Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #24: lake from back yard

Mallards gorge on hen-scratch, crops almost bursting. The great blue heron looses her cool and frantically stabs at fish. Cold is a coming.

Pam Croom © 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #23: my back yard

Wrens and sparrows tussle for a roost. Peace accords made. Silence falls over the lake as civil twilight flees; the first chill blows in.

Pam Croom © 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #22: In the backyard

"Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada," the white-throated sparrow has returned! The longed for song again haunts the wood.

Pam Croom © 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram# 21: Morning from back porch

Silver color dew coats the grass and fingers of fog rise on the water. Soon all of it is dispersed by the crystal clear light of morning.

Pam Croom © 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #20: Sky view

Beams of light reflect upon a distant volcano's spewed dust. From tiny particles a flaming sunset sets on the water.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #19: In my backyard

Turning stones, my wren and thrasher shadows watch, just a few feet away, hoping for tidbits.

Pam Croom © 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #18: view on Lake Guntersville

Cloud filled sky the coots stay in the harbor. Catspaws lace the waves and the sky opens, sun shine and birds fly.

Pam Croom © 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #17: View from afternoon sailing on Lake Guntersville

Three feet away, the tern on the buoy looks at me in disbelief. He takes wing and squeaks at me like a rusty screen door. Jibe-ho birdy!

Pam Croom © 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #16:

A bumblebee clings to the screen door. Her Abdomen pumps air in and out; her fuzzy legs black and bereft of pollen. Why is she there?

Pam Croom © 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram #15: From the porch

Branches bob, leaves quiver as shadows weave in the bush. No bird in hand or sight, but two temptingly keep out of view in the bush.

Pam Croom © 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram # 14: Happenings in the back yard

Sorry, I am behind I forgot to post this last night:

Gyrating in the birch a lakeside catbird jeers. The cause spotted-my queued edgy duck public-I feed them, and all is quiet on the lakefront.

Pam Croom © 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #13: view from on water at Guntersville Lake

Light approaching sunset is colorless illuminating everything with amazing clarity. Heavy bomber bodied cormorants lift and fly to roosts.

Pam Croom © 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #12: Out the front window

Female orchard orioles and summer tanagers weave in and out of the sycamore. An absence begs the eternal question: where are the men?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram # 11: view of yard

Orb weaver sitting like a fat jewel in her web dines on katydid while the kingfisher flashes, dives and misses his dinner.

Pam Croom © 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #10: From the Porch

Pines yellow green in the low evening light. Canada geese, hordes swim into the light.

Pam Croom © 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #9

Washed fresh by morning rains, the clear night air spills over and swells with tree cricket and katydid song.

Pam Croom © 2008

Elvis Has Left the Building

It was an overcast morning (23 September), and I could not be sure in the low light what I was seeing so I grabbed the binoculars to check. The day had come; I had been expecting it for a few days. The duck food pan still had food in it; Apple was gone. The pan was not totally full so they had eaten last night, but Apple had not returned before daybreak. The fawn had finally followed his mother off, or she had decided it was time and kept him with her. Apple’s tracks had been ranging farther and farther. He was taking on more and more of the habits of his mother becoming more crepuscular in nature. Beautiful little Apple is growing up and is out in the world at his five week birthday!

Why leave at this time? I do not know. May be the visit from Quince and dark doe unsettled Apple’s mommy and she took him elsewhere. Perhaps the visit tugged at the need for a herd, and they rejoined the other does. Perhaps Apple made his own mind up and stayed with his mom. They have been back since to eat, lick at the salt, and drink from the lake, and Quince and dark doe have been back too-I have seen their tracks. I cannot tell if all four deer are coming to the lake together-I cannot distinguish if the track sets were made at the same time or hours apart. Some days it is just Apple and his mommy other days the tracks includes Quince and dark doe.

The imaginary sign hanging over the backyard that read, “SSSHHH fawn sleeping!” is gone. The backyard now is mowed, I can go about making noise with impunity, and I can go where I want without fear of disturbing Apple. Yet, as I occupy the yard fully it now feels so empty. Apple is growing up and all is as it should be…bon chance, mon ami.

Pam Croom © 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #8: From the back porch

The lake's surface is muted by rain. The birds and snow crickets shelter silent in the soft wet evening air.

When an Apple is a Quince!

Late Sunday morning (21st of September), Joe bursts into the room, “Come quick!” This is short hand for there is an animal outside that you need to see. We run to closest window in the bathroom and look out the small window. There in the shadows by the pines is Apple. He strolls a bit and then stops dead with his ears twitching all about. His mommy walks out calmly and stands behind him. Whatever has spooked Apple is of no concern to his mommy. Apple crouches a little and stretches out his neck. His skin is just crawling. The calico has been about the yard of late, and I think that Apple is shortly to meet his first cat. Something much larger than a cat springs out of the touch-me-not screen and rockets past Apple. He spins and takes out after it.

“IT’S ANOTHER FAWN!” I exclaim.

“Did you know there were two?” Joe asks.

“No…because there aren’t two fawns back there. There is no way that there was another fawn that I didn’t know about!”

The two fawns come to a stop, and I blurt out, “Look, there wasn’t another fawn because they aren’t siblings! That fawn is smaller; it is a good week and a half to two weeks younger than Apple.” The new fawn is quickly named Quince, keeping the name in the rose family. Quince is clearly in control bucking and pronking, and leaving Apple behind to eat her dust. She may be small but she is spunky!

“Is there another deer?”

“Must be, she’s probably in the thicket, because it is very unlikely that Apple’s mommy would have adopted an orphan.”

