PORTRAIT OF A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER – Marilyn Armstrong

After the Blue Jay left, the Woodpecker hung around to enjoy a feed at the flat feeder. Woodpeckers aren’t picky and are just as happy eating from the hanging feeder.

I think they get to eat faster on the flat feeder.

For many critters, faster is better. Fewer interruption by other winged locals. I got some really good pictures of this guy.

This first one really shows how big and sharp that beak is. Add to that, his skull is twice as thick as other birds and he is very strong for his size. Other birds don’t want to mess with woodpeckers.

Two big Blue Jays tried to confront him today. For about 2 seconds and then they changed their minds and flew up into the trees. They were bigger, but one peck from this little guy’s beak and they would be goners.

A good look at the beak and head. This is one small, but tough bird!
Fabulous profile but messy eater
Testing the buffet
Aren’t I a handsome bird?

LINES IN THE WOODSHED – Garry Armstrong

The Lines in the Old Woodshed

It’s coming down before the winter comes. Its roof is about ready to cave in. One big snow, and it will bring itself down. That would make a terrible mess, so it makes more sense to take it down before it collapses.

Yet today, I got two pictures of it surrounded by Autumn. I think we will miss it. It has been here for 15 or 16 years. It’s part of our landscape.

The front of the shed
The shed from the side

SPRING AND CACTUS FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Fresh forest leaves, a Chickadee, and cactus flowers – 05/12/19

Usually, I limit these posts to actual flowers, but it was such a glorious, lovely, warm, bright day and all the new leaves in the woods look like flowers. Even the birds look like flowers.

A flyaway Chickadee

We intended to go take pictures, but we wound up cleaning the house, which badly needed it. I had to clear the dead leaves off the deck and also clear off at least some of the millions of seeds. Then there was vacuuming and floor washing and sofa cover changing, and the vacuum cleaner bag exploded.

You know. A lovely weekend day at home.

I also have a little bird story.

Very red cactus flower

Yesterday I was in the bathroom about to do something I felt was somewhat urgent, but I made the mistake of looking out the window. “Holy Moly!” I cried. There was a Pileated Woodpecker on the flat-feeder. That’s the really big woodpecker who looks just like  Woody Woodpecker. He has a hammer-shaped head with a huge, heavy beak.  He’s a big guy, too. About as big as a medium-sized hawk.

My azalea

That beak that can break through a chunk of live oak in search of a bug and they have no objection to whacking some other bird over the head if he or she gets in the way.

So the Pileated Woodpecker who I have seen before, but never gotten a picture of him, was right there. There were also about a dozen Brown-headed Cowbirds lined up on the railing, waiting for him to leave. One Cowbird (they aren’t afraid of anything, probably because following herds of buffalo had its own perils) jumped up on the feeder and without a second thought, Mr. Pileated Woodpeckeder bonked him on the head.

Cowbird returned to the railing. Brave, but not stupid.

A crowd of cowbirds

I ran to the dining room, grabbed my camera, turned it on. And, of course, the woodpecker was gone. Vamoose.

Meanwhile, the cowbirds were jumping onto the feeder. I guess they felt they’d waited long enough.

Baby leaves

Me? I sighed, turned off the camera and went back to the bathroom. I’m getting used the disappearing act. So is Garry. He can’t understand how they completely vanish in literally the blink of an eye. But they do. Kind of amazing in a frustrating way.

Baby oak leaves and a very blue sky

So today, I took pictures. Mostly of plants and trees because they do not disappear. They sit still, roots firmly in the ground or in their pots. They let me take their pictures and do not fly away while I turn on the camera.

IN THE AIR AS SPRING ARRIVES – Marilyn Armstrong

Someone wrote that the weather is perfect for being outside. “Not too hot, not too cold, and the bugs aren’t in full attack mode.” Or something like that. People who don’t live here don’t “get” our bugs.

We don’t just have insects.

We have hordes of insects with jaws and stingers. Tiny ones that get into your eyes and ears and clothing.

