Thursday, March 16, 2006

Feeding the Wildlife

The snow has driven more birds to our bird feeders here at Whitelees. I like seeing the different varieties of birds. The UK birds still delight me. I can't distinguish them by their song like I can with US birds. I think I need to get someone to come out with me to help identify the separate songs.

We had about 30 curlew fly overhead this morning while I was walking the dog. I also heard a woodpecker very close by. I still haven't seen it, but I haven't heard so much woodpecker activity as I have this winter. Trees are here all day long, why is there only drumming in the early part of the day?

We've been getting blackbirds at the fat balls this week. We've never seen them at the feeder like this. I guess hunger will get them to do things they wouldn't normally do. Its fun to observe behaviour. When little Bluetits are at the feeder they don't seem to mind sharing and being crowded in. If a Great Tit arrives, everybody else has to go. Those Great Tits eat alone.


I had some leftover puff pastry from dinner the other night. I baked it up and put it out near the bird feeders. The sparrows loved it. Sparrows are not common in our garden anymore. Chaffinches and Dunnocks are much more common.

Feeding birds reminds me of when my Dad and I fed the eagles. (nostalgia warning!)

Up in Northern Wisconsin in the winter, all birds have to fight for survival. The winters are cold and very very snowy. The bald eagles will hunt near rivers for fish where there is a better chance of open water. However, if everything is frozen over, they become scavengers and learn where they are more likely to get an easy meal.

Dad had taken me ice fishing. He thought I might like it. He drove our car out onto the ice and parked up for our afternoon's fishing. Dad had an ice auger and drilled a hole in the very thick ice. Then he carefully scooped out all the little ice chips with an impliment that looked like it had been taken from grandma's kitchen. We then stood on the ice and watched a bobber in the hopes that a desperate fish would take the bait we had ploppped down into the hole.

Ice fishing is cold. I mean really really cold. If you don't have a little fishing shack, you have to sit in the car or stand outside. If you stand outside, the chill from the ice will work its way through your boots, up past your two layers of socks and to your little pink piggies making them numb. If you manage to catch a fish and its too small, what do you do then? You can't really poke it back through the hole in the ice. The little fish has had it, too small or not. Dad and I threw our too small fish way out on the ice as far as we could throw them. The bald eagles that had been lurking in the pines at the edge of the lake then came swooping down, and grabbed these fish and flew back to the trees. It was great! I stopped caring that I couldn't feel my feet and wished for more undersized fish! I would have given them all the fish. Feeding pidgeons in the park would always pale in comparison to this!

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