Saturday, September 30, 2006

Nature Check-In

We are very lucky to be in a nature-filled area, despite the suburban nature of our neighborhood and the proximity of the interstate. We are right on one of the flyways to one of the nation's largest migratory rest stops, which is about an hour north of us. Last week we went up to Horicon Marsh and rented a canoe. We saw blue herons, egrets, white pelicans, and gulls galore. At our own home-sweet-home we get quite a variety of birds too. The lots across the highway have yet to be developed, the river is only about a mile away, and there is a wetlands area to the northeast. Sunrise and sunset bring flocks of Canada Geese on a regular basis, and occasionally we see other unidentified geese and ducks. Only slightly less common than the Canada Geese are the Sandhill Cranes. They are wonderfully majestic animals, and there's usually a pair or two that make our area their home year round, even when the others have moved on.

The past couple of days we've had new visitors. The other day Beo came home and quietly herded us all outside. Lo and behold there were three wild turkeys just on the other side of the fence. I imagine they came wandering down the hill from the lightly forested area on the other side. They didn't seem too worried about us. I'm not sure how much of that was the fence giving us a good blind and how much was just a lack of brightness on the turkey's part, but we were able to get very close to them. (Doesn't the yard look great? It's been cool and rainy, and everything is staying green despite the chill. The no-mow mix seems to love it, and the sycamores are putting on a last burst of growth before fall.)

Today when I stepped outside something caught my eye on the corner of the bench on our porch. Do you see it? Don't feel bad if you don't. I'm particularly paranoid about this area because it's where our jumping spiders live, and where we once saw a big ol' wolf spider--sitting right on the underside of the top of the door frame (prime drop-on-your-head real estate, right?). So my eyes do a quick inventory when I walk out, and they rarely betray me. Okay, I usually just go out through the garage, but I'm trying to be braver. Did you find it? Look under the rock by my little green duck. Ooh, it's a tough one. Yeah, in fact from that angle it's virtually impossible to see it. Here he is! After some cursory research, I think he's a Cope's Gray Tree Frog, but I'm not sure. I don't want to lift the rock up and scare him. I think whatever kind of frog or toad he is, it must be good luck to have him there. I'm enjoying the change of the seasons and the different wildlife we're seeing with it.


Beo said...

If you build it, they will come!

Maddy Avena said...

It's turkey season here too. Big maurading packs of the stupidest birds you've ever met. We got our pears this year before they did. (HA!) Stupid why, you may ask? When you stop in the middle of the road to let them pass and the whole group of them is on the other side and you've taken one more breath just to be sure, you start driving again and one of them invariably just *has* to run back across the street in front of you.
They do drop lots of feathers this time of year, though and I've got quite a collection. I like the white and grey striped under feathers more than the flat ended brown and russet tail feathers.

Boring said...

I love how you make suburbia just a bit wild! When we were hiking on the Appalachian Trail last month we saw a bunch of wild turkey. Though they seem a bit goofy looking when I see close pictures of them, from 10 yards or so they look quite majestic.

Mia said...

You know Maddy, they do the exact same thing here! Boring, they are really neat birds, but silly looking too. I think between the running around like mad and looking goofy, I'm on to why thanksgiving has it's bird!

Beo said...

My favorite thing about Turkey's (and Mr. Franklin) is that Benjamin Franklin lobbied to have them as our national bird.
You go Ben!