Friday, October 20, 2017


Another zealous apple picker

Good thing it's dark at 5:30 in the morning or they might come for me with a net.

Because I was out in the driveway with a flashlight at that hour this morning, using my doggie-kennel-super-duper-scooper to roll apples down the hill.

It took quite a while

And why, you may ask, was I rolling apples down the hill?

Well, that old Winesap of Grandma Peggy's, which sometimes I think of as being more of a Whinesap...or maybe I'm the sap and also whiny....had a bumper crop of apples this summer.

Quite literally. It stands next to the walkway to the dogs' runs, the wood stove, the pony and horse yards, and several gardens. 

And it is a menace. Guess it got Liz once and I've had a couple of near misses. The apples fall so hard they split every time. Whack! Whap! Crack! That'll wake you up...

Then yesterday afternoon when I was walking Mack up for his afternoon constitutional, he screamed and began racing around on three legs, frantically looking at his nether regions. It took a lot of petting and cuddling to calm him down.

Alas, horses are not the only ones that like apples. The Yellow Jackets and assorted other stinging nuisances love them too. 

Poor Mack. Being a Jack Russell Terrier, he was soon running around as if nothing had happened, but he sat down in a very dainty manner the rest of the day.

You can't rake wasp infested apples in daylight so.....

Call me eccentric, but don't call the authorities. This all makes sense when you're me. Thanks.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Drama on the High Seas

Snidely Whiplash

Or the tranquil river, as the case may be.

We had fifteen minutes to burn before picking up Becky at work, so we went down to the Schoharie Crossing SHS boat launch to look around. I walked off by myself a ways and saw a thing sleeping on the riverbank.

It was about the size of a Mallard, but it just....wasn't.....

If I didn't know better I'd have sworn that it was a Brant

Nell...AKA Branta bernicla

While not exactly rare, spotting a Brant is only a sometimes experience. I took a lot of pictures of the bankside lump and looked around some more....ooh, two sandpipers. I thought they were Greater Yellowlegs, although they were far away and didn't look or act quite right. (I was delighted later to discover that I was wrong.)


I snapped pics of them and went back to the boss. Fifteen minutes and all you know.

Suddenly from the east came a Bald Eagle sailing low over the trees.

He spotted the lump.

Snidely attempting to invite Sweet Nell to dinner...his dinner....

And wham, down he came. Up went the sandpipers, but the Brant just swam, right up in front of us.

It was something to see. The eagle strafed the water, the little goose dove and dodged. The sandpipers were long gone.

Eventually the eagle gave up and sailed away. The goose just kept on swimming.

Even the boss was excited and told some fellows who stopped at the next picnic table for lunch all about it.

And the second best part of it....the sandpipers turned out to be Pectorals, lifers for me and new for my county list. 

What a great 18 minutes...yeah, we stayed a little longer than we planned. Becky didn't mind a bit.

Curses, foiled again!

Watch your Step

Lots of birding by ear today
So foggy a cottontail I startled jumped right on a bird that was feeding in the road
What a kerfluffle!
Oh, look, a Carolina Wren!
Sun's up!
Not as foggy up here on the hill
Hear all those Robins? There must be 30 of them!

What a year for Yellow-rumped Warblers

The trees are full of them and they love to hunt bugs on the buildings.
Birders have nicknamed them "Butterbutts"
Home again, home again

But watch your step

No Questions Asked

Insert stern expression and beady-eyed glare here

If whoever took my blue hay fork puts it back by the porch.

Then I can clean up the garden. 

***This has been a public service announcement by the Bureau of Tool Management, Mean Old Lady Department.

***Thank you for your attention to this detail.

Still more beady-eyed glare if needed....

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

First Frost

All is calm; stars are bright.

Not a cricket is stirring, but I did hear a mouse.

And Orion is prowling and waiting to pounce.

We went down to the boat launch at sunset last night and saw an amazing number of birds. I turned in a count of 1500 Red-winged Blackbirds, but I suspect the flock was more like 3000. Video shows just a tiny fraction of them, but I wanted you to hear them.

Couple hundred Canada Geese. Skein upon skein dumping air and tumbling onto the river. Layered flocks heading for the cornfields. Strays and small vees honking frantically for family. Geese everywhere around us.....hundreds more probably than we counted. One Common Merganser. Numbers were increasing as the light went dim, but we needed to get home so I could fix supper, we could bring the dogs in, and pick the last bouquet of nasturtiums of the year to grace the kitchen.....while their counterparts melted like clay left out in the rain.

Welcome to true autumn.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sounds of Silence


Wind gives cottonwood its voice.

From the first coin-sized silver-green leaves in the spring to the giant yellow circles of autumn, it keeps it talking all year long. Muttering under its breath at a slow summer updraft that offers just a taste of relief from the heat.

Chattering with delight as a cool stiff wind hustles by.

Clattering and jangling with the sprightly drafts of fall.

Cottonwoods are talkative, companionable trees that report the weather as faithfully as any stuffed suit in a studio and prettier by far. Sometimes they startle me as I skulk below, rattling into discourse as suddenly as thunder. 

But wind taketh away what it has given in all the warm months. 

Reaching into cottonwood clusters it rips away all song. It leaves only a whistle through the branches and crunching underfoot as the leaves go crisp and shatter.

And then the first cold rain of fall dampens even that music and winter is hard upon us. 

I see evidence that this coyote has been stomping grapes
for wine to warm his winter hearth.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Herps

Eastern Painted Turtle. We saw dozens of unusually big ones, later in the day, at Franklington Vlaie

Bull Frog...he was a biggun too


We hadn't been to Yankee Hill Lock since early summer. Too many bad experiences with creepy, threatening people. However yesterday there was no one there but us, the river, some herptiles and a very few birds.

We did not mind the dearth of birds, since the reflections on the water kept us busy with the cameras. Becky has acquired lenses for her phone and gets some amazing stuff!