...random thoughts, opinions and secrets on children... aging... cooking... crafts... nature...divorce...second chances...
and whatever else I deem curious...
~Copyright 2017. Hootie~

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The color of Copper

Great, it's Copperhead time again.  
Last year I saw about 20 snakes and only 2 were poisonous (copperheads).

This year I am at about that same ration...just saw my first copperhead three days ago.  Fortunately they ARE nocturnal and it was sleeping on the bank of the lake.  I saw it before Winston, which kept his nose away from our sleeping friend.

Snakes are fascinating creatures.  The more I know about them, specifically how to ID them, the more I feel comfortable around and like them.  Respect.  An undisturbed snake, whether awake or asleep, will not come after a much larger threat (me).

Being informed is powerful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Spy...

 Last evening, before the sun completely set, Winston and I went out to check on the Eagle's nest.  I was hoping to see if the parents were on it or if there is evidence of a young eaglet.  I feel 99% sure that nest belongs to the Eagles.  I'd just like some confirmation.  I came at the nest from the other direction and I hate to admit it, but I couldn't find the nest.  The colors of the green leaves and dark branches were blending together too much for my eyes to distinguish one from the other in the fading daylight.  I was very frustrated.

Winston was excited because there were toads everywhere on the woods floor.  He LOVES frogs, but he doesn't really like toads.  I don't know if they taste bad or pee in his mouth, but they DO hop and that's fun when you are a hunter.  (Side note: Frogs are fun to hunt because they can be squished and yet still play!  It's harder to hurt a frog than say a chipmunk.)

Well, frustration was getting the best of me and I was tired of W pulling me every which way to get the toads.  I decided we should just go home and try again another time.  I was guiding Winston up the hillside when a small bird flew up from the ground near us, perched in the branches overhead and looked down.

An Eastern Screech Owl!  
It looked curious about us at first...

...and then it looked kind of annoyed!  

I was about 10 feet directly under it at one point too.
What a cutie!  :)  
It totally made my night!  

Friday, May 20, 2011

A virtual hike with me...

Daily I am blessed with being able to get out, several times each day, 
into the wild outdoors.  
Since my companion is just Winston, I thought maybe my cyber-friends might like to go for a walk too.  

As we head out my backyard, through the woods...there are always deer nearby.  Did you know the buck will grow new antlers each year?  

Today's hike is towards the lake.
The Blue Heron is perched in the middle of his hunting grounds!  

Yesterday I saw these swallow's flitting about.  I didn't have my camera with me then, but I do now.  It is very hard to capture a moving target on film.  And even harder still to make sure they are framed in the shot so you can identify them later on!

These are Rough Winged Swallow's.

After 10 minutes of trying again and again to get a "good" photo, I noticed some of the birds resting on a tree branch in the water!
Drinking on the fly!  

Can you see all three Rough Winged Swallow's sitting in this tree?  
Eagle #1 spotted on 5/19/11 over Griffy Lake
 Before going into another set of woods, I spotted not one, but TWO Bald Eagles!!!
Tomorrow's mission...find their nest!  I read that the female is slightly larger and that Bald Eagle's mate for life.  These really are pictures of two different birds!
Eagle #2 spotted on 5/19/11 over Griffy Lake

At this point on our hike we must become researchers.
This rare flower is called Fire Pink.  It grows in very specific soil types and is pollinated only by hummingbirds.
How cool is that!
Last year I only found 2 of these plants and this year my count is up to 10!    
 Getting back close to home on this hike...but I hear a baby bird squawking in it's nest.
If you click on the picture and it enlarges, you might be able to make out a little fluffy head on the right top of the nest!

Papa Cardinal was very close to his baby and didn't like my intruding.  Mama was nearby too, but she was letting Papa be the bully.

 On a hike the next day...the Eagle's nest!  It's exactly where I suspected it would be!  I took a picture of an eagle last fall very near this same spot.  It's hard to really see the size of this nest.  My guess is it's 6-8 feet across.  I cannot see in the nest, nor do I see the parents nearby.  I promise, I'll be heading back here!
Eagle's Nest spotted 5/20/11
 I read that the Bald Eagle has a wing span or 72-90 inches...6 to 7 1/2 feet!  They can stand 35-37 inches high but only weigh about 14 pounds because their bones are hollow.
In contrast, here's a picture of the baby Black-Capped Chickadees that just hatched in the nesting box in my front yard.  I don't think they are bigger than two joints of my little finger!
Newly hatched Black-Capped Chickadee babies 5/20/11

What amazes me most about my hikes is the fact that I really like walking alone.  I am free to listen and observe all that is around me.  

Hope you enjoyed your virtual hike today!  :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Accidental Mushroom Hunter

I do LOVE morel mushrooms!  

I am not a mushroom hunter though...especially because any time I am in the woods, I have Winston with me on his leash.  Winston and I have different opinions on what to "look at" while out walking.  I'd like to looks for mushrooms and he'd like to dig for chipmunks.  He ALWAYS wants to look for chipmunks.  Sometimes our two desires cross.  When that happens, I am an accidental mushroom hunter.  :)

I was lucky enough to find the "white" morels above.  After they soaked in cold water, I cut them up and sauteed them in butter.  Mmm!  My husband and I savored every bite!  

April is the time of year when Winston and I seem to share the woods with many other people.  They never seem to be on the trails, and if they have anything in their hands, they try to play it off like they haven't found a thing.  I know better!  The first weekend of April this year I saw a man out and asked if it wasn't a bit early to be looking.  Turns out he is a fungi professor here at IU!  I'm pretty sure I was in one of his classes another life time ago too.  He said it was a bit early, but here's the general rule for hunting mushrooms..."A fool goes out on April 1st.  Pay the tax man and then go looking and by the end of the month, when the big mushroom festival in Mansfield happens, hunting time is over." 

I've never been to a mushroom festival, but it seems like I'll be able to remember this general rule of thumb.  
I found this big, brown morel a few days after my first stash.  I big guy like this makes a nice appetizer all by himself.

Surprisingly enough, the woods are back to being a pretty quiet place to hike once more.  Winston is happy...unlike the morels, the chipmunks haven't gone away.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Knitting Fun!

After I aban- doned that doll project, I started on this owl.  He's a cutie, but much larger than I'd like.  I used smaller needles, but it's still about 12 inches tall!

This was a fun project to try.  I need to work on my transitions from one color to the next.  The feet, wings and beak are all knitted separately and then sewn on to the body.  The eyes are felt, which make the signature owl look.  This guy is now residing in my spare bedroom.  He doesn't have a name yet.  Any one have a suggestion?