Apple’s mommy slips back behind the touch-me-not to rest in the lay by there behind the flowers. Apple and Quince follow. I watch a while longer, and I am rewarded for my patience. Quince burst through the bright yellow butterflies feeding on the touch-me-nots. The pretty little fawn and the butterflies caught up in her leap are airborne in a carefree dance! Such a sight, the little fawn circling in the lawn her absolute joy uncontainable, the delight of unfetter play translates across species and I giggle for both of us. The youngster finally runs for cover, called back softly by her mother softly in a voice way beyond my hearing from inside the house.

I know that they are resting and hiding, but I cannot help but be drawn back to the window hoping to catch a glimpse once again of such delightful exuberance. Lo and behold, I notice a silhouette by the sweet gum. Is it Apple? Too big. Oh! It is Quince’s mommy. The doe steps out into the pines. She is smaller and more delicate than Apple’s mom is. Her fur is tawny darkening into an almost black back. The beautiful dark doe gingerly strolls beneath the pines and Quince quickly follows running circles around her. Dark doe takes a few running steps caught up in her offspring’s gamboling play. She walks on, but as she passes from protective shade to the exposure of sunlight, she becomes very alert and cautious. The relaxed deer of seconds earlier is gone. Her ears swivel listening, she takes a couple steps pauses, looks, listens. Quince darts about the yard pausing a moment to take a quick lick at the salt rock. Dark doe slowly stalks on; she looks behind her and calls out to Quince to close rank. They pause at the bottom of the yard looking down the narrow strip before the lake there behind the neighbor’s fence. She makes her move crouching slightly, and the two trot off out of sight.

Quince seemed a bit too young to be moved, but perhaps something disturbed them. Whatever it was, it must have been very threatening for the doe to move her baby in the middle of the day! Apple’s mommy was probably not ready to join other deer yet. Clearly, Apple’s mommy is not the lowest stature doe in the herd since it is Quince’s mommy who left the thicket. Apple’s mom obviously did not tolerate her there with Apple yet. May be dark doe is Apple’s older sister. Young does often give birth near their mother’s fawning ground. Her inexperience was obvious since she was moving a small fawn abroad so much during daylight; also, that she is so much smaller than Apple’s mommy may illustrate her youth.

I glanced out the window again, really not expecting to see any more, when they came back. Dark doe so very nervous making her way step, step, pause across the yard. Quince absolutely confident and fearless, in the wake of her mommy, fools around as they progress. Dark doe pauses before the bird feeders a few yards from the house. It was that classic deer pose of one front foot raised, ears forward, and eyes bright looking to see if it is safe. I reach for the binoculars that hang by the kitchen window to get a better look (sorry-I never think to grab the camera). She is truly a fine looking doe. They pass by the house in that hesitating walk and leave the yard. I wish them luck.

An Apple and a Quince not a bad harvest for such a small yard!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram #7: from the porch

Wind soughs through wires that massacre migrants, but holds up the tower that transmits messages of love, indifference, and bring home milk.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram #6: From Guntersville Lake

The coot flock's dits and dahs telegraph like chatter drifts on the breeze and catches in my sail.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram #5: from the back porch

The great blue heron's neck coil and springs at shadows in the shadow of the willow.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram #4: View from the yard

Webs festooned with small webworms bespeak the parting of the yard cuckoo for winter digs.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bonta-Nature-Gram #3 from the back porch

Sitting on the feeder a redwing warrior showing only the coward's yellow epaulets as two pennant-tailed blue jays fly in formation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bonta-nature-gram #2: from thicket

Soft, buff, feather pile is a mourning dove’s last lament. Yellow jackets tumble over meaty morsels dropped by the now absent diner.


The ducks’ hen-scratch tinkled into the dish as my eye just caught a wing tip swing by in the sky. A vulture? No, whoa! My head snapped skyward; I had seen before that wing turned down, ever so slightly, at the wrist! It was an osprey, a very unlikely sight over our lake. He lazily circled the lake, and then dove, half-heartedly, at a fish. He pulled up with empty talons dangling behind him, and lighting ever so carefully in a pine he settled in for the night. He must have been a migrant pushing south. Probably full from hunting in other lakes or rivers, dinner seemed not to be on his mind. He was now more interested in finding a perch for the night which would offer a vantage to spy breakfast in the morning.

His wing tip reminded me of another osprey wing tip I spied once when I was descending a curvy road to Saltville, Virginia. A narrow wrist caught my eye as the owner ascended on the thermals over the wellfields. I was stunned to see an osprey so far from the sea or a large lake. He seemed so out of place to me, but to him, he was right at home. Saltville, aptly named, nestled in the ridge and valley area of Virginia is the site of a brine spring that flows through a few ponds or as they called, the wellfields. The wellfields are one of the few inland salt marshes in North America. The wellfields range from very salty to barely salty like most salt marshes. Ducks and other birds brought seeds from the seashore in on their feathers and halophytic plants colonized this saltwater refugium. The most gorgeous swamp mallows and deposits of reddish salt-like rock ring the wellfields. And the snails! There are the most beautiful, stripped, large, land snails to be found all around the water.

The salt has attracted critters from Pleistocene mega fauna to present day critters. People, probably attracted to animals first and salt second, showed up about 14,000 years ago. The Spanish came through the area followed later by English colonists. The salt works provided the Confederacy with two thirds of its salt. Salt was so important the North attacked and destroyed the salt works.

The salt marsh has been damaged and reduced by human exploitation of salt and grazing, but a remnant marsh remains. If you are ever in the toe of Virginia, do visit this extremely rare salty refugium.

Pam Croom © 2008
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