Backyard Wildlife

9 May

Recent sightings from my kitchen window in Maryland and from a recent visit to Ohio.

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Grackle #115

25 May

grackle115I came home at lunch time today so I could take Rufus for a walk…or at least play with him in the yard. It’s nice living close enough to my workplace to be able to take a break like that now and then. While I was in the backyard with Rufus I heard a bird chirping loudly and insistently. Rufus was totally disinterested in the bird but I felt compelled to investigate.

It wasn’t long till I discovered a bird lying on its back under our holly tree. I went in for a closer look. It didn’t look as if the bird had been attacked by a predator but I was mystified as to how it had been injured. It wasn’t anywhere near the house so it was unlikely it had flown into a window pane. It seemed to be a juvenile but certainly not a fledgling that had fallen from a nest. I brought Rufus inside and began researching what to do for the little critter. I posted some photos and a query on two bird groups I belong to on Facebook. The birders quicky identified it as a Common Grackle. I also called the Maryland Department of Natural Resources who referred me to a wildlife center in nearby Columbia.

Luckily Judy Holzman, who operates the center, picked up on the first ring. She advised me to place the bird into a well-ventilated box lined with towels. She said to cover the box, secure the lid and place it somewhere warm where my pets couldn’t get to it. I did as she instructed but explained I had to return to work and that I’d bring the bird to her center after I got home from work.

When I did return home, I was fearful about what I would find when I opened the lid of the box. The grackle was still very much alive and alert but also still unable to support itself, much less fly. He remained on his back. I secured the lid back on the box and trekked on over to All Creatures Great and Small, Judy’s wildlife center.

Judy agreed that the bird is a young grackle and logged him in as Grackle #115. She seemed as puzzled as I was about how the bird had gotten injured. She weighed him and said he was underweight. She gave him some meds (I think it was amoxycillin) and placed him in a truss to keep him upright inside a cage.

Grackle #115 has plenty of company at the wildlife center—a room inside Judy’s home. The injured animal ward was lined with cages and crates. There was already another grackle there who had a visible injury to its breast. I also saw what looked like a chipping sparrow. Hard to tell because all the bird cages were covered with cloths, I presume to make the birds feel more secure. In a very large crate, not covered with cloth, were several squirrels.

Judy said she’d give my little grackle fluids and keep an eye on him for improvement. If he does recover, she’d like me to pick him up and release him in the same area where I found him. I do hope that comes to pass!

My Friend, Flicker

21 Mar

He visited us last year and he’s back this year. We had first been alerted to his presence by a persistent tapping, audible inside our house, oddly enough louder in the basement than elsewhere. It took us a while to determine that a Northern Flicker had been pecking at our chimney cap. This morning I finally caught him in action. One video records his rat-a-tat-tat. The other records a call he sends out. Can’t explain his behavior but it is amusing nonetheless.DSCN3777

DSCN3778

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker

A Wedding, Historic Houses, Castles and the English Seaside

12 Aug

The last few days have been rather hectic. After the wedding on Saturday and a reception that lasted into the wee hours, our friends Heather and Graham have been the perfect hosts. They’ve taken us to visit some historic homes and castles. We’ve had a quick visit to the English seaside at Lyme Regis where they own a cottage and a gift shop. And when we haven’t dined at pubs or tea shops, Heather has prepared some amazing meals. It will be difficult to say goodbye tomorrow morning but I’m sure we will meet up again with our good friends.

The happy couple at All Saint's Church in Martock

The happy couple at All Saint’s Church in Martock

The grounds of Orchardleigh, the wedding reception venue

The grounds of Orchardleigh, the wedding reception venue

Orchardleigh, the wedding reception venue

Orchardleigh, the wedding reception venue

Cupcakes!!

Cupcakes!!

