September 24, 2015
Suddenly it’s September. Sounds at night have transitioned from peepers and robins to cicadas and crickets. During the day the trees are loud with flocks of black bird’s crys. The Praying Mantises are huge. Monarchs have been hatching for more than a month. There are chrysalis and caterpillars everywhere. Including some very odd places, like up under a roof eve, on a box on the porch and in the Chinese Chesnut tree. The rose breasted grosbeaks disappeared from the feeders about a month ago. The orioles came back to drink from the hummingbird feeder and emptied it daily for a week or so, mostly because the liquid slopped out when the birds flew off. They quit about three weeks ago, so I imagine they migrated. The male hummingbird that defended the feeder is gone and there were still immatures out there yesterday.
I found a Dekay’s snake this year, about 10 inches long. We have treefrogs on the windows at night, one very large one and a couple of teeny ones. They still sing when it rains. Toads on the driveway at night, big and small, lots this year, along with the treefrogs, who I’d find in different spots and different colors depending on the spot. Green when on plants, grayish on the white barn and brown in pots. Chameleons. It was very wet in June, the pond overflowed 3 times but July and August were normal so the vernal pools were dry by August. Didn’t have to water them as I did a couple of years. I hated watching them dry up with a second batch of tadpoles helplessly losing water.
I quit putting suet out because the starlings devoured it, I put up another sunflower feeder. I still get some wood peckers but as often as before. Maybe later in the late Fall I’ll put the suet feeder back up. I still carried the feeders in at night because the raccoons didn’t let up pulling them down. I’d bring them out around dawn and then go back to bed. But, for about a week now, I left them out and they’ve not been touched. I have a thistle feeder, hummingbird feeder, sunflower feeder and a little water tray hanging from same tree. Today I counted over 20 gold finches and about 5 purple finches. They make a lot of noise and I leave the windows open as much as possible to hear it. I see a couple of skunks at night under the feeders. We have big one that has quite a bit of white on it, very little black. And a young one with normal markings, it is so cute and makes a very different noise, a tiny cry, when it’s scared.
The stars are so bright at night. I saw a couple of falling stars, they are magical, like Angel signs and always make me smile.

June 6
This entry won’t be in order since I haven’t written anything for a while and I had a lot to say about the spring we had. I felt it was spring when I heard the robin’s first dusk call (April 1). They are so loud and beautiful. Also that evening I heard the phoebe and the day before watched a bluebird mark off its box by literally fight off a group of house sparrows. I know it’s nesting in that box because I went by with a cat and it showed up making angry noises.
I can see it from my window. There is a birch tree out there and a few minutes ago, two rose-breasted grosbeaks, male and female landed on the tree. Last year I spotted a blue-gray gnat catcher there which I saw later in a mulberry tree outside The Sanctuary. Two days ago, at 5:30 am, I saw a couple of cedar waxwings on that same tree.
Back upstairs from having lunch. While filling a glass of water I saw a cedar waxwing on the service-berry bush outside the kitchen window. I can’t imagine how they find those berries. Just now I saw a female oriole on the suet; we have a female cat-bird that comes every day to the suet, along with thrashers, hairy, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, nuthatches, blue jays and starlings, of course. A red bellied woodpecker likes the oranges I put out there, he devours them. The orioles sip at the hummingbird feeder, along with hummers, who fight each other. On the same tree there’s a thistle feeder with house finches and gold finches. The bright lemon yellow of the gold finches also means spring.
The problem with having those feeders on the tree is the raccoons. Last night I put the suet feeders away but those buggers ripped off the hummingbird feeder and the thistle feeder. So, I go back to the necessity of putting all of them away. Also last night, I heard a noise on the kitchen side roof, then a scramble and a thump. Looked out and saw a raccoon kit through the window. They’re literally all over the place. Isn’t it thrilling? Ha.
About two weeks ago we had a lot of rain, and I found three tree frogs on that same window.
Fragrances carry far. The Privet is blooming now and you can smell it from 100 yards away. Multiflora roses may be invasive, but they have a most bewitching odor.

 The Sanctuary at Wild Rose Acres, a lovely retreat in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is situated on an old horse farm, in a beautiful rural setting, with gardens, brook, pond, trees, and fields.

Create your own “Fortress of Solitude”.  If you are looking for a secluded, private place to be, a serene haven, in a tranquil setting, where you can write, read, paint, create anything, even peace, maybe this is the sanctuary you’ve been seeking.  Treat yourself and relax in a spacious, luxurious room with lovely pastoral views of pond, garden and fields.

Stroll around the lawns and fields, linger by the brook, under a tree, by the pond.

 

Lots of light and beauty!

Wildlife Notes and Other Ramblings

 

 

 

 

March 20, 2015

Today is the First Day of Spring. On March 1st, there was about 10 inches of snow on the ground. I made a nice  sliding track down to the pond. Hard  work, pulling myself through the snow by hand. Takes about 3 times before the snow is packed  enough. I stopped after that because the snow was so deep at the pond, the sled stopped. No fun. The next days were  warmer, with melting and freezing rain. A nice layer of ice had formed on the track. I went down just after dark. The moon was almost full, over the pond with a very bright star to its lower left. The ride was  fast, scary fast, and I couldn’t help but whoop with surprise. Only went down once. That was enough.  The rain and melt down continued.  The snow layer disappeared on the pond,  leaving behind a lovely, slick surface. We went sledding on the fifth, and slid clear across the pond. Terrific! Though the track wasn’t scary fast, it was fast and fun. The best part is that it’s a short hike to the top of the hill. Short and sweet.

