BIRDS, MATING SQUIRRELS, AND OTHER CREATURES – Marilyn Armstrong

When I got up early this morning — with every intention of going directly back to bed — but I took a look at our deck and started to laugh. I have never seen that many squirrels at one time, ever. They were chasing each other in circles on the deck, chasing each other up and down the deck staircase and along the deck rails. It was very funny to see and it just ruined my morning nap.

After that, I went and turned on the coffee. I had put out new food yesterday and there were a lot of birds. Most of them were familiar. Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Chipper Sparrows and another sparrow that looks almost exactly the same, but has a redder color in the strip above his eye. Sometimes bird-watching gets a bit too detailed for me, Even looking at their pictures in my books, I couldn’t see a difference.

I got some pictures of the Blue Jays in the woods, which is a lot harder than getting them on the feeders, and just as I was packing up, a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak showed up. Stood on top of the feeder giving me his “good side.”

Up in the tree 1
Up in the tree – 2
A good day to enjoy the woods

I didn’t imagine he’d hang around long enough for me to get his picture, but he did. Not great views. The angle wasn’t interesting — but with wildlife, you take what you can get.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
I really wanted him to do something interesting
He didn’t do anything interesting. He just ate.

Considering the rest of how life and the country are going, all I can do is give my thanks that I have birds and critters to help me remember that this is my planet and I have a right to be here, even if I’m considered to be too old to be worth saving.

FLYING SQUIRRELS ON THE NIGHT OF MAY FIRST – Marilyn Armstrong

We hadn’t put out the night camera in a while and I still have a lot of unprocessed pictures from the previous two nights. But what is interesting about these is that you can see many flying squirrels gliding in. They look like bars of light, although it depends on the angle. See if you can tell how many gliding squirrels are in the pictures.

You can see a glider in the background, on the right. They are so stretched out, they don’t look like a creature. But they are.
More background gliders
Landed and hungry, He hasn’t fully tucked up his gliding “cape.”
Look in the background and what do you see?
The flat line in the front is a glider too. There’s even one or two in the background

There will be more coming, but we actually cleaned the house today and I’m beat. We even moved the refrigerator and despite my fears to the contrary, the was nothing dead back there. Just dirt.

We have reduced from two to one feeder for now. The birds and raccoons and flying squirrels are trying to drive us into bankruptcy. My theory is that no matter how much food we put out, they will eat all of it.

ATOP OF THE FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

ATOP THE FEEDER

They don’t have to fly very high. The flying squirrels just silently glide in and leave nothing to remind us they were here.

Meanwhile, the raccoons a total mess of seeds all over the deck. This brings in the Mourning Doves who are too big for the feeders, but love walking the deck and eating.

 

 

THE NIGHT OF APRIL 25TH – Marilyn Armstrong

On top of the feeder and in the air – Flying Squirrels

The flying squirrels were super active last night. Flying and feeding, closing the “wings.” They were all over the feeders until the raccoons showed up and took over. You can actually see the squirrels body in the big wings and he is definitely ON TOP!

Two Flyers, with probably more in back and on the other feeder
On the march! Foof awaits … but not much

FLYING SQUIRRELS AND RACCOONS – Marilyn Armstrong

We put the camera out last night. It was the first time in a week because it wasn’t raining. It was extremely windy which means that at least 700 of the 1022 pictures it took were just the movement of the feeders in the wind. And some of them probably were pictures of flying squirrels hiding behind the feeder.

So I deleted a lot of pictures and put the camera out tonight, but it’s going to rain, so I’m not expecting much. Supposed in another week or so, the weather might improve. We live in hope.

I got some fun pictures of raccoons sharing the feeder with flying squirrels. It’s the first time I’ve seen that. Usually it’s one or the other.

A hungry raccoon and a flying squirrel
Raccoon in a tree waiting to pounce on the seeds
Squirrel on the wing and raccoon on the feeder
Reaching inside the feeder for goodies
Flying Squirrel and his companion Raccoon

These are my fun photos of the day. There are a lot more pictures. Hopefully, I’ll get to them tomorrow. And probably the next day and a few more days after that. Even after deleting more than 600 pictures, there are still more than 600 remaining.

