Monday, April 25, 2011

COMPENSATION GIFT

A rather bedraggled squirrel—doubtless the very vandal who gnawed through my feeder lines last week—uses his bushy tail for an umbrella while he sits in the box elder where the well-stocked feeders once hung, and hungrily contemplates the error of his ways.    


Rain, rain, rain, heavy rain, possibly sunny, rain, rain. That's the weather prediction for the next seven days. Only worth quacking about if you're a duck. Otherwise, not exactly the sort of forecast that makes you want to bound out of bed in the morning.

Of course it rained this morning and afternoon. Most of the time not very hard, just passing bands of showers. The sun even popped out for a microsecond here and there. But after a week of similar weather already, we're getting decidedly soggy here on the riverbank. The river is up, but only a little since yesterday evening—when it was still up, but down from yesterday morning. That might only make sense to another riverbanker. During long periods of daily, or near-daily showers, the river level yo-yos by the hour—up, down, up, down, up, up, up, down, down, up. We seasoned water rats have established our personal river-level markers by which we watch to keep tabs on where we're at and which direction things are going. A glance is all it takes.   

At the moment I'm looking at a male downy woodpecker who's decided to join the chickadees and finches and eat sunflower seeds from the feeder hanging under the eave beyond my writing-room window. The poor little bird looks as though he's been whirled around in a blender—feathers either matted or sticking out every which way, like a punk-rock teenager with access to a new jar of hair gel. 


A few minutes ago a female rose-breasted grosbeak flew in for a meal. Grosbeaks are quite rare here along the river. I'm lucky if I see more than a couple per year. So on this rainy Monday, I may have just received my annual grosbeak allotment. 


Okay. I'll take that as a compensation gift for the lousy weather.
———————

18 comments:

Bonnie said...

While nature can play havoc with our lives, it certainly offers the best compensation around. Love the photograph for this post!

Grizz………… said...

Bonnie…

You've got that right! My big plans for numerous spring wildflowers junkets and morel mushroom forays have been drenched repeatedly—with no end in sight.

Not the best photo technically, as it was taken through the window while I sat eating lunch. But pretty representative of the way we riverbank denizens look and feel.

Kelly said...

hehehe...your caption under the photo of the squirrel made me chuckle. I hope the river stays down, Grizz. Yesterday Rick, Matty and i went to the river to hike. it was pretty high, but I've seen it higher. Hopefully it will behave for you! (Glad you had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak visit you. We've never had on show at our house, and I've never seen one on my walks along the river either.)

Grizz………… said...

Kelly…

I think the river will be okay through all this. The heaviest rains seems to be spaced just far enough apart to give us "breathing space" in regards to water levels. We're up from earlier today, but only by inches…and there's still several feet of bank to go.

Grosbeaks are rarely seen here. Usually only in the early spring. And for whatever reason, I've never had a male. Like you, nowhere on my walks in this corner of the state have I ever spotted one afield…yet other birders I trust, have—and some even have them visit their feeders regularly. Go figure.

ellen abbott said...

I would gladly take some of your rain.

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

I'd gladly give you the next ten days' worth! And throw in a bushel of squirrels to boot!

Jain said...

"That might only make sense to another riverbanker." Yup, yup, made perfect sense to me!

I've yet to hit my annual Grosbeak allowance; I hope I haven't looked so hard at the river that I missed him.

Hoping the forecasters are wrong and your squirrels and birds dry out.

KGMom said...

I think I have that exact same squirrel around our bird feeders--at least the umbrella tail looks familiar.

And I believe we've had very much the same weather--the rainy rainy oops a bit of sunny rainy weather. Frankly, I am sick of it. I don't usually complain about the weather (except the heat!) but this wet soggy spring has done me in.

Grizz………… said...

Jain…

Hey, I wrote that sentence with you in mind. I KNEW you'd understand!

Well, I may have just had my yearly grosbeak visit; they aren't common hereabouts, for sure. I got a couple of pretty bad through-the-window shots of this one. I was at the desk and the bird was in the feeder a foot beyond the window, which made the whole eye-to-bird distance maybe five feet, so at least I had a good look. I wish a male would show up, though.

