Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Trip to Squaw Creek

Yesterday, I was privileged to go with a friend to the Squaw Creek 
National Wildlife Preserve, in NW Missouri, about 100 miles north of 
Kansas City, Missouri. 

What a wonderful place! 

A series of marshes and pools (which can be controlled partly by floodgates) 
plays hosts to hundreds of thousands of migrating birds in the spring and fall, as well as 
deer, coyotes, Massasauga rattlesnakes (!) and many other large and small creatures all year. 

I'll let the pictures tell the stories: 

A cormorant! 

Turkey Vultures

A bald eagle, high in a tree... and next to it... 

It's nest, and if you look closely, it's mate is on the nest, and on 
eaglets, which it had been feeding. 

Two weeks ago, there were still 80 some eagles at the reserve, but most have 
gone for the summer. 

Yes, those are PELICANS!  In Missouri!  I have never seen one in the wild until yesterday. 

Double-click this picture to see them close up and personally. 

These little coots were everywhere. 

There were turtles sunning themselves everywhere on fallen logs. 

There were geese sunning themselves on muskrat dens. 

I learned the muskrat is very necessary to the marsh, as he 
keeps the cattails under control. 

And there was heron, 

after heron, 

after heron! 

The marshes stretched as far as the eye could see... 
the reserve encompasses 7,415 acres.  

I enjoyed my day out at the marshes so very much... and hope you enjoyed my pictures of them.  I encourage anyone here in this area to take a day to go.  My travel companion said it 
is best to go in the fall during the northern migration, or at the peak of the spring, to see all the eagles, and literally hundreds of thousands of snow and Canada geese, so many that you have to yell to be heard when out of the car!  I hope to see that one day. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Lovely Weekend

Yesterday morning the trees in the wild area across the road glowed in the sunlight. 

A man wants to develop this 26 acre parcel into an amusement park of sorts, 
a driving range, a miniature golf course, and batting cages.  The 
entrance would be on our road, down on the corner.  Two weeks 
ago, myself and 17 other neighbors attended a hearing of the planning and zoning committee to 
discuss this plan, and the gentleman was stunned that so many 
were in opposition.  From a purely treehugger point of view, I don't want the habitat 
destroyed, but we are also worried about trash along our road, and 
vandalism, and the increased traffic.  (among other things). 

Thursday, he called our defacto head of the neighbor's committee, 
requesting that he meet with us at the library in Tonganoxie, 
so, yesterday morning, we all sat down at 10 AM.  At 10:30, the 
man and his wife left in a huff, saying they felt ambushed by us. 

We don't know what will happen a week from Wednesday, 
when we have another hearing... we know the planning 
people are in favor of it, for the most part, with 
an increased tax base.  

The man, from KCMO, intended to have his family members running the place, 
which would be open 8 AM to 10 PM seven days a week... and yes, 26 sets of bright lights. 

I used to listen to the coyotes in this piece of property at night... and loved hearing the birds, the owls, etc.  When we first moved there, we saw deer regularly, but no longer. 

I'll let you know what happens. 

Jester will do anything to get Lil to play with him. 

She actually WAS wagging her tail...

He was trying so hard.  He is such a happy dog, and I am going to have to start 
taking him to the dog park where he can find some other little dogs to play with. 

The red-bellied woodpeckers were there visiting the feeders. 
In about a month, I am going to tail off the feeding so heavily. 

The little birds were waiting to come down. 

Because of this... starlings, red-winged blackbirds, and cowbirds (with the brown heads) 

They are wiping the feed out daily. 

And guess what?  It's happening here at the new house, too.  I'm going to 
have to lay off feeding for a few days. 

The downy woodpecker was taking advantage of the horde being 

Our girl loves her old house, where she came home as a puppy. 

I saw this little guy on the way home. 

And this one, too! 

Barred owls hunt day or night. 

I am going to huge wildlife area tomorrow with a friend, we will 
leave very early in the morning, and get home late in the afternoon. 
Keith will be doing the chores for me, after dialysis. 

I hope to have some wonderful pictures for you! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

This and That

Here is my rinky-dink pen for the rooster in the feed room. 
Remember, there are two roosters, who fight when together. 

Rosster Blooey has been out with the flock for six weeks, 
while Rooster Cogburn languished in the feed room, just seeing the hens through 
the wire.  I finally started making him an enclosure so he could go out 
on the deck during the day.  

I'm laughing as I look at it... that's Rooster Blooey peering out. 

No, Cogburn never came onto the deck, I never found poop. 

Blooey is NOT happy. 

One of these things is not like the others. 

Cogburn is looking pretty proud, and he got right to business. 
I'm glad he's outside, but I hope he leads the girls in tonight. 

I have to tell you, I won't stay up all night worrying! 

Crows are so beautiful... and they are the smartest birds! 

And you know what... Looking at this picture, this almost looks like a raven!  Is that beak black???

The smaller birds are NOT happy when the crows are there. 

These guys are bullies, too. 

I've only seen a very few hawks lately. 

I caught this guy flying over a pasture. 

And then he sped off! 

And in the basement... 
the little plants groweth...

Except it's now very evident that I dumped all the teensy 
coleus seeds into the same container. 

I'm going to let them grow on for a bit and then see if 
I can divide them into individual containers with a smoother 
growth medium. 

We'll see how that goes! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Rest of the Story - Graphic!