THE SQUIRRELS ARE STILL FLYING HIGH IN THE WOODS – Marilyn Armstrong

STILL FLYING HIGH, WE HAVE SQUIRRELS

Up in the air they go gliding, landing on our feeders, then gliding home.

I wish I could be quiet as a mouse and go outside and see them flying in to eat at the feeders. I love that they can drift on the wind and land precisely where they want to be.

Oh, it turns out you can’t housebreak a flying squirrel. They do make lovely, adoring pets. But they need a lot of love, a lot of cuddling, and they can be very clingy. The good news is that if you have a pocket, they are very happy to travel around in as long as you don’t forget to pet them. They don’t like being crated and they need very big cages so they can at least do a bit of gliding.

I actually looked at the cages and they gave me shivers. They live much longer as pets than in the wild. In the wild, they rarely live more than five or six years, but as a pet, they can live ten or even fifteen years.

I think they would rather glide freely through the air, high in the trees. They are the freest, most joyful creatures in our woods. They were never meant to live in cages. Would they trade a much longer life with half of it lived in a cage?

A FEW MORE SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

STILL GLIDING AROUND!

These are some of the ones I couldn’t fit into squares. It’s the shape of the feeders against the dark woods. Also, some of these are really much harder to process than they look. Really hard to get a smooth edge or a clear tone differentiation.

Still, there are a lot of squirrels here, so let’s all glide into the trees.

Two on separate feeders – and I barely got it squared. But I did get it done. Oh, can you see the one in the air in the back trying to glide in?
But this one is square!
This one is NOT square. Sorry! But can you see the big shiny eyes?

MORE SQUARE FLYING SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

FLYING IN FROM EVERYWHERE. THE SQUIRRELS ARE HERE!

I don’t put the night camera up every night. I need a couple of days to process pictures. And sometimes, I need more time than that. For some reason, on the night of April 7, the raccoons didn’t show up, so I got 1020 (that seems to be the number) pictures of flying squirrels. I also got to see more squirrels.

Usually, I only see one Flying Squirrel at the time, but this time, you could see the squirrels doubled up on the big feeder and on the smaller feeder and sometimes, flying too. I couldn’t get all the pictures together as a square.

The feeders are spread out across the deck and squaring them is nearly impossible or at the very least, awkward. Nonetheless, I think I got some good ones here. If you look carefully, you can see their paws stretched out in front of them as they glide to their destination.

Just because it’s so awfully cute!

They’ve got pretty good control of that whole gliding thing. They land exactly where they intend to land.

FLYING GLIDING UP IN THE AIR SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

SQUARING THE FLYING GLIDERS

Sorry. I just wasn’t feeling inspired today. So I’m posting my favorites and most popular from the past few weeks. I’ve been writing a lot and every now and then, it’s hard to find something to say I haven’t already said.

I spent hours last night — like three of them — searching the online world for birdseed that I thought our birds will eat. There is cheaper food, but the birds don’t eat it. They literally toss it aside to get to the better stuff. Everything is backed up for weeks and in a lot of cases, months. I finally found some things on Chewy, so assuming it arrives on a reasonable schedule, the buffet lives.

And here are today’s squares. They are flying and gliding squirrels in the light of the moon. In some, you can see their big shining eyes.

Past lives and the full moon
You can see how tiny the squirrel really is when his wings are folded … and those shining eyes
A glider and a feeder by the light of the full moon
Sketching the squirrel
Duochrome flyer on the feeder

THE CHANGING SEASONS MARCH 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, March 2020


I suspect we will all remember this as the month during which we saw the full-throttle arrival of Coronavirus. My birthday was March 11th and we went out to dinner. The following day, they closed Massachusetts and much of the rest of the country. Interesting birthday. Interesting times.

My picture taking opportunities are limited to whoever flies to our deck to eat from the feeders … and will hold still long enough for me to get a picture.

