The sounds in my forest

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Shortly after posting Mother Nature Abounds two nights ago, I heard my mystery bird calling from our wooded waterfront.  (Unlike waterfront properties built before state and local government adopted shoreland zoning laws, our property has not been clear-cut down to bare earth, which means we have a mini-forest separating us from the lake.  While I may not have an unfettered lake view from my windows, I have something much more beautiful and ecologically sound – habitat that supports an abundance of wildlife.)

When I heard the gentle screeching from the woods, I ran outside toward the sound (a familiar tactic of mine, taken to the extreme in I Swear I’m Not Making This Up).  I caught sight of an owl flying among the trees along the lake’s edge, and saw and heard enough to connect bird and sound together.   Take a listen to the sound of a juvenile great horned owl here:  http://birdnote.org/show/great-horned-owls-calling.

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Looking forward to posting loon pictures tomorrow – we saw a raft of loons tonight and several pairs of parents and chicks.  Tomorrow is Maine Audubon’s 2016 Annual Loon Count.  If you don’t know much about the annual loon count I’ll be eager to tell you about it tomorrow.  Sleep tight.  I’m going to lay down and listen to my dog snore and my owl scream for a snack.

Mother Nature Abounds

Monday afternoon I was delighted to find a great horned owl perched high in the limbs of a pine tree about 200 feet from my back deck.  I had followed a very specific sound into the woods, hoping to identify the animal responsible for the intermittent shrieking that has been piercing our sleep for several weeks.  I’m not sure I found the culprit, but I did find this amazing owl.  I have never seen a great horned owl so I was very excited.  I didn’t have a great deal of time to stay and take pictures, and I didn’t want to bother the owl anyhow, so I did my best and the result is the top row of photos.

Tuesday afternoon I went looking for this same owl and found a juvenile great horned owl.  The juvenile was perched in a tree that overlooks the abandoned stump that was, I believe, the place where my murder mystery/kayak attack began a few weeks ago.  (See I Swear I’m Not Making This Up if you need to come up to speed.)  So now I’m wondering if the predator in that crazy showdown was an owl and the prey was in fact a family of raccoons that nested in the top of the stump (which is more of a 12 feet broken tree than a stump, but you get the idea).  I think I may be on to something here.

Seeing the owls would have been enough to last me for the entire month.  (Though of course I’m greedy and already hoping to see them again, or at least for my husband to see them.)  But Mother Nature is really outdoing herself at the moment.  This morning I saw a doe and two fawns.  No camera on hand.  I also saw a little brown rabbit twice, but again I was without a camera.   Monday and Tuesday I saw a lone turkey (a female, so a hen) and her baby (a chick).  Wondering where the other chicks went.  Guess I might know.  The first time I saw the mama and baby turkey I scared them when I opened my always-stuckish garage door; the second time I didn’t have my camera.

Did my milfoiling yesterday and today.  Loads of fun, that.  Thankfully my milfoil sector has been changed from one (nearly free of green stuff growing) across the lake to the sector where I live, which is so full of green stuff growing you can hardly paddle through it.  I guess the only reason I’m thankful for the switch (aside from not needing to inconvenience my husband, who would have had to motorboat me to the other sector) is that while I’m paddling around mumbling “whorled, feathered, whorled, feathered” to remind myself of the key features of variable-leaf milfoil, I can also take note of the osprey adult clutching a fish in its talons and flying back to screaming nestlings, the great blue heron poking about for a meal, the swallows swooping low for dragonflies, the loon calls echoing in from further down the lake…

I also have to make time to water the flowers that I insist grow on the front and side of my house.  I find myself doing this in the late afternoon most days, after I have given up on rain coming through in the night.  Watering these flowers requires a fair amount of watering-can-lugging, and so I make it into an exercise task, this lugging, since I never do seem to exercise as much as I’d like.  My lugging route takes me past the back deck, which means I simply turn my head to the left and look for baby phoebe beaks in the nest.  Finally – three beaks!

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I think these birds are way too hot under the deck. I’ve considered a fan, or a small wading pool, but decided I should leave well enough alone and let their parents handle the care and feeding of hot birds.  Observant readers  will quickly note that my concern for these hot birds is a minor obsession (see Dog bowl bird bath).

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Whenever I peer through the space between the deck boards to check on these babies all I see is heaving sides – birds trying to breath through the July heat.

And July’s heat has arrived.  June’s Strawberry Moon has come and gone.  The 4th of July is behind us. My neighbor’s garden is going gangbusters, so I’m looking forward to grilling zucchini and summer squash soon.  (Okay, my husband will be grilling.  I’ll be eating.)  Sort of like that phoebe on the left. That gal is always beak open looking for a snack.

The farm stand down the road from us is boasting two cabbages and some garlic.  Yes, two cabbages.  Cut them some slack – it’s a hobby stand at best and besides, I certainly haven’t grown a cabbage yet.  (In fact, I’m not even trying.  But I’m sure hoping that the pumpkin seedling I bought last month does amazing things.)

Wildflowers keep changing in the field beyond the farm stand.  We’ve gone from a wave of lupines to a wave of Rudbeckia hirta, or black-eyed susan’s.   Rasberries are ripening.  And old axes have been sunk into deadwood to rest.

Yes, folks – summer in Maine has arrived.  Get some while it lasts!