Spring teaser complete

This morning I headed out to the lake to try to find some ducks before they all fly back north. A week ago Lake Champlain was frozen over–ice from Vermont to New York. Then it warmed up, and then it rained. There is still plenty of ice. Yesterday I tried to find ducks at the ferry landing. I couldn’t see any open water at all. Wind had blown ice into the cove, filling it right up. Today I tried again and found my ducks.

At Shelburne Farms there was some water. Bald Eagles rested by it, standing on the ice. A crow picked at something out there. Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead and Scaups swam and dove. Farther up the road, water stretched along the shore. Binoculars brought all those ducks closer. I guess there are fish and mussels to feed them down in that cold water. It won’t be long before they fly away to nest.

Closer to home, the river has dropped. The temperature sank into the 20s last night. All that sitting water in the fields turned to ice. A dusting of snow covers it still. On the shore, big frozen slabs. Once the water level fell they could no longer float, like boulders left behind by a glacier. They will likely sit there until spring turns them back to liquid.

Mud still seeps up on the trails. Soon we will have to stop walking on them. They are solid, for the most part, right now. They make for smooth and easy walking. Once the ice all melts, and the ground as well, the trails will be mush. In May, warblers like to sing on one particular stretch of trail. To find them I sometimes have to get wet. Or wait.

Winter is here today. This morning, my son was ruing the loss of spring. I tried to remind him that it is still winter, that those warm days were a bonus. Celebrate warm spring-like days when it is winter, don’t bemoan winter when spring’s time has not yet come. But the sun is higher. The days are longer. Phoebes will soon be singing. They will sing for the ducks as they fly overhead.

Critters in the Garage

 

Phoebe Chick

Phoebe Chick

A little too long ago our garage door busted.  One of the cables snapped so only one side gets pulled when it operates.  I say “a little too long ago” because we still haven’t fixed it.  We just leave it up or down for a while.  Often the car isn’t in the bay.  I also say “a little too long ago” since the door busted because it froze to the floor.  We haven’t had ice in a while.

But whatevs.  This is about critters.  The ones in the garage.  The reason they get in is because the door is open.  A squirrel managed to find a home in there.  I don’t know it is actually living in the garage, but it sure likes hanging out in there.  It has recently discovered how wonderful the garbage bags are.  “Get a load of these things,” I imagine it pondered. “They are filled with plastic packaging, some of which has slight amounts of food residue stuck to it;  I think I’ll gnaw large holes in the bag so I can lick the salsa jar lid.”  Our food waste goes into the compost so there isn’t much for a squirrel to snack upon.  But that doesn’t stop it.

Yesterday I started moving our wood from one wall to another.  This seems to bother the squirrel.  Hey, squirrel, chill.  This isn’t your wood.  Clean up the mess you made with the garbage and maybe I’ll let you hang around.  Until then, you can find a tree.  And by the way, stop licking the grill.  Just because I’m lazy doesn’t give you license to lick that either.  I think that once I move the wood, the squirrel will just move into that pile.  We need to get that door fixed.

Once spring began we also had a phoebe family move in.  It made a nest in the rafters.  This meant we had to leave the door open so it could get out.  And in.  Then it had some chicks.  The other day, the chicks fledged.  One of the chicks was hanging out on the garage floor.  It left the nest but hadn’t quite figured out how to fly yet.  It was there for a while.  After dark it was gone.  I hope it didn’t get snacked upon by some noctural predator.  Especially after leaving the door open that whole time.  It was cute, that baby bird.  I guess that made up for its parents crapping all over the cars and the lawnmower and firewood.  And the garbage bags.

The phoebes have left, now that the chicks are off to better things.  Now they hang out in the birch tree outside my son’s window, keeping him up late and waking him up early.  At least they are out of the garage.  Now I just need to convince the squirrel to take a hike.  Once I stop being lazy, and decide that paying for someone to fix the door is a priority, it will be easier to keep out the critters.  I guess I’ll have to live with the squirrel until then.  At least it isn’t in the house.  With my record of door fixing procrastination, let’s hope the front door stays intact.

Phoebe in the Garage

A couple of months ago our garage door broke. Well, the door itself didn’t break. The door got frozen to the ground (snow melted, water ran under the door, water froze) and then we tried to open it. It was a simple yet dumb mistake. One of the cables on the door opener snapped. It can still marginally operate, albeit unsafely, with one cable, but lately we have just left it open.

Lately means the last month. This has made things easier in some ways. We don’t need to worry about the other cable snapping while we take our time actually getting the thing fixed, for example. But it has created a couple problems as well.

The first problem is the trash. We don’t generate all that much trash. We recycle or compost most things. Our trash consists mainly of plastic packaging. But some stinky stuff gets in there. It isn’t much but it is enough, apparently, to attract some critters. I found the small bag I placed in the garage a week and a half ago torn asunder yesterday. Some critter decided it was worth rumaging through the plastic packaging to lick the residue.

The second problem is the phobe. I like phoebes. They are one sure sign of spring and their songs always make me smile. I heard one this morning and its call seemed to echo more than usual. It sounded quite lovely, actually. It echoed, however, because the bird was in the garage. It flitted among the rafters but it didn’t seem to want to leave.

It was still there this afternoon. Or at least it was back this afternoon. It sort of freaked out my daughter at first but then she thought it was cool. A bird in the garage! What a treat. Again, it didn’t want to leave, despite the wide open door. My fear is that it will build a nest and then we will get the door fixed (not that we have been exactly hasty in making that happen) and it will have a tough time with the in and out of things and it will have chicks and they will all die of starvation because mom can’t bring it any bugs.

Poor chicks. OK, there aren’t any chicks yet. I saw no signs of a nest. But it could happen, right? I suppose even it that scenario really played out the phoebe mother could poke through the trash for what it might find to feed the youngsters. That might work.

We don’t have a third problem yet. At least not that I am aware of. But that could happen, too. We should get the door fixed and we should get a trash bin and we should stop buying things with so much plastic packaging. Save the phoebes!

At least we are saving electricity by not using the garage door opener. That’s something isn’t it. Plus, we get to see the phoebe up close, even it we are about to slay its offspring by fixing something we should have repaired months ago.