THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHANGING SEASONS – NOVEMBER 2019

This is one of the big change months of our calendar. We go from warm late fall days to bitter cold and sometimes snow. We didn’t (praise be!) get snow, but we got a lot of rain. We had one perfect week of Autumn. We used to get a month of it, but times are changing. It arrived late and departed in one night. A lot of trees just dropped their leaves without them even changing color.

But we got Cardinals and our very first Bluebirds. A triumph!

Bluebird and Chickadee

Very pretty Bluebird

Like Su Leslie, I’ve largely retreated emotionally to home and things I have some control over. I try to keep in touch with the world because maybe big things are coming and I hope I’m still here to participate. Meanwhile, I feed the birds — a small thing to help beleaguered creatures — and simultaneously am growing the fattest squirrels in North America.

From the front of the Bluebird

And one day, we had bluebirds!

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and the news has been full of it. But when they talk about huge snowstorms, they mean nine inches to a foot. I am meanwhile thinking two to three feet or, as you folks say, a meter or more. What we are actually supposed to get is one to three inches, which isn’t snow. It’s a dusting.

It does mean winter really is here. I hope it isn’t really awful. A mild winter would be easier for everyone!

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

GROWLING AT THE SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m sorry no one took pictures this morning before I decided that they’d already knocked off most of the seeds in two 4-1/2-pound feeders. No matter what they think, they are going to have to get at least some of their food somewhere else.

But it was funny. There were two squirrels clinging to each wired feeder and literally, a line of squirrels on the rail of the fence. There must have been at least ten squirrels on the deck and the feeders. There was also a tiny chipmunk on the deck and all the birds waiting in the nearby trees, waiting for me to do whatever I do so they could have a little bit of lunch.

I opened the top of the Dutch door and explained, in my best dulcet tones, that we had already discussed this business of endless eating. They dead-eyed me. I swear they did. They wouldn’t budge. I could hear their little squirrelly brains thinking: “She won’t do anything anyway. All she does is yell at us.” They kept eating while ignoring me.

I opened the screen door and starting growling. I’ve been practicing. Obviously talking to them hasn’t done the job. Growling works for the Duke. It worked pretty well for me except for that one big fat guy who would NOT leave feeder. Then, after dropping the few inches to the railing stared right back at me. For all I know he was growling too.

I finally went out onto the deck and chased him around until he finally gave up and leapt for the nearest tree. I went to get a cup of coffee while he and two of his best buds came back to the feeders. I wasn’t gone longer than a minute or two. Those guys are FAST.

I did some more running around the deck while growling — with a little background help from the Duke himself.

Oh, how much he’d like to join in the festivities. We never do anything really fun and he wanted to come outside and play too. My problem is I’m afraid he’ll try to jump the fence and that’s a long first step. The birds like to dive off the feeders, waiting until they are nearly on the ground before opening their wings, but I don’t think this would work out well for the Duke. It’s that whole “lack of wings” thing.


Actually, I wish someone had videoed me and the squirrels chasing around our 12-foot by 12-foot deck. It’s not a very big deck. It was like one of those 1920s cartoons with the mice and the farmer chasing each other around the kitchen table.

I was trying to figure out if there was a way I could put in a special squirrel feeding station and maybe they’d do their eating over there and let the birds eat … but then I realized they would eat everything in their feeder and when they were finished, they’d be back.

They aren’t going to leave. Ever. If there is food, they will be lining up, wearing their bibs. I hope they bring their own utensils. I wouldn’t want them to be stopped by not having the proper nutcracker!

BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS – Marilyn Armstong

I kept wondering why I never saw a bluebird. Ever. Not here or in New York. And I know they live here. But this morning I got up and looked out my back windows and the deck was full of bluebirds!

A good sign for Thanksgiving, isn’t it? Here are some of them.

Two bluebirds

Bluebird and Chickadee

And the Chickadee is about to take off!

Bluebird on the fence rail

AND OUT CAME THE SUN — Marilyn Armstrong

I woke up feeling a lot better. Tired, but better. Little rays of sunshine were sneaking in around the blinds and at 6 in the morning, which is this time of year, just before dawn, the sky was that beautiful deep violet that promises a sunny day. They promised it last night on the weather, but rain again by tomorrow with much heavier rain on Wednesday. I don’t think we’ll run out of water!

