Posts tagged nature

Fox Update #7

Well, last night was the night for the 6th dose.  As you can see, a fox got the hot dog (left), but not the fox I wanted to get the hot dog (right).  This does, however, give me a useful comparison for how far “my” fox needs to go before he is truly recovered.  I’m beginning to wonder if the end of his tail is permanently damaged as it’s still just the bony end I see.  He is looking a lot better now.  I thought of him in his den, snugly wrapped in his new tail during these past two frigid nights.  I’ll try again tonight with the medication.  If the other fox has any mange, I suppose it’s a good thing he got the dose.

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Cooper’s Hawk goes to Rehab


My husband was driving on a nearby road and saw a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on the yellow line, apparently injured.  He jumped out of the car, stopped traffic, tucked the bird under his arm and drove home.  He found an appropriate box and put the bird in, closing it up in hopes it was just stunned.  I returned from the store a few minutes later and he wanted to show it to me.  When he opened the box Ms. Coop burst out and ran across the lawn but couldn’t get any lift to fly off.  Suddenly a Red-tailed Hawk swooped down on the Coop in an attack.  The Red-tail must have seen us as it abandoned the attempt and flew off without touching the Coop.  After a prolonged chase my husband recaptured the Coop (we think female due to the size) and we took her to Wildlife in Crisis, the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center.  We hoped it was just a soft tissue injury as the wings were not displaced and a preliminary exam found no obvious break, but an x-ray showed a break that would require a three month rest and recuperation.  The prognosis is good.  She is a stunningly beautiful bird but a stone cold killer of our feeder birds.  They may have a three month rest as well. (photos by George Van Der Aue)


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Making Wreaths


One activity I enjoy at this time of year is making a wreath for the door.  I especially like a natural wreath made with local materials.  For this project the  most fun is going into the woods to search out just the right boughs, berries and cones.  They must have variation in color and form to make it interesting.  There are a surprising variety of coniferous trees in our Maine woods so I quickly gather a nice assortment.


Cup of tea and binoculars at hand (just in case a bird lands by the window), materials sorted, wire, wreath form and clippers at the ready.  Let us begin!



Wire your elements together.  First wire cones, (leaving wire “tails” to secure them) then make an attractive bundle, (see below) wiring it all together with florist wire.  Leave about 4 inch wire “tails” on your bundle so you can wire it to the form.

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When you’ve got 10 or 12 bundles start wiring them to your wreath form individually using the 4″ lengths.  Attach the end of a roll of florist wire securely and wrap it around further securing each bundle as you go.  Place each bundle so it hides the base of the one before (I was working counter-clockwise in the picture above).


When you get to the final bundle arrange it so the base of the first bundle is hidden under the loose end of the last bundle.  You will have secured each bundle plus made sure it won’t get dislodged by wrapping it around the form with the running length of florist wire.


When you are finished make a loop in the wire for hanging, securing it tightly.  Then cut the wire off the roll.


If you don’t think your finished wreath will be full enough, put down a plain layer of branches for a base and lay your bundles over them.  This base will be secured by the running wire wrap as you go along.


herb wreath

Wreath of fresh herbs (smells  sooo good!)


Magnolia Wreath (see my post of December 14, 2013 for instructions)

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The AT: Day Hike on the Appalachian Trail

The vista from the top of Pine Knob.

The vista from the top of Pine Knob.

I’ve wanted to hike the entire 2,100 plus miles of the extraordinary system known as the Appalachian Trail (or AT) ever since I first learned about it as a teenager.  Family, career and life in general intervened and a few years ago I realized that this was one life goal I would not accomplish.  I am one who does not relinquish my goals easily, so instead I decided to be less ambitious and try to hike only the 53+ miles of the Trail that wind through the northwest corner of Connecticut.  It’s easy to do this as day hikes because there are frequent parking areas that allow easy access to the Trail.  By driving two cars and leaving one at our planned destination, we have gradually chipped away at the Connecticut portion.

The Trail winds though leaf carpeted woods along the tops of the Connecticut hills.

The Trail winds though leaf carpeted woods along the tops of the Connecticut hills.

Too ambitious when we first started to do this several years ago, we had begun at the New York border on Route 55 and planned spend the night in a tent, hoping to hike sixteen miles in the two days.  Two of our sons had decided to join us (afraid the old folks would fall off a cliff, I suppose) and we had set off, each with a 40  pound pack.  The day began well but I finished with one son carrying my pack, filled with the sobering knowledge of my true physical stamina.  For me, a goal of one mile an hour with frequent stops to snack, catch my breath and watch a bird or two became the new reality.

This tricky spot is known as Roger's Ramp.  You scuttle down between two huge boulders.

This tricky spot is known as Roger’s Ramp. You scuttle down between two huge boulders.

We have now done three stints and covered 25 miles, so with the day ahead bright and cool, we decided to hike another section, beginning where we had left off in Cornwall Bridge.  The AT itself is accessed via a mile long steep side trail known as Pine Knob Loop leading to the summit of the Knob where there is a lovely vista.  Once on the Trail itself, we found this section relatively easy going.  One hiker we met told us he had seen a large black bear ahead but we didn’t encounter him and we met few other hikers.   This late in the season we saw only one couple who, from their packs might be “through hikers” on their way to the Trail’s terminus in Georgia.  We stand aside and salute through hikers when we meet them, for their ambition and dedication puts us to shame.

The woods are full of interesting natural vignettes such as this mossy boulder crowned with Polypody Ferns.  You can understand how they get their common name of Rock Cap Fern.

The woods are full of interesting natural vignettes such as this mossy boulder crowned with Polypody Ferns. You can understand how they get their common name of Rock Cap Fern.

Our day was perfect with small jewel like spots of rocky outcroppings and tiny waterfalls, lit  by the sun filtered through golden fall foliage.  Among the birds I saw were four woodpecker species, Pileated, Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied.  We were accompanied by the dee-deeing songs of scolding Black-capped Chickadees and I saw a few other songbirds, with the most delightful sighting being a Golden-crowned Kinglet with his crest raised at me in indignation.  We got as far as West Cornwall Road, more than halfway to our 53 mile goal with our souls restored.



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