Here was the poor doe two days ago.  I estimate her to be about 200 pounds, and 
am guessing she was one of last year's babies. 

No blood around her... I suspect she was dumped, because there was 
nothing to show in the road that she had been hit there. 

When I got out there the next morning... she was not on the side of the road, but 
about 12 feet away in the deep ditch.  I assumed a county truck had 
pushed her off. 

Now, I don't think so. 

There was a trail of hair down the bank. 

This morning, I stopped to see what was left... and... 

This is what I saw.  An empty spot, with hair and blood. 

The trail went up the opposite bank and into the soon to be 
planted field. 

And clear across the field to the treeline in the distance! 

I was dying to go look, but I had the dogs with me.  I also don't know 
who owns the field, and didn't want to be trespassing. 

So, I got up to the nursing home this afternoon and told my 
brother, who taught high school biology before he became a 
fireman... because things like this used to interest him.  
He could not understand much of what I said, but his 
table-mate at lunch, Jerry, who is his friend... was a hunter 
in his prime, and he said one word. 


I said "coyotes could pull her clear across that field?" 

He said "they work together and pull the legs as a group".  

Wow!  I'm in awe of them, I admit it.  To work as a group like that... well... 
I hope they enjoyed their meal.  I suspect it's back there beyond the tree line. 

Jes found something good to roll in this afternoon, but did not smell all the way home.  Sometimes I can hardly be in the same car with him! 

Lilly smelled it, too, but did not roll. 

She DID halfway think about defending it, though! 

The woodpecker is enjoying the suet... and I have 
plans to set up a suet station over here at the new house.  

No hawk pictures lately, except for the banded hawk on the pole last Friday... I either see them high in the sky, or far, far away. 

I'm sorry if anyone was offended by the poor deer... but that's life in the country. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rainy Days and a Sad Loss

We had some sun yesterday, before thunderstorms rolled in. 

How I love taking pictures of the birds! 

These were having a treat of leftovers. 

They made the leftovers disappear, believe me. 

Here I'll stop and tell you a funny story. 

In the hen spa yard, there is a medium-sized doghouse that 
I put in there for the ducks I used to have. 

I have been putting straw in it, because several of the hens like to 
lay in there, so I check it everyday. 

First let me say that because the chickens came in the dead of winter, 
I did not let them outside for weeks.  Then, for at least two weeks, they 
would walk out on the deck of the henhouse, and not go down to the yard. 

Then... one day, I came out there to do chores in the evening, and seven or 
eight of the twelve were outside.  I was able to get them in. 

That was the last time!  I have had to leave the pophole open 
now for 3 weeks, because I am not out there at dusk to lock up, as I was when we lived there. 

There is a six foot high fence. 

So, Keith had to go out there to do an errand for me last night, and I asked him if he 
would go over to the henyard and count heads and make sure everyone was in. 
You see, when I checked the doghouse yesterday, I noticed a lot of poop.  
I knew storms were coming, so I went over to the haybarn, got a handful of hay and straw, 
and took it over and spread it in the doghouse. 

When Keith leaned over, at least six sets of eyes stared at him in the dark! 
He was so stunned he started laughing.  Since it takes two to get them in, 
he left the pophole door open, and left them out. 

We have been laughing about it since last night. 

I suspected they were sleeping outside when I saw the poop, I just didn't know 
how many. 

So, I have broken down and put feed and water outside, which I swore I 
would not do this time, because it draws wild birds and vermin.  I put the 
feed under the porch, though, where the chickens can get to it, and the wild birds won't see it. 

I'm going to keep feeding for another month, then tail it off and stop 
out in the country.  I'll continue feeding here. 

This little guy was on the side of the road yesterday, I have been trying 
for days to get a squirrel picture. 

Lil was on the trail of some moles in the good weather. 

She finally gave up and came up and laid on the porch, where it was 

We saw lots of nice things on the way home... 

And one sad thing... 

I honestly think this girl may have been dumped, there was no carcass there in the morning when I went by... and there was no blood around.  More about her in a minute. 

From a great distance, I saw this bird in the air over the Spehar's pasture yesterday. 
I was thrilled, because the turkey vultures migrate, and they have been 
gone all winter. 

When I actually looked at the pictures today, I realized it was a big hawk. 

I have seen VERY few of them in the last three weeks. 

However, back to the deer...

It was laying just past the little barnyard where our goat friends 

As I drove towards the bridge, I saw this... 

For a minute, my heart jumped because I have seen turkeys on this road, and I have been looking for them all the time. 

I realized, though, that these were not turkeys. 

I began to stalk them slowly (laugh) IN the car.  I drive forward inches at a time. The dogs are so patient, Jester was sleeping, and Lilly was watching. 

I actually began to observe them... and wonder why they 
were not eating the deer, and then I realized I did not 
see her beyond the end of the bridge... 
So when I pulled up to it...

They flew over into the pasture, and there was a third vulture there, 
looking down into the deep ditch along the road.  

My guess is, there was something in that ditch working on the deer, probably coyotes. 

Either they pulled that deer off the road (doubtful) or someone came along and dragged it off and threw it in the ditch, OR... one of Leavenworth County's great road crews came along and 
pushed it off into the ditch.  I might try to take a look tonight on the way back over, if it isn't pouring rain by then. 

God's Cleanup Crew is back from the south. 

We had a thunderstorm last night and this morning, and more is expected later this afternoon. 
We need the moisture here.