Ruby-Throat Enticement

Hummingbird at feeder
Proof from a few years ago… See my Birds ‘n Stuff page

Update July 27: We saw a hummingbird at the decorated feeder before leaving for Iceland on July 15, so I refilled it with fresh sugar water on the 15. Saw a hummingbird visit it on our return July 25!

Birding in Our Woods – April 27

Cormorant display, May 1, 2015
This morning Anita was at the gym so I went out at around 8 AM on my own without my favourite spotter, but with my old, trusty Bushnell Birding Series 8X binoculars in case I spotted anything.

Heard the chipping sparrow’s machine-gun call as I stepped out the front door. It was in the large willow across the street from us. They had arrived in some numbers and I heard them throughout my one hour walk in Our Woods. The spectacular, dependably early, Myrtle warblers were out in force finding tiny insects invisible to me. Peewee commonly heard. Redwing blackbirds were abundant and the males plenty vocal as usual. Saw a couple of females, too. They cautiously don’t announce their presence. Saw the ruby-crowned a few times.

By the two blue benches near the small, well-maintained playground I walked down to the creek that runs SW through the park and flushed what I assumed was a great blue heron, which flew NW along the creek to escape me, probably to the lower “lake,” one of two “made” from the three old quarry pools when the old quarry became a housing development, though I didn’t see it again as I walked counterclockwise around both lakes. The Myrtles, also called yellow-rumped, were plentiful at the N end of the lower lake.

Out of duty I report a grackle in the wild, having already seen a couple, uninvited, at the sunflower seed feeder off our backyard deck. We like to assist the nuthatches, white and rose-breasted, chickadees, juncos, downy and hairy woodpeckers, cardinals and occasional blue-jays by shooing the gourmand blackbirds when we see them. Ah yes! Mustn’t forget the double-crested cormorants, seen today: 4 on the lower lake and 11 on the upper. We first noticed them in Our Woods in 2015.

Snow Say, “Look Meh!”

The BBQ is off limits
The BBQ is off limits

I tend to be oblivious to some things at times, but yesterday’s snowfall had to be an “in your face” kind of event. A Trinidadian friend I have known since 1965, when we we taught Sciences and Math together in a small town government secondary school in the island’s southeast, likes to use phrases like the above title about extreme weather. On a very hot day he would exclaim,

Sun say, “Look meh!”

Translation: The sun says “Look at me! Pay attention!”

I shoveled enough yesterday morning to get the car onto the road so that I could drive my youngest daughter to the airport. I got help from my neighbours, Gord and Marilyn, which was much appreciated because the one thing my cardiologist forbade me to do after two heart attacks a week apart  in February 2000 was – shovel. Fortunately the first attack did only about 10% damage and the second did none, since it occurred when I was still in ICU recovering from the first.

Neither attack came while shoveling snow, which I do slowly and never get chest pain while shoveling. I have done upper body exercises ever since, and am careful not to overdo it when I shovel. Get a snow blower? No. Considering the small amounts of snow we usually get here it’s not a necessity.

Actually the first sign of the oncoming attack, angina, happened while I was sitting right here at my desk on a previous desktop computer typing up a quiz for my new, semester two senior chemistry class. It was a new sensation for me, so I tested my condition by doing 20 pushups. Since this experiment did not cause a recurrence I went to school. The attack came at the end of first period, so I did a rare thing: let my students go early.

I lay on the couch in the science office and an ambulance was called. Picture my mortification being wheeled around the entire second floor of the school to the opposite corner where the elevator was. Students came to the doorways to view what all the excitement was about.

I guess my Trini friend would have expressed what happened that day this way:

Heart say, “Look Meh!”

Ever since then, I’ve paid attention to my heart and listened to my body’s feedback. Not to mention regular exercise and as close to zero trans fats as possible, apart from an annual cherry pie on my birthday. Only 8 1/2  more months to wait…

Anyway, I went out again last night after the snow finally stopped just to clear the sidewalk – my duty as a citizen, and then did a little more. My neighbour on the other side, Graham, and a friend of his were shoveling at the same time. They came over and shoveled the driveway and our path to the house with me, doing the lion’s share of the work. Neighbours like we are blessed with – virtually everyone on the street – are a reason to stay even in a house that has become bigger than we empty-nesters need.

This morning I shoveled a path to the bird feeder so that I could put sunflower seeds out for the cardinals, nuthatches, juncos, chickadees, goldfinches, sparrows, downy and hairy woodpeckers who still feast on the stairway to our deck. Rarer now, for some reason are the blue jays. Some used to stay all winter; now we see them mostly while they are migrating.

Then I went to the front to remove the snow dune the plow left at at the bottom of our driveway and was aided again by Graham and Gord. Many thanks to these kind people.

A path to the bird feeder.
A path to the bird feeder.