Wildlife, weather and chatter

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Opinion, Outdoors, Twain Harte News on July 18, 2011

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for our family. With the loss of our beloved feline companion and the death of a beautiful buck in our yard, along with a few other setbacks, our entire family seems to be walking around in a stupor. It can be difficult to pick up the pieces and move on after a loss.

I’ve been enjoying our birds — what a terrific distraction from lifes troubles and cares. I’ve added a couple more hummingbird feeders, bringing the total to 5. I noticed yesterday we have quite a few young ones visiting the feeders. I’ve spaced them apart so that the hummers have better access — as you probably know, they simply love to fight and competition at the feeder can be fierce.

During the winter months, the larger hummingbird feeders are preferred since they don’t have to be refilled so often but during the summer months, I use the smaller feeders (and only fill the larger ones partially), between the ants and the heat, it works out better to clean and refill them more often.

Bird Snack Recipe

I made a nice peanut butter mixture for the birds. I used 1 cup of peanut butter added to 1 cup of millet, mixed in a couple tablespoons of molasses and 1/4 cup of rolled oats. I managed to scoop it into the suet feeder. The birds gobbled it up. We now have a wide variety of birds visiting the feeders daily.

The new green metal bird house has turned out to be a wise purchase. Not only has it held up well, but the squirrels can’t get to the black oil sunflower seeds. The hood closes up if anything heavy attempts to get at the seed.

I stopped tossing peanuts out for the Stellar Jays in a location near the bird feeders since they bully the smaller birds and won’t allow them to eat. Also, the jays are forced to stand on the side of the feeder in order to get at the seeds because they are too big for them.  By tossing the peanuts in another direction it keeps them away from the feeders, so the smaller grosbeak, nuthatches and other little birds can still eat.

The new bird house holds a lot of black oil sunflower seeds, so I don’t have to refill it quite so often — even so, they can empty it entirely in about 4-days. I hope they slow down soon, at the rate they are eating it up, I’m not certain how much longer we can afford to keep this up but it is such a joy to step out onto the deck in the predawn hours and hear the birds melodious sounds breaking the early morning silence.

Weather Report

This entire past week the weather has been unseasonably cool for this time of year. The high for the past two days has been in the low 70’s. Vacationers will want to remember to bring along a spare jacket or two, as the evening and overnight temperatures can dip down quite low. It’s currently 62.

Deer Update

I am pleased to report that along with a couple of does, who regularly stop by to eat a few weeds from our yard and grab a drink of water, I finally had a young buck come by for a short visit during the early pre-dawn hours on Sunday morning. I was afraid this buck might have come to harm as well. He is such a beautiful creature. It’s a joy to watch him wander through the woods so graceful and alert. We appear to have had a bumper crop of does this year but bucks don’t seem to be nearly as numerous.

When you are driving here in the mountains, please remember to slow down and watch for wildlife. You might be amazed at what you will see, if you are looking. Have you seen a red fox lately? A bobcat? How about a chocolate brown bear? They are beautiful creatures too.

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Here’s to Dad

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Posted by Annie in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on June 19, 2011

Stellars JayJudging from the sounds traveling through the air and reports from family members who celebrated Father’s Day in Sugar Pine, Twain Harte was a happening place this weekend. Friday and Saturday evening brought a night air heavy with live music, laughing and chatter, which echoed off the surrounding mountains.

The grandparents reported bumper to bumper traffic traveling in both directions on Highway 108 from the valley. It was a beautiful day here in Twain Harte, we had lots of sunshine and a nice cool breeze rustling through the trees.

The birds are everywhere and the most adorable baby birds are emerging from their nests and exploring their surroundings. I was outside earlier today around 9 a.m. and the tree just outside the kitchen window was full of tiny little birds flitting here and there, singing their little hearts out.

I’m not having a great deal of success getting pictures though. I guess I’m just not patient enough and the birds are Nervous Nellies, which doesn’t help either. I still have only identified about half of our avian visitors.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the turkey had returned this morning around 11 a.m.; but startled to find that he had made himself right at home and was resting on our deck — not the deck rail — but actually laying down on the deck, and he didn’t even flinch when I came bustling out the back door. He didn’t move a muscle until the cat came within a foot of him and he decided “cat” was on the menu.

I was a little concerned but the cat just meandered around on the deck, jumped up on the rail and stayed just out of react of the turkey, as if to taunt him further.

The racoons are out too. The ones behind our house were huge. They are pesky little varmints that get into everything and make terrible messes. When we lived downtown, we would see them walking right down the middle of the street. Meanwhile, the deer would congregate just past the island in front of 7-11 as if they were pooling their money for a 6-pack of beer. Occasionally, you’d see some nice bucks in the crowd.

Hope ya’ll had a Happy Father’s Day. My son is so lucky, he has an incredible dad. They had a wonderful day.

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Finally, Sunshine!

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Posted by Annie in Opinion on June 7, 2011

Twain Harte Lake

Who can believe it but today, finally — the sun is shining here in Twain Harte, the air feels fresh and clean.

It’s 62° outside, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call it warm out but it feels nice. There is still time to get outside for an hour or two. Why not take a short walk. Let the sunshine warm your bones.

Bring your jacket and some sturdy shoes, as things are still a little wet outside and if you pay attention, while you walk, you won’t be able to help finding things to explore just off the beaten path.

The birds are loving the warmer weather. I caught a couple of hummingbirds playing a game of tag earlier. They looked so happy, I was sorry I had disturbed them. I plan to start an online scrapbook, with pictures of all the birds I find (with labels of course). I keep forgetting their names. [Learn more about hummingbirds.]

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