Evil ones that carry disease and vicious ones that require trips to the doctor and antibiotics. And of course, the slithery ones that eat your trees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they are naked. The trees are naked. The bugs are furry and itchy.

This year, so far, the bugs are “normal.” I see no evidence of returning gypsy moth caterpillars and I just hope that we are back to normal again. Nothing more vicious than mosquitoes and flies seems to be out there, discounting the ever-present ants, of course.

So this is our forest. It has come into bloom. Yesterday, actually. You could watch the leaves unfurl. It isn’t summertime, so I think we are going to get a week or two of real spring, the typically missing season around New England. Not counting that it has been raining three out of every four days.

But otherwise, it’s spring.

WALKS, TRAILS AND THE SIDEWALK – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

We have many paths. Some of our roads look more like paths. We are kind of rural and not overly tidy.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

IMPOSE, THEN UNIMPOSE. MEANWHILE, GREED IS GOOD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Impose

WordPress was trying to impose Gutenberg on this site. Aside from it being full of bugs (which they are trying to fix, but they should have fixed them before releasing the application!), it’s an excessively complicated format for a blog. Maybe for designing a book, but this isn’t a book.

I’m not writing a book. I’m blogging. Gutenberg did a lot of things to this site that left me unable to blog.

I will not bore you with a list of issues, including the inability to properly format a photograph or for that matter, FIND a photograph to format.

Eventually,  I discovered that you could use the Plugins function to reset it to the Classic Editor. Then I discovered you can’t use the PlugIn function unless you are on a business plan. I’ve been Premium for six years. I don’t have a business and never will and on top of that, we’re on Social Security and there’s no money to pay $25 a month to blog.

So I wrote to them. You can still get quick results if you figure out where to go. To be fair, I also begged because I could probably figure out the “new plan” but I don’t WANT that plan and Garry and Ellin, our two “not very tech savvy” writers, would never figure it out.

Also, seriously, how complicated do you need to make a blogging text format app?

So to actually get help:


1  – Go to WordPress.com

2  – Click the blue “help” button on the bottom right. Send an email with your issue.


In less than an hour, they had reset me to the classic editor. You see, the problem is that — aside from the bugs and there are more of them than I can count (not all of which affected me, mind you, but which mostly affected users like me with very big blogs — in other words, long-timers) — I quite literally begged them to fix this. He fixed it and dumped Gutenberg and now I’m back to the editor I have always used.

I was ready to pull the plug. It changed all the fonts on my headings and changed the size and formats of the headings. It wouldn’t call up any of my graphics or allow me to use former posts. I tried changing templates, and it was even worse. Chaos.

So they fixed me and they did it fast! As far as I can tell, they are promising to leave classic editor available indefinitely. That’s what they are saying because, as it turns out, the new format is way above the needs of most bloggers. I’ve even got “Copy a Post” back.

Sometimes, if you grovel, you get what you want. But not allowing plugins for anyone but business users doesn’t bode well for where WordPress is heading. They are going all out for bigger money, even though they are already making a lot of money. Apparently, not quite enough.

The new motto for WordPress?

“Greed Is Good”

ATTEAN WAY: MAINE, WILD AND WONDERFUL – Marilyn Armstrong

I live in New England and it is where I always wanted to live. I think I originally had a more northern destination in mind, but the requirements of work brought us originally to the Boston area and eventually, out to this valley.

When I dream of the glory of a New England autumn, I dream of Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and Maine. It is beautiful here, too, but up there … it’s breathtaking.

I’m sure the leaves are already changing there.

Up by Jackman, Maine, the weather is changing now and the leaves are turning. Someone asked me about the place and I dug up some information.

Attean View – Sunset – Jackman, Maine

This is one of the most undeveloped areas in New England. It is poor and while there are some “resorts” there, it never developed the other places have. Partly, it’s because it is so far from anything else. Jackman is a tiny town. Not much work. A bit down on its luck.

Any number of attempts have been made to make the place more desirable to tourists, but except for anglers, it’s just incredibly beautiful. And relatively inexpensive, if you don’t mind driving many hours up into the mountains. It doesn’t hurt to have a pretty sturdy little car with four-wheel drive, either.

