Range Update

DSCN2764I’d never seen a bluebird up close until moving to the Missouri Compromise. There are a lot of them around. They’ve got a nice sound.  They seem like the kinder, gentler cousin to the robin.

As I mentioned in the Home on the Range post, there was a nest in the gourd hanging in the front of the house. I was enjoying watching them feed their young.

Then we got the storm. Or, I should say, another storm.  Some storms cause flooding and some don’t.  Since we are on high ground, the flooding doesn’t affect us, but the storms sure do.  Climate change, of course, is causing them to become more intense.

After this storm, I noticed that the bluebird activity stopped. We got the ladder out and checked the gourd. Unfortunately, the smell announced what the cleaning of the gourd confirmed; all four nestlings were dead. There is a drainage hole in the gourd, but the nest material was so tightly packed in there, that I think the water just couldn’t drain.

Not one monarch caterpillar survived the storm, either. I’ve been checking the milkweed ever since, hoping to see eggs or anything. Nope. All gone.

I have seen Mitch, though. Mitch is a three toed box turtle that lives in our woods. I’ve seen he and another box turtle that is has a drab shell, so I’m going to guess that the males are the more brightly colored of the two. I love these critters!  Mr. Nobody thinks he saw an alligator snapping turtle recently as well.  I think they are endangered and wish I had seen it.  But isn’t Mitch just a cutie? The other box turtle made an appearance, too, so I included her.


DSCN2790Haven’t spotted the ribbon snake lately and that is okay by me. I did see this guy hanging around the front door. It took a lot of encouraging with a broom to get it to move away. I remain in awe of the size of these.


DSCN2782Butterflies are still fluttering around. They are difficult to photograph, but I got these pictures.



I like the frogs and toads around the property as well.  They come in many colors  and sizes and species.  I think both of these are tree toads, but I could be wrong.

DSCN2793DSCN2798It’s not a regular occurrence, but on occasion, a bird finds its way into the chimney and thus the wood stove. Recently, a male bluebird found itself stuck. The two indoor cats were thrilled with the show, sitting in front of the stove and watching the bird throw itself at the glass. As I was attempting to free it, it flew out and landed at Spooky’s feet. Fortunately, Spooky was just a startled as the bluebird, because I was able to grab the bird and release it.

Then I got some little nets from the pet store, as backup, just in case.

And today, a female bluebird flew into the chimney and down into the stove. I whipped out my net, caught it neatly, and released it with much less drama. I’m so proud of myself!

I’ve seen the wood thrush as well, finally, although it was sad. Both a Swainson’s Thrush and a wood thrush hit the glass windows and fell to the ground, thoroughly stunned. In both cases, Mr. Nobody picked the birds up and set them on top of our big ass Compostumbler. It’s high enough and awkward enough to dissuade Buddy from attempting to jump it. In both cases, the birds left, apparently under their own power. I always worry about internal injuries to the birds that hit the windows that hard and it happens more than I would like.  Last year, a bluebird was deliberately throwing itself into two specific windows (I also see them attacking the mirror on Godzilla, Mr. Nobody’s vehicle) and I tried soaping them up but that didn’t deter them.

Aggressive bluebirds are maybe a nice problem to have.  I sure like having them and all of the other birds around.  I think there is one lone whip-poor-wil in the woods nearby.  It moves around a bit, but there can’t be only one, right?  The pileated woodie and red bellies are still around and making their presence known.  Chickadees seem scarce this year, but I finally saw and heard one the other day.  Cardinals are nesting somewhere near the house, along with robins, phoebes, and other birds.  I can hear them feeding their young.  I like that sound too.

The little annoyances are in full swing as well.  Have pulled some ticks off of me already and have some mosquito bites as well.  They like me, they really like me!  So I’ve been experimenting with homemade bug repellents and weed killers.  The weed killer recipe is vinegar and a shot of Dawn detergent into a garden sprayer.  Doesn’t hurt the locals, tastes bad to the pets, and does a so-so job on actually killing the weeds.

The bug repellent is a bit more problematic in that it contains epsom salts and you really don’t want to spray that anywhere you want to grow anything, ever.  I’ve only used it in the lanai.  The lanai is just a screened area by the pool, but wasps, flies, spiders, etc were still finding their way in.  I tried diatomaceous earth first, laying it down along all of the walls.  Results weren’t good.

So, this spray.  Found it on the internet, promoted by none other than Paul Harvey; a mixture of epsom salts, beer and mouthwash.  Put it in a garden sprayer and sprayed the whole deck floor, all the corners, etc.  It’s supposed to last for 80 days.  So far, I’m pretty impressed.  It’s been over a week and only one little spider to be seen.  Wasps are gone.  At first, I was worried about it staining the composite deck, because I could see spray marks.  But those faded quickly and are gone.

Haven’t put much into the garden, but everything that was planted is doing well, so far.  Radish, lettuce, beans, onions and carrots are growing.  Still need some tomatoes and a few other things.






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