Lytes Carey Manor

Lytes Carey Manor

Heather & Graham's Garden

Heather & Graham’s Garden

Heather & Graham's House in Martock

Heather & Graham’s House in Martock

Montacute House

Montacute House

Lyme Regis, Dorset seaside resort

Lyme Regis, Dorset seaside resort

Lyme Regis from the Cobb

Lyme Regis from the Cobb

Sherborne Castle, former home of Sir Walter Raleigh

Sherborne Castle, former home of Sir Walter Raleigh

Family of swans at Sherborne Lake

Family of swans at Sherborne Lake

Sherborne Abbey

Sherborne Abbey

Breakfast at Heather and Graham's

Breakfast at Heather and Graham’s

The inimitable Bertie, Heather and Graham's working Cocker Spaniel

The inimitable Bertie, Heather and Graham’s working Cocker Spaniel

A Mid-Somerset Day Trip

8 Aug

We are in Somerset now, having rented a car at Heathrow airport. The drive south west of London took us past Stonehenge and on to a homely B&B on a small lane outside a little village in the midst of the Somerset Levels next door to an apple cider mill and across from Burrow Hill, a local landmark. If I passed a hobbit along the lane I wouldn’t be surprised.

Today, we took a drive to nearby Glastonbury where we toured the Abbey ruins and climbed 518 feet up to the top of Glastonbury Tor for a spectacular view of the surrounding area. The Tor is actually the name of the hill. Atop the hill is a single roofless stone tower, all that remains of 14th Century St. Michael’s Church.

Glastonbury is host to countless myths and legends tied to King Arthur, the Holy Grail and Joseph of Arimithea and is now home to a thriving New Age community of which we saw evidence in daisy chain head bands, dreadlocked hairstyles and psychedelic murals about town.

Mocha Berry Café in Glastonbury town center.

Mocha Berry Café in Glastonbury town center.

Glastonbury Town Center

Glastonbury Town Center

Abbott's Kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey

Abbott’s Kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey Ruins

Herb Garden at Glastonbury Abbey

Herb Garden at Glastonbury Abbey

St. Michael's Tower atop Glastonbury Tor

St. Michael’s Tower atop Glastonbury Tor

The View from Glastonbury Tor

The View from Glastonbury Tor

Burrow Hill

Burrow Hill

Thatched Roof house next door to our B&B

Thatched roof house next door to our B&B

Burrow Hill B&B with a view of Burrow Hill

Burrow Hill B&B with a view of Burrow Hill

Out and About in London

5 Aug

Enjoying lovely weather on this visit to one of our favorite cities. We’ve been seeking out places we’ve never been to, such as Little Venice, and are revisiting familiar haunts.

Boats Along Grand Union Canal

Boats Along Grand Union Canal in Little Venice

Along Grand Union Canal

Along Grand Union Canal

Coot gliding in the canal

Coot gliding in the canal

Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal

Paddington Station, home of Isambard Brunel's Great Western Railway

Paddington Station, home of Isambard Brunel’s Great Western Railway

The Victoria pub

The Victoria pub

Strange but tasty salad of  poached salmon, avocado, beans, grapefruit, oranges and arugula

Strange but tasty salad of poached salmon, avocado, beans, grapefruit, oranges and arugula

Can't do London without some fish and chips!

Can’t do London without some fish and chips!

Phenomenal display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London

Phenomenal display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London

Phenomenal display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London

Phenomenal display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London

London Bridge as seen from the river bus

London Bridge as seen from the river bus

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Chihuly chandelier at the V&A

Chihuly chandelier at the V&A

Ceiling at the V&A

Ceiling at the V&A

Paddington Pair

4 Aug

The Victoria

The Victoria

On the way to Hyde Park

On the way to Hyde Park

Duck in the Serpentine

Duck in the Serpentine

Feeding the Ducks and Swans

Feeding the Ducks and Swans

Room 204

Room 204

The bathroom even has a heated towel rail!

The bathroom even has a heated towel rail!

We arrived at Heathrow on schedule around 10 a.m. GMT and caught the Heathrow Connect train to Paddington Station. A very short walk brought the two of us to Hotel Indigo Paddington about an hour before our room was ready. No worries. They stored our bags for us and told us we would be VIP guests of the day. This entitled us to a complimentary wine and cheese platter and breakfast tomorrow morning will also be on the house. The cheese selection was generous and quite tasty and we both opted for beer in place of wine to satisfy our parched throats.

A leisurely walk in the neighborhood brought us to the Serpentine in Hyde Park. What a lovely summer day! On the way back we stopped off at The Victoria, a glorious old pub, for more refreshment.

We checked into the hotel about an hour ago. Our room is very small but is stylishly appointed and chock full of amenities including free bottled water and sodas, coffee and tea making equipment, free champagne and fresh fruit. Brad really did his homework in finding us such nice accommodations for our stay.