Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yard Happenings

We have a busy yard, both front and back. Things visit, weird things grow. It never ceases to amaze and delight me. We have the usual assortment of squirrels, ground squirrels and chippies running to and fro, jumping from limb to limb in the tops of the trees, and the dogs’ favorite, the ground squirrels that love to get under the decking around the pool. Then there are the birds. Our normal visitors are the noisy blue jays, the timid titmouse, the colorful cardinal pair, the doves, a few pigeons, robins, sparrows and once in a while I"ll spot an exotic visitor such as a Baltimore Oriole or a Scarlet Tanager. Here is the Tanager:
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Other bird visitors are not as common. A few weeks back we kept hearing this “bird” all day long on an on-going basis. It was more like a piercing scream than a regular bird call. We didn’t know what it was and could never find it in the thick foliage of our trees. Then one day Rick spied it sitting on a branch in the open next to the yard. It was a kind of hawk or falcon. It took me days to identify it, but finally now know it’s a Broad Winged Hawk. They must have a nest close by. Here he/she is:

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And let’s not forget the turkey family that now visits the front yard on a daily basis, and sometimes as much as three and fours times per day! Usually it’s two hens and five babies. I think there used to be six babies, but lately I’ve only seen five. They are getting so big now! One is much bigger than the rest and we think it must be a Tom. Rick has threatened to catch one for dinner but I think he’s just joking. At least I hope he is. And yes, I am feeding the birds out front. I just can’t stand not to and it’s only a few handfuls. Between the squirrels, birds and turkeys there isn’t anything left for the bear to even ponder over. Here are a few photos of the turkey family. Some were taken through the screen since they spook if I get too close to them.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Yesterday I came home to find we’d had a visitor of another kind. Most likely a bear. My first clue was the bird bath in the front yard was turned over. Then I noticed the bird bath in the back yard was also turned over. Hmm…next I find a picket from the fence in front had been pulled off and on closer inspection, muddy prints were found on the fence. After messing around and getting wet turning over the bird bath, this brazen bear climbed over the fence right then and there. We don’t think it was Ursa and cubs because the prints don’t look big enough, plus she never goes over the fence here. So who was it? Below you can see the toe prints in one photo, and the other you can tell whatever it was had long claws and hair! I’m pretty sure it was a bear.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

As far as weird things growing in the yard, we had another strange mushroom of the same family [stinkhorns] as the strange ones in the front. I first noticed a strange egg shaped object in one of the flower beds. It was a bit slimy and had a tiny root coming out of the bottom. It was not attached to the ground anymore, so Rick and I brought it inside and cut it open. It looked “mushroomy” to us. There was another one right beside the spot where I found this one, only it was firmly rooted in the ground. We watched and watched over several days. Nada was happening. Then yesterday when I checked on it I was excited to see that it had “bloomed.” Here is what it looked like when I first found it:
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

And here it is after it bloomed. We think the rain the night before, er, uhm, shall we say stimulated it to grow. Here it is in all its glory.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

It STANK! YUCKO! The dogs didn’t even want any part of it. I saved it and wrapped it up and put it in the fridge to show Rick. He thought it was disgusting, so I tossed it into the garbage can in the garage. This morning when I went out in the garage the whole place reeked of the smell of that mushroom! I tossed it outside for the slugs. No wonder they call them stinkhorns.


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