that three mornings in a row 🙂

I was down on the river last Monday when I heard the male Eurasian Collared Dove calling out. He has never done that before so I went to see what was up. I looked into the tree and there he was with two (yes two) females in the nest. He was cooing and rubbing his chest against one of them, he then rubbed his beak on hers before flying off and over to the fence post out in the nearby pasture. The next morning a huge wind storm blew through removing every leaf from the tree and exposing the empty nest to the elements. I have not seen any doves … Eurasian, Rock, or Mourning, since that horrific storm.

For a few days prior to the storm there were knats everywhere. Each time I came in from my walks my white hair would be filled with little green bugs. I laughed a few times, what was I to do 🙂

The day before I was watching two otters playing in the river when I heard a helicopter approaching from the north, the otters heard it too. They looked up at the chopper as it flew up from behind the hill and out over the river. They darted quickly into the river bank. I felt said for them because I had just witnessed fear on their sweet little faces. Life Flight continued on towards the hospital and I waited for the otters to come back out into the river. They didn’t disappoint, they were as feisty as ever. As I was watching them play I saw a swift current moving towards the south bank. I focused in with my binoculars and watched a large gopher snake swimming across the river.

After the snake disappeared into the shore line I saw a Belted Kingfisher dive into the river, catch a fish, and fly back up into a tree. I then watched him as he beat that little silver fish to death against the branch of the tree. Once the fish gave up it’s little life the bird enjoyed his breakfast.

A flock of Yellow Rumped Warblers came through the day after the storm. I had never seen them up close because they are such flighty little birds. But on Wednesday morning God blessed me with one that sat still long enough for me to enjoy it’s beauty.

Thursday afternoon just before dinner I went for a walk and there on the river bank were the two foxes. I knew it, I just knew that I had been watching two separate foxes but couldn’t be totally sure until then. There they were together on the river bank enjoying a drink of water from the river 🙂

Deer season is over and all three bucks have survived, one of the fawns from earlier this year has grown his first set of spiked antlers, bringing it to four bucks. Tuesday morning just as day was breaking I saw the big 4 point running slowly along the hill above the fox den. Yesterday I saw the 3 point chasing two does along the same ridge. The does wouldn’t give him the time of day 🙂 and then this morning, there he was again. As he approached the herd of six does the does would move to the east keeping a safe distance. He then lowered his head so that it was even with his shoulders and he began to run around the does trying to pull them in close to him. He then lifted his tail high into the air and trotted through the middle of the does. Again, they wanted no part of him. He tried it again, running them into a tight circle and then running up into the middle. The does all ran off that time with him following close behind 🙂 If I were those does I would wait for the big 4 point, he is such a majestic buck. Mating season is set to start in mid November maybe I will get to see the 3 point take on the 4 point for his chance at the does.

Leaving there I walked east to where I sit on the river bank to take in the early morning. I looked over towards the bridge as I always do just in time to see the Great Horned Owl flying low across the water and landing on the bank where I first saw him a few weeks ago. He stayed for about a minute and then flew back across the river and up into the trees.

Thank you Lord for an amazing and eventful week along the river …

Brrrr … Youth… Pioneer Park, and My Garden

Still in the 20’s and low 30’s the last few mornings, makes for quick steps and hands in my pockets except for quick glances with my binoculars. My head has been toasty warm since Amy crocheted me my hat. I say a silent “thank you” each morning when I walk out the back door for my morning walk.

The river has been quite the last two mornings … I am still seeing birds just no action. The dove is still sitting on her nest, I say a little prayer for her as I walk by that she is warm enough and fell fed. 

Still no sign of the missing goose, maybe they are fatting it up for the holidays. I know, gross but goose is quite tasty 🙂    On the same little farm are three goats, I am beginning to think that the black one is pregnant, her belly is beginning to hang differently, I will keep you posted.

I got an email yesterday from one of my friends at the refuge where I volunteered until I moved here. The Canadian Cacklers are beginning to fly in and the Bald Eagles have returned. She didn’t mention the Pintails but I know that they are there, they always arrive just before the Eagles return. I sure miss the refuge but our dear Lord has so Blessed me with this river and town.

Last night at sunset I walked over to the otter den to see if they were out, they weren’t. There was a young boy of maybe 8 years,walking along the levi as I was watching a Night Heron. I told him all about the last few days of watching them and he ran home and got some binoculars. He looked out at the one sitting along the river bank. I had a smile in my heart  to see his excitement 🙂

I pointed to a white object across the river, he looked … it was a 42 oz fountain cup from a convenience store in town. I asked him if he ever throws garbage along the river. His response was quick and maybe filled with a touch of guilt. I pointed out another cup, I asked him if he liked seeing them? His answer was “no”.   I then told him that we have to see them now because someone was careless and threw their waste into the river I could see the light bulb go off in his little head. I then smiled and told him that I hoped that he would come out again soon to see what is going on out on the river. He smiled and said that he would be back.

Sad news … there is a beautiful little park in the NE side of town called Pioneer Park. It has a great play structure built of cedar and resembling the old west. They have lots of climbing structures, a wooden boat, swings, the whole nine yards. Across the street is the “Buckin’ Bean” where I meet the ladies for coffee on Monday mornings. Well, late last night someone deliberately started a fire under one of the slides and the children have lost over half of their park. 

