Mountain Quail Return

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on August 11, 2011

Mountain Quail (male) Oreortyx pictus, offset ...

Image via Wikipedia

My sister and I were talking about the birds, she thanked me for sharing my hummingbird “recipe”. I couldn’t believe that people actually buy that junk they sell in the store. Okay, I confess, I bought it ONCE, too, but then I learned the secret and I’ve been making my own hummingbird food ever since.

I was telling her about the Mountain Quail and mentioned that I haven’t seen them for a couple of months now. They normally come down the mountain late evenings, right about dusk. I’ve never seen just one mountain quail, they come down a dozen or so in a flock, I’ve seen as many as 20 at a time. I was so pleased to walk outside to find a flock of Mountain Quail in my yard. They are such nervous birds that whenever I head outside, they run off.

I think I’ll try to get up early tomorrow and open the blinds, maybe I’ll get to watch them for a bit. It gives me great pleasure to sit and watch the habits of all my bird friends. I have one little bird about the size of a grosbeck, maybe a tad smaller, I love to watch as he walks around the yard, using his little feet to kick up the leaves and pine needles. The bird will do that for hours at a time. Maybe he’s looking for bugs?

The little Nuthatch is another one I love to sit and watch, the noisy little birds can be seen for long periods pecking on the side of trees.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.

I have been slowly trying to educate myself and the family about birds and the wildlife in and surrounding Twain Harte. If you are interested in birds and not all that experienced, you may find this article helpful: Top 10 Ways to Get Better at Bird Identification. I am finding that watching the birds helps me to relax more and keeps me from thinking about all the noise pollution.

Just this morning, I woke up to one of my more thoughtful neighbors hammering away on something — AT 7:00 A.M. — come on now. Even though fireworks and whatnot are illegal, we still have nuts setting off firecrackers in the parking lot of the Twain Harte Market. Not a smart thing to do. It doesn’t take much of a spark to start a fire in these parts, especially this time of year.

We made a trip through Twain Harte last night to make a Post Office run and I couldn’t believe how many people were downtown. The Rock had an overflow crowd hanging out on the balcony, and most of the other restaurants appeared to be just as busy. It was a Wednesday evening, I can’t imagine what could have drawn so many people to town.

I don’t have any official numbers to post, but I can tell you that judging from my own experience there appears to be many more summer vacationers this year, but my perception could be tainted since we moved in January and I’m not as familiar with this side of town.

Do you think we have more, less or about the same number of people vacationing in the Twain Harte area this year? Tell me what you think.

 

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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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