What an absolutely delightful season it has been here on my own little nature preserve. Even though the weather has been very difficult, what with super high temperatures and humidity most of the time, still all of the natural world has thrived as usual. We have been privileged to host so many of our wild neighbors and their offspring. And each one has been a joy, each in their own special way.
It always amazes me how trusting the animals become over the course of time. The deer no longer back off and hide when we fill the corn pan or do ANY other chores around the property for that matter. I have been close enough to reach out and touch them on many occasions but would never want to abuse their trust. And where once the mother deer were very protective of their fawns when we appeared, now they merely glance up and go back to munching away. I am happy to report they continue to be regulars here, noshing on the cracked corn, goose feed and bountiful crab apples from the tree off the kitchen porch. The various water containers and large kiddie wading pool have made it a little easier for ALL the animals to find water during the intense heat and dryness of this Summer too.
One of my favorite pastimes is to watch all the wild turkey heads bobbing up and down comically in the tall grasses, heading for the bird seeds beneath the feeder and more recently, actually eating out of the large cracked corn pan that once intimidated them so. Many a mealtime have we shared with these beautiful birds eating right on the other side of the screen, as we also sat enjoying our meal. Some of them will even talk back to me as I imitate their feeding call. It's as if I am a part of the flock. Now what kind of honor is that? I have been gifted with many of their feathers throughout the season, both large ones and small, strewn about the back 'yard' from their vigorous preening sessions. They now stand in a place of honor in a vase in the library, a tribute to the months we have spent most pleasantly in each others company.
Since the bear incident, when he ripped the sunflower feeder out of the ground to better reach all the goodies inside, our resident raccoon family has only made occasional visits to the goose feeder. I AM glad that they remember how to survive without it! Together with the two fox kits harassing them, I can understand how that big old bear must have been the last straw for mom. I am happy to report there are still four young ones and mom, so the little family is still intact, with no casualties. And yet, even though they were literally eating us out of house and home, I do miss them. They were most entertaining and the little chortling sounds they made filled my heart with joy!!
The wild birds and all their offspring have positively exploded at the feeders! At times all the chatter is deafening! Fights are always breaking out over space at the feeders and suet. We have been 'blessed' (and I use the term loosely) with SO MANY blue jays this year that all the various woodpeckers are finding it hard to get a turn at the suet cake. But they all go through an entire cake a day ($$), so they will just have to sort it out amongst themselves, and make due. I love to see the immature males of all the various species as they are starting to come into their adult plumage. How comical they look, like little Frankensteins, with their mismatched parts and blotchy coloring.
The chipmunks are busy storing away seeds for the Winter. Sometimes we watch them pouch up so full we wonder how they can walk away under the load let alone make it down their burrow holes! They are so adorable! AND rather fearless too, as they are SO SMALL compared to the turkeys that loom above them, or even their much bigger relations, the squirrels! And yet they stand there underneath these giants; most amazing!!! You would think they would be afraid of being trampled underfoot if nothing else!
And all the bunnies are busy being bunnies. They are having a very prolific season! There are usually a few about out back taking dust baths and cooling their bellies in the shady spots. It's so funny the way they just jump and flop, flattening themselves like little bunny pancakes! It makes us crack up every single time!!
We still hear coyotes off in the distance every now and then, but luckily they haven't ventured close enough to make a meal out of any of my geese! I do love to hear them howling away in the darkness though! Such a wild and haunting sound! If they continue to keep their distance, all will be well!
Two baby skunks have suddenly appeared out of nowhere, noshing bird seed under the feeder. They sent us scurrying inside one night, marching right up to the feeder to eat while we sat just a few feet away enjoying a fire and toasting giant marshmallows. Even though they didn't seem to mind us in the very least, those little tails were at half mast menacingly, and we were just too nervous, starring up those tails waiting for them to fire away. And I am not at all certain they have developed discrimination yet at their early age! I was reminded of the two little ones a few years back that met under the same feeder every night, and sat noshing back to back with their tails held up high, as if each daring the other to make a wrong move. It was quite hysterical!!! But neither Frank nor I had any intention of tempting fate that night and WE left with OUR TAILS between our legs!
So, as you can readily see, all is well here on my very own little nature preserve. And as this season slowly continues to wind down, I am reminded to savor every moment among these my special friends and neighbors, before all the young ones begin to disperse, each to seek his/her own territory and begin life as an adult.