I walked across town this morning to take a look, it was so sad to see such a beautiful, well built play area reduced to blackened ashes and puddles of water from the fire rescue. 

I have finally finished adding soil to next years garden. I have been carrying 5 gallon buckets of soil and dumping them on my freshly tilled garden plot. My back is aching a bit as I type but the rewards will come next summer 🙂 I went into the front yard and gathered leaves from a maple tree that is shedding upon the yard. I have sprinkled them around the garden as a winter blanket. There were enough leaves to cover maybe half of the plot, plenty more leaves yet to fall.

I pulled up the tomato plant that sprung up in the front walkway in August. It provided me with delicious Cherry tomatoes for two months but now that the cold is settling in the plant is beginning to die back. My two pretty rose bushes are looking weak now too.

Turning the page to a new Season …

A Fox, A Ring Neck, and Fresh Eggs …

24 degrees this morning, I wore the hat that Amy crocheted for me, it kept my head toasty warm 🙂

I didn’t see much this morning until just east of the otter den. I was actually looking out for a sighting of the otters when out of the thicket walks a fox. It walked down to the rivers edge and stood there for about a minute before jumping onto a boulder and up another nearby trail. I kept watching and sure enough out it comes again and back down to the river. It took a brief drink of river water before walking a little further east to sit in the morning sunshine. It was now directly across the river from me and I could see it’s white chest and fluffy white tipped tail. A noise came from somewhere behind me, the fox turned toward the sound but didn’t retreat. After a bit of sunning it walked up the trail again continuing it’s walk toward the east disappearing into another thicket.

I stood watching for movement in the grasses and scrubs … nothing … until a warning call of a pheasant. I got excited, something was about to happen. Still no movement, but another warning call, and then another. Suddenly the fox jumps out of the thicket out into the clearing as a male Ring Necked Pheasant takes flight and lands mid way up into a tree along the river. 

I waited for quite a while without any sighting of the fox and the Pheasant wasn’t coming down from out of the tree so I headed home.

After warming my hands and feet I sat down for a breakfast of tasty thin cut crispy bacon, Dave’s Killer Bread for toast, and two fresh eggs that a woman at church gave me from her chickens. The yolks were almost orange and one had a double yolk. I enjoyed every bite as I was praising God for a glorious morning.

 

Autumn Upon the River …

What a week it has been along the river … twice I have followed a group of does along the ridge in the early morning light, the first time there were six of them, yesterday there were seven. Every once in a while the lead female would look out at me from the ridge and watch me with her ears turned right towards me. I was close enough to enjoy their beauty yet far enough away not to intimidate her.

Earlier in the week I got to watch the two young bucks that I have been following since late July. The velvet has recently shed from their antlers leaving them shiny and new. They began to scratch their antlers on a young tree until the tree actually fell over. Then the youngest decided it was time to play with his oldest sibling, they locked antlers and began to tug and twist. When the oldest got tired he gently flipped his brother over onto his side. Dad was no where to be seen. Hunting season was to start the next day I truly pray that he had a safe place to go. He is large with 4 points, a hunters dream. Most people around here only see 3 point bucks.

Yesterday morning it was in the low 60’s an absolutely beautiful Fall morning. As I was walking east along the river I heard a loud scream from a Heron. I quickly walked over, actually it was a fast trot 🙂    I arrived in time to see two Night Herons leaving the side of a Great Blue Heron. I didn’t see what the fuss was about but the loud screams were intense.

There is a goose missing from the group of seven that live on the farm at the end of the levi. I looked around, no feathers laying around. I am curious about it’s where abouts.

The Eurasian Dove is still sitting on her nest, the leaves are beginning to turn colors. I’m not so sure if this is going to work out for her.

This morning it was in the low 30’s, oh I am not used to this. I arrived at the same place along the river just in time to see the two Night Heron each standing on a rock on my side of the river as the Great Blue stood in the water across from them. The Great Blue reached into the water and brought up a nice fish and within a few seconds swallowed it down. About a minute later it reached into the water and as it’s head was down one of the Night Herons flew over and tried to take the fish from it as it raised it’s head out from the water. The Great Blue let out a loud scream and holding the rather large fish still flapping around in it’s bill took flight and flew down the river letting out several more screams as it flew.

Three groups of Common Mergansers were swimming in different spots along the river. Just west of the old bridge was a beaver swimming upstream pulling along side it a willow branch. It ducked into it’s den where the creek meets the river.

The male Dove flew out as I walked by and sat in a nearby tree. I took it as a “Good Morning”.

Walking home was pretty uneventful until I got to the Otters den. I arrived just as they were coming out of their den for breakfast. I was close enough to see their big white teeth tearing into the fish that they were catching. Orange and red leaves were falling all around them as they fished. After each of the five otters had had enough to eat they began swimming and chasing each other up and down the river bank and across the river. I was wearing fingerless gloves and my fingertips kept getting colder and colder but I didn’t want to miss any of the fun. Finally the cold won out and I came home.

As I was standing in front of the warm heater warming up my hands my sweet neighbor came over with a stocking hat that she had just crocheted for me. I love it, I can hardly wait for tomorrow. She went home after a short visit to crochet me a pair of gloves, I can hardly wait. 

After she left I went into the kitchen to cook some Steel Cut Oats for breakfast, I couldn’t resist, I walked over to the table  picked up my hat and put it on my head. I kept it on during my meal and well after the dishes were done.