I'm not much of a pessimist, but looking at the national map, I don't think there's any way the forecasters are mistaken about days of rain yet to come…but I'd happily be proven wrong. Hang in there, keep the rowboat tied to the back porch, and with any luck, two weeks from now you can start tilling the mud and planting your garden.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

You mean my squirrel's evil squirrel spawn has made it all the way to Pennsylvania? Wow, I'm impressed. Bad news does get around…and this busy-tailed tree rat is most definitely bad news. You have my sympathy. I hope the house survives.

You know, I'm pretty much with you on this weather business—we've indeed had enough rain already. Another week of this and local delivery rooms are going to see newborns popping out sporting webbed toes.

Tramp said...

We've had a very dry spell here; on my hike on Saturday the rivers were noticeably lower. The weather turned yesterday and we are getting some much needed rain. Cooler, wetter but for us necessary.
...Tramp

A.L. Gibson said...

Agree about the weather! You just have to take it as it comes and patiently wait for sunnier days. Enjoy your blog, hopefully the rain will quit soon so I can get back out with the camera!

Grizz………… said...

Tramp…

You make an important point—that the world is far bigger than our own backyard, country, state, region, or country. Too often we get caught up in our own little fiefdom, forgetting that what we're currently complaining about because we have too much, might be just what our neighbors over yonder are sorely lacking. Wealth, health, love…and rain, are never evenly distributed. But on a personal basis, with each, we need to try and make the best of what we receive.

It's amazing how often I need to be retaught this basic and simple lesson.

Grizz………… said...

A.L. Gibson…

First of all, welcome to the riverbank! I'm glad you found your way here and liked what you saw. Please feel free to jump right in with any comments. We're a pretty informal and friendly lot here.

BTW, I think you have a great blog yourself (http://floraofohio.blogspot.com/) and I've added its link (under "The Natural Treasures of Ohio") to my list.

As a lifelong stream smallmouth aficionado, you'd think I'd have learned to endure the vagaries of spring weather since there have been any number of past springs when day-after-day of rain has kept me off the creeks from mid-March to mid-May. But no, I not only can't fish, but getting out to take wildflower photos is just as impossible…and confound it, I KNOW what's blooming out there right now, and I don't want to miss it!

Sooner or later, however, skies will clear, the rain will cease, streams will return to normal pool, and we sodden Buckeyes can all get back into the woods and fields in search of wildflowers, warblers, and morels…and I might even entice a bronzeback or two.

Again…welcome!

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

Great picture of that pesky bedraggled squirrel. And your weather? Same as here. Are you sure you don't live just down the road? :-) And I am happy for you that you saw a rare bird - a gift indeed.

Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Carolyn H said...

I love it when squirrels use their tails as an umbrella or a hat or a sunshade. I think that's pretty clever, and it suggests they don't care for rain or cold or too much sun any more than you or I would!

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Our local records go back to 1882. According to the data, this will turn out to be the wettest April hereabouts since that record-keeping began. Which is saying something, and means this is not just mostly in my head and nothing more than April's usual rainy weather.

But the river is still keeping our pact, and things are okay. Maybe yesterday's grosbeak was a sign…

Take care. And enjoy every moment outside you get.

Grizz………… said...

Carolyn…

You're absolutely right. And the scary part is that says squirrels are probably smarter than we think—though I expect most creatures are smarter than we give them credit.

Incidentally, in addition to umbrella, hat, and sunshade, I'm sure you know squirrels also use that busy tail as a fluffy blanket. And because I kept a pair of pet gray squirrels for several years during my teenage years, I can tell you they will employ their tail to cover their face—sort of like a shield or built-in blind—when investigating some object they're trying to get closer to but are scared by, which to a nervous squirrel, is practically anything they're not entirely familiar around. I guess they figure if they're hidden behind those long gray tailhairs, whatever they're sneaking up on can't see them. This behavior used to crack me up every time.