The Juncos are still here, though the Robins,  Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds and Buzzards are back.  We had  a flicker that came and ate from the feeder for the first time this winter. Only saw the Towhee a few times. Last year, as soon as the ground was snow covered, we would have a couple of Towhees come in consistently.

The Chorus frogs and  Peepers started their songs on March 17th. Winter Aconite is blooming and also  the snowdrops. The Lenten rose got pretty beat up by snow mixed with chainsaw droppings plowed on to it. So, no blooms yet.

This past fall I spotted a red fox on the property and my neighbor saw a gray fox down the street. This is good news because we have had so many coyotes here I thought the foxes would never come back. Two years  ago we had a coyote den on the other side of the pond. I was hauling weeds from the garden  and  saw 5 pups playing on the lawn. I had seen the mother, briefly, a few days before. She was huge and red, thought she was a deer but she trotted like a dog. Later that summer I spotted the male, a huge black. When I say huge, I mean it. They were bigger than  German  Shepherds. The neighbors to the north confirmed the coyote’s existence, as they would watch them trot down their field lane. There was quite a bit of brush running along the stream bank that they could use as a travel route and a nice little ground hog hill they could den. So, the hill was pushed down  and the brush cleared. Haven’t seen  them or heard them for a while.

Update on birds. Last year and the year before I saw we had a Blue-gray Gnat Catcher flitting around, and  also an Indigo Bunting. Last year we had daily appearances of  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, including an adult male, female and immature  Grosbeaks.

 

 

September 30, 2014                                              Today I took photographs of a  tree frog on the Rootbeer plant outside Mom’s bedroom window.  Yesterday there was a huge Preying (Praying?) Mantis on the same plant. The Rootbeer plant is tropical but it surivives the winter here because its roots are up against the south foundation. It had a hard time last winter and is only half its size. Normally it reaches a height of about 10 feet and extends out into the flower bed. Not so this year.  It’s 83 degrees F outside and  we haven’t had rain for the about 3 weeks. The warm weather is good for the Monarch larvae and chrysalis. We have plenty of them. I let the milkweed  plants grow wherever they wanted to, we have quite a few. The Monarch butterfly will only lay eggs on milkweed, which the larvae feed on. One day last week I counted 19 larvae in 3 different areas and 5 chrysalis. Seems to be a new butterfly every day, so I know I’m not including all of them. Some chrysalis are in easy viewing spots, I try to catch the transitions while they are occurring but the timing  is  always off a little.

May 1, 2012

I’ve just brought the horses in, a thunderstorm is approaching.  As I sit here, at my desk by the window, I can hear tree frogs and peepers in the background.  At dusk, the toads will begin their lovely trilling.  I haven’t checked the vernal pools yet this week, but I’ve been watching wood frog tadpoles and other tadpoles develop, and also yellow-spotted salamanders.  The salamanders are just teeny things, still in clusters of green balls.  Though we were for weeks without rain, there has been enough coming in lately that they’ll make it to maturity.

Flowers and Trees

There are four late deep pink tulips still lingering.  We still have fragrant late season white daffodils or are they narcissus, blooming.  All the spring flowers, crocus, hyacinth, anemone, daffodils etc. were about a month early this year. Winter aconite and Lenten rose are always early.  The crab apples and peach trees were gorgeous.  The iris, columbine and lilacs are coming on.  We’ve had the mail ordered tomatoes, peppers and some little perennials, already arrived and waiting on the drive.

Birds

I can see and hear the goldfinches, as they sit in the birch tree by the finch feeder.  I heard a yellow throat the other day and a towhee and saw two thrashers on the ground by the main feeder.  The yellow-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers have been coming in sporadically to the suet, I haven’t seen the red headed yet, or the pileated, which never comes to the feeder, but sometimes to the walnut tree by the pond.  Yesterday morning and today I saw a Killdeer and her single chick out by the manure pile, she would cry out her alarm and fake injury, as her little baby looking like a tiny adult, ignored her, and didn’t hide, though it did last evening, couldn’t see it anyway.

Pond Tales

About a month ago I spotted a mink galloping around the pond, disappearing every once in a while.  I think it was raiding muskrat holes, because I found a dead one on the pond bank.  I’ve seen the three giant Koi a lot this year, they come to the surface and skim it a little, one gold one even breeched when Neighbor Ted was putting up a second duck box.  That was something, it was very windy and the tree was swaying and he was screwing in the heavy box on the pond side while precariously balanced at the top of the ladder on the land side.  That was wild.

We had a lot of migrating ducks pass through, ring-necked, green winged teal, even a coot.  A grebe hung around for a few weeks, I wish he’d stay longer.  We have wood ducks flying in and out, never seem to linger long.  Had a pair of geese, she was on her nest long enough for her brood to hatch, and I hope they did.  She usually disappears with them, and the next time we see them, they aren’t goslings but little geese.  I hope that’s what happened this year.

The coolest thing is that for the first time we have a hooded merganser nesting in the duck box.  She’d lay an egg at a time, with the male circling below the box, then they’d both leave.  She came back for good April 5th.  The male came back for a visit a couple of times, she’d come out of the box for a few minutes then go back in.  This past week I noticed her leaving or returning early morning around 8:30 A.M.  Her ducklings should be hatching any day, I hope we don’t miss it.  In the past, the wood duck ducklings would drop out of the box and the mother would take them off the pond somewhere.