Nature Notes Feed

A Nutty Little Nature Story

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I was wishing I still had my "nature notes" column up, because Earlybird and I observed the funniest little nature "story" yesterday!

It was a lovely afternoon, golden and breezy - and we were sitting in the learning room, with a couple of windows cracked open. EB was at the computer, and I was reading in my chair, when the sound of rustling leaves caught my attention. I thought it might be an animal of some sort walking by, but every time I looked outside I saw nothing. I did notice some rambunctious blue jays hopping around, so I dismissed the "ruckus" at that.

But, next thing I know, I start hearing little "pops" and "bangs" on the roof and windows. Now I'm kind of freaking out because I truly can't figure out what is making all this noise! I'm thinking perhaps some early Halloween "tricks" were being played on us!

Finally I figured I'd best take a closer look ... so I walked out front and when I looked back at the house I immediately noticed a flurry of movement at the top of the HUGE spruce tree that stands beside our house. The branches were swaying like crazy!

Glinting in the sun, and weaving in and out of the branches, was a bright ball of reddish-brown fur, and a closer inspection revealed this:

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A tiny red squirrel was perched way up high in the tree (and let me tell you, that is one super tall tree!) and making quite a business out of "harvesting" spruce cones! He'd climb onto a branch and nibble at the cone till it fell ...

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... and THAT was what we were hearing!

Cone after cone being dropped from the tree by the squirrel. They'd hit the ground, the roof, the windows ... like little bombs, lol! This went on for over half an hour - such an industrious fellow!

Archie was quite taken with the whole procedure:

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EB and I walked out to the feeder area to take a closer look and we were amazed by how many cones were covering the ground!

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So we'll be watching these next few days to see how many cones disappear and who all is spiriting them off. (One squirrel or more?) We often find cones half-stripped looking like this ...

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And these have been quite nibbled as you can see.

On the diet of red squirrels ...

"His food is far more varied than many suppose and he will eat almost anything eatable; he is a little pirate and enjoys stealing from others with keenest zest. In spring he eats leaf buds and hunts our orchards for apple seeds. In winter he feeds on nuts, buds, and cones; it is marvelous how he will take a cone apart, tearing off the scales and leaving them in a heap while searching for seeds; he is especially fond of the seeds of Norway spruce and hemlock."

(From the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna B. Comstock) 

So Earlybird and I are starting the "squirrels and other rodents" portion of our animal study this week. We already have lots of great "field observation" to report! Throughout November we'll be covering the general topic of hibernation as well.

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Well, my friends, I hope you're all having a good week. I'm almost caught up with Call the Midwife ... made it about halfway through the show last night, and hope to finish up this evening or next. When I do, I'll pop back into Monday's post to catch up with comments. :)

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!



October's Nature Notes

 

(Here's another installment for my Nature Notes storage project. As I compile this post, I realize I took shamefully few nature notes last month!)
 
10/8/10 October's "bright blue" weather is finally upon us! Cool temperatures ahead - maybe even a first frost this weekend! (I cringe for my beautiful morning glories.)
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10/11/10 We're expecting a first frost any night now ... though the days are still relatively warm. I am ready for this turn of events ... except for saying goodbye to my morning glories. They are just coming into their prime ...
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All in all, it was a lovely October ~ the foliage got off to a slow start, but it burned bright as a flame by Halloween. Still lots of color to be seen ... though much of it is on the ground. The juncos returned around the 19th of the month, and we have not seen a chipmunk in a few weeks now.

Looking ahead, November's nature themes will include ...

hibernation
homes and nests
acorns and squirrels
how we prepare for winter.
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And in December we'll focus on ...
forests
feeding the birds
the first snow
starlight and solstice

 Late Autumn is here, my friends ~ enjoy the fading light, embrace the coming cold ... look for the spark in the dark! :)


September's Nature Notes

9/3/10 Hurricane season is here - and the Atlantic seems to be quite the breeding ground for tropical storms at the moment. "Earl" is heading our way tonight, but we are expecting mostly heavy rain and high winds ... by tomorrow it will be gusty and sunny and dry. :)

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9/4/10 Well, Earl was kind of a bust lol. Not that I'm complaining, mind you - but I do love a big storm now and again (as long as it's not dangerous). I'm sure we'll get our chance again before hurricane season is over ... Today is sunny and bright and crisp and SO windy! It's absolutely beautiful - what a blessed day!

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9/9/10 The weather has cooled considerably over the past few days - highs in the lower 70s during the daytime. I like it! We could do with a bit more rain, actually ... it has been a very dry Summer.

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9/16/10 Heard a flock of geese pass over the house early this morning. A familiar harbinger of fall, the sound of honking overhead. :) 

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9/23/10 Look for the Full Harvest Moon tonight! It's now officially Fall ~ but ironically our weather is going to feel quite summery the next few days.