I have pictures of lots of Goldfinches, House Finches, and a few common sparrows as well as flying squirrels and three young raccoons who come to raid our seeds every night.

They eat by sticking their paws into the holes in the feeder and pulling out pawsful of seeds, dropping about half of them on the deck in the process. This inspires all the ground birds to show up the next day to eat the seeds, though they never really clean up the mess that the raccoons make.

For flowers, we have some crocuses as well as some healthy orchids. Otherwise, we haven’t been anywhere except the grocery to pick up prescriptions or something to drink, bread, and cream cheese.

There’s no delivery here for anything. Not groceries or medication. They will mail drugs, but that takes a few days and I have a tendency to not realize I’m out of that medication until I’m really out of that medication. Garry’s even worse than me — AND our mail has a funny way of not showing up in any reasonable time frame.

Part of the problem is that even when our post office is fully staffed, there are only three or four deliverers for this area. Now, there are maybe two still working. Everything is being delivered very slowly including shipments from Amazon. I have stuff that’s been waiting for more than a month for delivery.

I am grateful to the orchids and the birds. All our Goldfinch have turned brilliant yellow, ready for mating. The House Finches are richly red and the Brown-headed Cowbirds are back.

MORE FLYING SQUIRRELS, SOME OF WHICH ARE GLIDING – Marilyn Armstrong

Many of these pictures are squares, but some are not. I hope you will forgive me, but some pictures just couldn’t fit into a square and they deserved to be grouped.

GLIDING AND LANDING FLYING SQUIRRELS!

I actually got something like form and almost details on the squirrels this time around. The camera took its usual 1020 pictures, about 650 of which showed nothing but a moving feeder or such a tiny bit of squirrel it wasn’t worth processing.

In the end, I got 250 pictures of flying squirrels and another 200 pictures of raccoons. I don’t know why I got better pictures this time, but amazingly I did.

And yes, I am going to show them to you.

I thought this was a neat way to really show the shape of the squirrel (square!)

Above, three squares, three not-squares


It does take me an awfully long to process the pictures. The quality isn’t very good and my goal is to try and extract quality when it’s essentially invisible. Even though I didn’t personally push the shutter on the camera, I did a lot of work on the pictures and figure I’m allowed to affix my name.

You can see the wings and the squirrel! Cool, isn’t it. (Another square)

But, it is a camera trap. If I wasn’t afraid of what the rain and wind might do to my better cameras — which are technically waterproof but I’m not sure exactly HOW waterproof — I’d try to do them with my better camera and lenses.

I’m not that trusting. The wind could blow the tripod over. A raccoon could come and investigate the camera and do strange and terrible things with his tiny little hands. So for now, I’ll just pass and use the cheap but waterproof trail camera.

And in honor of Earth Day, I will feed my animals until I can’t get seed for them anymore. These little squirrels eat a LOT of seed every night … pounds of it! Soon, their favorite seeds will be unavailable and they will have to make do on less yummy treats. I’m sure they will manage to adapt. I’m not sure, but I think I now have dozens of them gliding home every night.

FLYING SQUIRRELS AND TOO MANY RACCOONS – Marilyn Armstrong

The big feeder is empty today. I assume that most of the food is part of our growing phalanx of flying squirrels and raccoons. The rest of it is all over the deck. The raccoons have hands and reach inside the feeder and pull out huge clumps of seeds.

You can almost see the whole squirrel!

Gliding in for a landing on the central post
Gliding squirrel folding up his “wings”
Sitting on the rail, pondering the food banks

The camera took another 1020 pictures the other night. I think this may be its maximum number, but maybe it needs a bigger SD card. I deleted about 700 of them and will probably delete another 100 or more, but I got some interesting flying squirrel pictures and some entertaining raccoon photos.

Ever busy, the raccoon did seeds from the feeder
Oh the joy of seeds
You can almost see these little ones growing each time I take their pictures

It’s sunny with floating clouds today. It’s the first sun we’ve had in a week and it is supposed to rain again tomorrow. Not our best week but rumor has it that it will be better next week.