Thursday, July 4, 2013

Creeper on the 4th of July

Dawn Arrives, Cooler
Cool Enough for 5 a.m. Mist
Patriotic Breakfast
The Ring-necked Female Shows Up
Blue Heron Puffing Wings
Nibbling Wings From Underneath
Who's That Peeking in the Window?
After Insects or Bullets?
July 4 Early Morning Pond Report:

Mist rises from the pond; the heat-wave has broken. When it got so hot this past week, it also turned dry. Shopping at Safeway in Sandpoint on Tuesday, the cashier says, "It nearly broke 100." The average summer high for this part of norther Idaho is 82. And mist says we have cooled off.

With a sigh of relief, I hop back in bed for a few more hours of cool sleep. No need to be up at 5 a.m. on the 4th of July. Ah, there is even a breeze, a cold breeze.

Morning Pond Report:

It's Independence Day and I'm celebrating with breakfast on the pond. My favorite light-hearted 4th of July quote is by Erma Bombeck. She writes:

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

Read more here:

I've enhanced the patriotism level of breakfast by adding blueberries to strawberry short-cake and invoke my patriotic right to have potato salad in the morning, served with fried slices of ham. I pour Flathead cherry coffee into my reddest cup and haul it all out to my new spot under the apple tree.

The usual suspects are hanging out along the pond, too--the ring-neck ducks dive, the tree swallows swoop, the horses munch and Blue Heron is preening in the reeds. Over Independence Day breakfast I learn that Blue Heron is a contortionist. It must be that neck coiled above his body. He lifts his wing up and slightly out. Instead of flying off, he stretches his neck back and beaks beneath his feathers from underneath. It makes me think that this is a good spot to practice yoga, or not.

Todd and the two GSPs find me in the pasture. He tells me to load up, that we are finally going to take the Blue Goose into the mountains. We call our truck the Blue Goose because we once owned the Red Rooster. I guess we name our trucks according to avian color, although I admit to never seeing a goose this color of blue. Quickly I go inside to grab a few things, like iced cran-water and emergency t.p.

Before we leave Todd calls me to his gun room. I inhale a groan. It means he want to show me something, and that something is usually a gun for sale or a video of guys shooting long-range. The gun room is contained chaos; bullets, brass and gun-powder cover every inch of shelves, tables and even his desk. Books tumble from stacks--I'm the one who keeps re-stacking them--and boxes line the walls filled with stuff beyond my comprehension.

Red-Shafted Northern Flicker? No...
Western Kingbird? No...
HOURS Later and Look Who's Looking at Me
4th of July Creeper is a Catbird
Instead of looking at his computer monitor, he reclines in his chair and looks at the window across the room. With the cool breeze, he has the window blinds raised and the window open. We look at the thick pine just outside. "Watch," he says. Suddenly, a bird hovers at the window, pecking, dipping and flitting off. I run out and grab my camera, taking a seat on the floor.

"Is he after insects?" I ask. We agree that that's the most likely explanation. The bird returns--snap, snap, and I have captured slate gray blurs.

"Did you get a shot?" Todd asks, as if we were out shooting grouse. I show him my blurs. He hands me his camera and I see several shots of the bird. They'd be clear if the windows weren't so dirty. There's a definite red-color to the bird's rump and I say that it looks like a red-shafted northern flicker. We watch a few more times, then decide to hit the dirt roads.

In conclusion of today's blog, I'll post photos from the trip we took into the mountains behind Elmira Pond. We had trouble finding access to public lands, frustrating when wealthy home-owners build their mountain estates and cut off people who just want to go bang around in the hills, looking at wild-flowers, maybe fishing or picking berries. It doesn't feel like Independence Day, but we do find a road up and even over, but it abruptly ends before dropping down into the Pack River.

But there's more to this bird at the window story. We return late in the afternoon and I go into Todd's gun room to retrieve his camera. There in the tree is the bird, peering back at me. Then he hits the window. I don't think he's a northern flicker, eating insects from the window, he's a creeper. Suddenly, I realize this bird wants in. Five more times he hits the window and since this morning he's learned to hold onto the screen with his bird-toes. Definitely a creeper.

Turns out he is a catbird and he might be attacking the window if he sees his reflection. Or maybe he's another local gun nut. The best advice via Cornell Bird Lab is to simply draw the blinds. That's what I do anyways, to hide this male domain from the rest of the female-approved house. I think it's funny that our creeper is a catbird, because Todd also has Bootsy coming in to meow for him at night.

Here's a parting shot of our drive into the Selkirks behind our house.

How 4WD Adventures Begin

Hot-Wiring Our Own Truck

Indian Paintbrush

Mountain Raspberries & Ferns Cover the Forest Floor

Tiger Lilies

4th of July and Snow Remains

The Blue Goose

Brown GSP

Evidence of a Fire 80 or more Years Ago

Across the Bridge is th End of the Road

Unidentified Yellow Flowers

American Dipper (Nest in Mountain Streams)

View of the Valley Below (Elmira Pond is South)

Near the Tops

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