By Jack McShane
Spring has arrived at Bussey Hollow as has the rain, wind and otherwise great weather. I did not shoot a turkey this year as it seemed that I knew them all intimately with their varied personalities as they fed at the bird feeder. The feeder has since been taken down by a bear numerous times and eventually by me permanently for the summer. The pair of Canada geese that nest annually on an island in the upper pond produced four goslings that hung around for two days and then the whole family vanished, where to or for what reason I have no idea. There is a pair of killdeer hanging around the access road on the side where Marty Liddle will seed the field with corn. As I traverse this road on the tractor I worry that I will run over their eggs. They are very hard to spot as killdeer do not build nests but place their eggs on pebbly patches. I can only keep my fingers crossed.
I saw a very interesting sight when driving down our road a few days ago. A sharp-shinned hawk (sometimes called a pigeon hawk) had a blue jay pinned to the ground right in the middle of the road with another (the mate?) blue jay in full attack mode. As I approached, the attacking jay fled and the hawk, with its still flapping meal in its talons, was off into the woods. A good day for the hawk and a rather poor one for the blue jay. While thinking of raptors, it seems that the bald eagles that normally nest on the Dingle Hill bend on Route 30 were not successful this year as there has been no sign of them for weeks. I guess this should be considered a non-sighting.
There do seem to be fewer deer around, a situation which will not last long, as a number of does appear to be carrying more than a single fawn. Time will tell. They will be dropping their fawns at the end of May and the beginning of June if they were bred in their first estrus cycle. Reminder: If you happen to come across a fawn, leave it alone. It is not abandoned as the doe only comes by to nurse and then leaves so as not to attract predators. New-born fawns are scent free.
I am happy to report that there are a number of brown bats which have returned to their favored roost between the beams in our breezeway. Although Nancy is not happy with their defecations littering the floor, I am happy with their presence as they are an important cog in the wheel of our ecosystem. Getting up close and personal, I noted gladly that they had no sign of what is called “white nose syndrome”. White nose syndrome is a fungus that is impacting and killing large numbers of bats of many species up and down the whole East Coast. Researchers have not been able to determine the cause of the disease at this time.
Finally, two sightings with only one landing. One beautiful, calm evening as I was sitting on our porch enjoying a glass of cabernet and a good cigar, a pair of mallards flying overhead, started quacking, circled and dropped down into our lower pond. Great, nice show. Of course, we have no dearth of mallards. I was hoping for wood ducks, as we have not had a nesting pair in many years despite the twenty wood duck houses I hand-built and our numerous ponds. Woodies are cavity nesters and usually are very amenable to using human-fabricated homes. As I was lamenting this long time refusal to accept our open hospitality, sure enough, a pair flew over, circled twice, refused to land and then disappeared over the horizon. Back to the cabernet!~