Hairy Woodpecker

I tried having a little coffee this morning, but my body started screaming “NO NO NO!” I decided maybe I should listen. But I have the cup and the coffee here, so I can pretend I’m drinking it.

I also took pictures.

Woodpecker

About those squirrels. We filled both wire feeders last night and discarded the flat feeder. The squirrels eat the entire contents of the flat feeder in mere minutes. At least they have to eat more slowly from the wired ones. When we finished cleaning them, they were full. Nine pounds of seeds.

Nuthatch

Still hungry after all those seeds!

Beware birds! The hanging squirrel is here!

The squirrels were out in full force today. Each wire feed had two squirrels hooked on it. I swear they looked like huge, furry leeches. They can’t eat as much from the wire feeders as from the flat feeder, but they still knocked off about five pounds of seeds before lunch.

Furry

One of them decided to try a direct face-off with me, so I let Duke out on the porch. Big fluffy might try to face ME down, but not a dog. About five minutes later, the birds decided it was safe to come back.

Titmouse

Another Titmouse

We must have done a good job with the squirrels last year because there are so MANY of them this year. Most of them were quite little when we put the feeders up, but they aren’t little now. They are big and round and have absolutely gorgeous fur. Every day, they are less afraid of me and Garry (though Garry seems to have more impact than I do).

A baby Downy Woodpecker

Today, they dug in and wouldn’t leave. I had to go outside. They waited until I was standing next to them. Then they inched back a foot or two. Cheeky! Garry and I need to learn to growl and bark. Apparently, they take dogs more seriously than people. So I have a few bird pictures I took this morning.

Titmouse on the railing

A lot of the birds are very small. I think they are just post fledgling. Many of them still have the flecks of color on their white breasts from their brief teenage years. The tiny woodpeckers are especially cute.

SERENADE OF A SMALL BROWN BIRD — Marilyn Armstrong


A strange day, windy and warm

Trees bending and swaying

Our doors slamming up and down the stairs.

No storm. Just a wind, wailing until

A bird came and sat on the deck railing

He sang a song so loud and clear

We thought it was a computer, maybe a phone

Too loud to be real.

But it didn’t stop.

Irregular the song and ever louder he called until

I rose and went to see where the music began.

There he was. A tiny wren on the railing.

From his open throat, a song trilled pure and clear


He such a tiny thing. Feathers, beak and a big voice

Yet so loud the wind could not match him.

That was my day. Today.

Come back tomorrow songbird.

Come back to sing again.

HUNGRY BIRDS, STARVING SQUIRRELS — Marilyn Armstrong

The Starving Wildlife

I think we are squirrel central for Massachusetts. They hang out on the steps to the deck, on the beams under the deck and in the tree overlooking the deck. They are always nearing starvation even as their coats grow thick and glossy and their bellies become perfectly well-rounded.

Two Titmice arriving for dinner. I swear one of them is flying upside down!

As soon as I finally chase the squirrels away … and these days it takes both Garry and me making a direct appearance at the fence and sometimes, the feeder — birds by the dozens fly in.

Three Blue Jays actually attacked a squirrel today. You gotta hand it to the squirrels. If three Blue Jays went after me, I’d run for the hills. This guy just kept eating. Blue Jays are big, strong birds with long beaks. That was one hard-headed squirrel.


I got pictures. I didn’t get all the birds because they are flying in or falling off the feeding in every direction, but I got some interesting ones. I certainly didn’t get all the squirrels. You might think all squirrels look alike, but they don’t. I think I’m going to have to start giving them names.

Missing are the Doves (but they are around, just not today), the yellow Goldfinch (still on their way back from Canada?) and I think the Jays pushed the Cowbirds out of the area for the moment.

One more Blue Jay

Blue Jays are grumpy, aggressive and rather large (11 to 12 inches) birds and since this year — unlike last year — they’ve decided this is the place to BE, they have arrived like an army battalion.

Dinner time for birds

Today there were as many as five or six lined up on the fence rail. Once I saw two of them on the feeder, but one pecked the other, and then there was one.

Cee suggested that seeds are okay and I realized “Hey, there are enough seeds for a forest of miscellaneous plants.” So, no flowers, but lots and lots of SEEDS.