And some good camera equipment. There are bear and moose are everywhere. There are a lot of signs along the road warning you to be very careful. Moose plus car in a collision will probably kill the moose AND all the people in the car. They are really huge animals and this is one of the places they like.

Moose like bitterly cold temperatures. Any time it gets much above freezing, as far as the moose are concerned, it is too warm. The colder it is, the happier they are.

October near Jackman, Maine

This is what the state of Maine says about the area:


ATTEAN POND
Attean Twp., Somerset Co.
U.S.O.S. AUean (Auburn?), Me.

Attean Pond is one of four large bodies of water in the Moose River drainage to the west of Jackman. More than 40 islands are found in the pond. With 1 exception of a set of commercial C:1mps on some of these islands, the area remains undeveloped. Sally Mountain to the north, Attean Mountain to the west, and rolling hills to the east and southeast complete a scenic background to the pond environment.

The shoreline of Attean Pond varies greatly in composition, providing a diversity of habitat types. Some areas consist of rock and ledge, others are gravelly, some weedy. Among these, several fine sandy beaches are available.

There are a number of good campsites around the pond, which are often utilized by people making the popular Moose River “Bow Trip.” Attean Pond is the beginning and end of this 30-mile canoe trip. A one-mile carry trail connects the western end of Attean with Boleb (?) Ponds, which then provides access to the Moose River and the opportunity to return to Attean.

Wild populations of brook trout and salmon are present in Attean Pond. However, large areas of shallow water are marginal habitat for these cold water game fish during the summer months. Of the total area, only about 600 acres have water deeper than 20 feet. In addition, large populations of yellow perch, suckers, and minnows compete for the available food supply. This further limits the potential for brook trout production.

The best spawning and nursery areas for the salmon and trout are found in tributaries to the Moose River several miles upstream from Attean Pond. The Moose River, both as a tributary and the outlet:

Maximum depth – 55 feet
Principal Fishery: Salmon, Brook trout
Physical Characteristics
Temperatures
Surface – 70°F.
50 feet – 48°F.
Surveyed – August. 1956 – Revised 1977  (** They could probably use a newer version!)
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Published under Appropriation No. 4550
A Contribution of Dingell-Johnson Federal Aid Project F-28-P,

Maine and other small brooks that flow directly into the pond offer few areas that are suitable for spawning. or that could recall large numbers of small salmon or trout.

Lake trout are occasionally caught in Attean Pond. These have moved upstream from Big Wood Pond, where they are stocked. and dwell in a small area of deep water al the western end of the pond. Because of the competition from non-game species, especially yellow perch, brook trout management through stocking is now impractical.

Under existing conditions, wild trout should continue to provide a small fishery. Lake trout can utilize the non-game fish as forage, but it is unlikely that a sizeable lake trout population could be maintained. Management for this species is precluded by the small amount of deep, cold, well-oxygenated water available in the western end of the pond.

Thus, at present, Attean Pond is best suited for salmon. A smelt population provides the forage necessary to sustain this species and salmon are perhaps more inclined than brook trout to travel long distances up the Moose River to the 10 spawning areas in its tributaries.

Small numbers of marked hatchery salmon will be stocked to supplement the wild population. Their growth and contribution to sport fishing will be followed via information from anglers.

Area – 2,745 acres

Yellow perch have become established in the drainage. They have adversely affected the Quality of fishing in Attean Pond in recent years. There should be no introductions of new fish species that could adversely affect the existing trout and salmon populations in Attean Pond, or the management of other waters in the drainage. Minnows, Lake chub, Fall fish (chub), Creek Chub, Common shiner, Cusk, Salmon, Brook trout (squaretail), Lake trout (togue), yellow perch, Smelt, White sucker, Longnose sucker

ATTEAN TWP., SOMERSET CO
AREA 2745 ACRES


This is a fabulous place for a photo vacation. Rough and undeveloped land — with plenty of wildlife and an autumn to die for.

I wish we were going, but it’s too much driving for us these days.