I recently returned from an extended stay at the cabin, it can be such a different world it truly awakens my senses and renews my soul to spend time in the woods. It's hard to believe but on the 19th of this month, it will have been one year since that freak storm ravished the cabin trees. And I'm still hauling brush and burning it! I’m looking forward to everyone visiting for the family reunion you all are going to see such a difference in the cabin yard. I know everyone will rave about how wonderful it looks but truth be told if I could turn back time I would, to the day before the storm and put all those trees back in place.
Now as unpleasant and dirty a job hauling-year-old brush is, I actually enjoyed the experience because of what took place around me as I was pulling the brush out of tangled piles in the woods. When the linemen cut the fallen trees that were around the electric lines they stacked it all into a big pile, which was nice of them but sure made for an ugly mess of dead stuff. So this past stay there my goal was to attack those piles and clean it up. I know some are saying “Why clean it up, just leave it to rot” problem is it can take years for those piles to rot and in the mean time they kill all the smaller ground cover plants and look darn awful and can be a fire hazard.
So I suited up and gathered my hedge clippers and doused myself in bug spray and started to haul brush. When suddenly a small bird flys from inside the pile and nearly hits me in the face! Yikes! The little bird settles on a branch above my head and begins to squawk and chatter at me, it was a Winter Wren. He did not want me there I was in HIS territory. I have heard this secretive little woodland Wren in the yard for weeks but had been unable to spot him. They like to live in tangled brush and make their nest low to the ground in the dense tickets of fallen brush. Ok now, what am I suppose to do? I don’t want to disturb the little birds home but I want to get the mess cleaned up. Umm Birdy won, I moved on to another pile for now.
I successfully removed a messy brush pile across the driveway from the Wrens home but the whole time I was working he sat in the tree and scolded me. It made for nice background music to hear his song but he was still unhappy about me being near his home. I'm sure there was most likely a nest in there that he was protecting. But as unhappy as the Wren was to have me hauling brush a family of Blue Jays was excited about my activity in the woods. I had the brush pile cleared and was barely out of the woods when I family of Blue Jays noisily flew in and landed in the freshly cleared area. They began to hop about and scratch at the ground and peck at the bugs and worms they were finding. I mean you don’t think about what lives in or under such a mess but there seems there was life under there for some to enjoy. But it only made me go EWEE... how many bugs and spiders were in there and I might have touched one !? A hot shower was needed ASAP!
After my shower, I was walking along the driveway admiring the days work to clean up the brush piles and I was happy to see the Wren was sitting atop his brush pile quietly preening. He saw me and let out a song with his head thrown back then he hopped into the dense pile, all was well with him now. I kept my distance from his home and gave him the space he wanted. Then I noticed that in the area of the brush I had just cleared there were two Ravens, they were flipping the leaves over and poking at the ground with their large beaks. One Raven grabbed a grub and fed it to the other Raven which must have been a young one. It flapped its wings and begged for the grub with its mouth open.
So you know what, I wasn’t the only one who benefited from cleaning up the dead mess of branches, the birds enjoyed the bounty of easy pickings of those creepy crawlies that were hiding under the brush. I know some are wondering how can you call that a vacation? Spending days dirty and sweaty hauling brush from the woods. But ya know what, yes it is hard and dirty work but when you slow down and look and listen to what's going on around you even the nastiest job can be enjoyable.
And there was still time to do some birding, there always is isn’t there. I met a nice couple from Massachusetts at the campground who were enjoying birding in the area. Lucky guy he spotted a Boreal Chickadee along the river, I took the trail later but never got the chance to see the Boreal Chickadee, darn. They were telling me about a Bald Eagles nest in their town and all about the efforts to protect the site. It's encouraging to hear of people's efforts to help protect the birds and wildlife that we share this world with.
You know what, I don’t need a gym membership I have branches to haul and logs to lift. I don’t need a life coach to help motivate me to “Give me 10 push ups!” “Let's tone those abs!” I don’t need an iPod with ear buds to zone out the outside world, I’ve got the sounds of nature surrounding me. I've got a Wren scolding me to keep moving, get that job done and get out of here!
Happy Birding, Jane