Monday: My day started by sitting in my favorite lawn chair at sunup. This chair is my favorite because it is only ten feet from a birdfeeder—a great place to be as day breaks. I had just sat down when I heard the sweet whistle of a Baltimore Oriole. There is no better word to describe how beautiful the color orange can be, than Oriole. He is truly remarkable as he flies through the lush green leaves, his bright orange breast clashing so beautifully with the new green foliage.
I may spend half an hour each day sitting in the chair, and the birds no longer fear me, which is a very satisfying feeling. It's not magic that brings them close; it's just good old-fashioned trust. In just a few minutes there were ten different kinds of birds landing ten feet away from me.
It may take a little while, but most anyone can enjoy the birds at the feeder that way. All you need is a little time and some patience, and you can see your favorite summer birds close up and very much alive.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are notorious for flying right up next to people. I've really enjoyed sitting close to them as they hum around the Virginia bluebells. I see their ruby-red throats and a blur of the tiny wings that make their little humming music.
In the apple tree, a group of white blossoms offer the promise of apples next fall. An early morning walk through the dew-covered grass in the meadow caught the attention of the local Red-tailed hawk. He flew from his high perch and soared over my head several times. He gave out this high-pitched, raspy cry, letting me know that his mate is on their nest in a nearby oak tree. He sees me every day, and knows I'm not a threat to them, but he will defend his territory and lets me know, vocally.
I pass by a well-used woodchuck hole. The dirt at the entrance was packed down and a couple of flies buzzed around the entrance. I wondered if Woody was taking a nap down there. The yellow rocket along the stream is blooming with deep yellow flowers. It's very pretty, but is aggressive at times, and may compete with the native plants. My jeans are soaked halfway to my knees as I walk the edge of the woods. It's worth it just to see the first orange/yellow flower of a Columbine. Not far away, and poking up three inches above the dead leaves, I spot a single morel mushroom. Just as I'm thinking how pretty a scene it was, the song of a Wood thrush drifts through the woods. Perfect!
Further up the valley, I come across a nice bed of blue Prairie phlox next to a double row of 20-foot pine trees. The pines have been there for ten years. The spot where they stand used to host an even larger bed of Prairie phlox that may have been there for centuries.
Walking down between the rows of pines, I came across what looked like an oblong piece of gray lint about the size of my thumb. It was an owl pellet. Also called a "casting," it's a compact ball of fur and bones from small animals that the owl has caught and eaten. All of the nutritious material is withdrawn and the rest is compacted in the owl's stomach, and then regurgitated out onto the ground. Pellets are clean and safe to handle, so I dismantled this one, separating the bones and fur to determine that the owl had eaten two field voles.
A small, dark butterfly fluttered in the early morning sun and lit on the ground next to me. A pine-skipper, I think.
At the spot where the path widens, I found the Spring beauty and the yellow violets—and, not to be missed, some handsome Jack-in-the-Pulpits.
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