08APR2021 – OCF Update – Vultures, Ringnecks and Hellebores

Today was just too nice a day to stay indoors.  Camera Girl and I went over to our local forest and communed with the trees and birds and babbling brooks and rippling lakes and so forth and so on.  She planned to head out to the metropolis and purchase the few necessaries that we still can afford and I planned to get out and take a few photos while I was at play in the fields of the Lord.

It is a magnificent sunny day.  Life is bubbling up from every nook and cranny of the New England earth.  But rather than endless shots of ants and worms and spiders I looked for larger subjects.  Unfortunately, the only flowers available are the daffodils that are right now at their ephemeral best and the hellebore flowers which tend to be hard to photograph.  But I did my best with this limited pallet and somewhere down the line they’ll end up in the Photo of the Day.

But I was able to capture one very interesting image.  I found the first snake of the season.  Under a copper sheet that I keep for just such a purpose I found a ringneck snake soaking up the abundant heat that the copper conducted through its surface from the bright sunlight.  It looked like it was getting ready to shed and he stuck around for a minute or two and I was able to get a few shots.

Ringnecks are a very common creature but quite small and secretive.  I enjoy finding any snakes on the property.  I’ve, of course, found any number of eastern garter snakes and brown snakes.  I’ve found a northern water snake and several eastern milk snakes.  But what I’d really like to find is a black rat snake.  This is sort of the apex snake predator of the region.  They aren’t rare enough to even gain the almost obligatory threatened status that the wildlife nazis love to burden us with.  But they aren’t common in my neck of the woods.  They are a jet black here in New England and can theoretically reach seven feet in length although six feet would be a very large specimen nowadays.  They are big enough to easily eat a chipmunk or even a squirrel but mostly they feed on mice and birds that they hunt for in nests.  They are even able to climb up a tree to find baby birds.  Who knows, one day I may find one of these.

But it was good getting out into the world again.  Spring is triumphant.  The spring peepers are making themselves heard in the evening and all sorts of creatures are about.  I could hear geese in the pond one late night after midnight.  And the turkeys showed up about a week ago.  I always love hearing their gobbling even if they themselves are hidden in the brush.  The painted turtles are back in the pond and bullfrogs have begun banjoing during the day.

Last week we had seven black vultures in one of the trees near sunset.  I took some shots from the house which is a good distance away and shooting into the back lit tree wasn’t that good for the quality of the photos but going out would have spooked them for sure.  Stupid vultures.  But those pictures will go up soon too.

So, I’ve got some photos to upload and some plans to make.  I’ve got to put together some kind of blind that will allow me to get candid shots of some of the more skittish birds and animals.  That’ll take some doing so I’ll have to do some research.  But it’s good to be out of the house.

Nothing Says Spring Like a Blanket of Snow

We had a very warm, snow-free winter this year and now that it’s officially spring, the snow started coming down heavy this morning.  But I’m telecommuting today and don’t have to drive so why not?  There were five deer in the forest outside my living room window.  I was enjoying the view until the German shorthaired pointers joined me.  They started barking and scared the deer away.  But before the fearless defenders of the castle did their job, I was watching the deer feeding.  Apparently, there are enough new shoots on trees and bushes for the deer to browse on.  Yesterday the mallards returned to the swamp and grazed on the plant life that has been available since the pond thawed out two weeks ago.  Camera Girl saw a turtle swimming around over the weekend and the sound of the spring peepers has been noticeable lately.  I put up that photo of the first garter snake and the first bluebird has made an appearance at the feeder.  So even though it looks like January 23rd outside my window I’m not fooled.  Sure, we could still get the April Fool’s Nor’easter this year and even have to break out the snow blower one last time before moving the lawn mower to the front of the shed.  But spring is busting out all over the place.  This is just the spiteful spirit of annoying New England and its contrarian position against anything normal and happy.  But it won’t win.  We just have to be a little more stubborn than the powers of death and dissolution.  There’s snow on the ground but Spring’s in the air.