nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘in the grey woods’ Category

Waiting for wild life to pass by

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Back in our Grey Woods is a tiny ‘park’. Just an area I try to keep clean of dead-falls. Years ago, my Mom loved this little area. She found ‘ghost pipe’, also called ‘Indian pipe’ (Monotropa uniflora), growing there. These are parasitic plants without chlorophyll. They are small, less than 20 cm high. The ‘pipe’ is an excellent descriptor since a plant consists of a nodding head on a slender stem.

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My Mom tried to protect these uncommon plants from trampling by putting shingles in the ground to mark the location.

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The ghost pipes no longer grow there. The shingles have rotted and disappeared. Change is inevitable and in this little park, change is likely related to nutrient conditions. My Mom is also gone but I keep the little park to remember the day she tried to save the ghost pipe.

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One addition I made to the area is a small bird feeder. I installed the feeder on an old red maple tree. The feeder is painted iron, moulded in the form of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis lived in Italy at the turn of the thirteenth century and is known for his love of animals and the natural environment. He believed nature was the mirror of God and the animals were his brothers and sisters. He even preached to the birds (Source: Wikipedia).

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ghost pipe

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in grey woods

Saint Francis

cast in iron

watches wild

life pass by

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red squirrel

ceaseless motion

white-tailed deer

pauses, listens

a chipmunk

runs the log

fallen tree

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time also

passes by

Aralia

and bracken

replace white

ghost pipe, once

grew here, all

nature a mirror

of our lives

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

Pileated Woodpecker excavations

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The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a common visitor in our yard. The size of the woodpecker and its triangular red crest are impossible to miss. The male also has a red stripe on the side of its face.

There is a big spruce tree in our grey woods where the Pileated Woodpecker loves to visit. The hole in the tree and the pile of woodchips below the hole say this woodpecker has been very busy.  The woodpeckers drill these holes to get insects.

On a drive to see the Smyth Covered Bridge near Hoyt, New Brunswick, we found a roadside tree with evidence of the Pileated Woodpecker’s industry.  The holes are almost a foot in length and deep enough to hide a hand.

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To humans, the best forests may seem to be woods with healthy trees. To provide good habitat for the Pileated Woodpecker, a forest should have lots of dead and fallen trees, to provide food and nesting sites.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2018 at 7:06 am

spaces underground – a wasp nest

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Not far from where I sit-for-a-bit on my walk in our woods, I found a nest of wasps. Built underground, beneath the roots of a spruce tree, this nest has been revealed by some digging marauder (a skunk or raccoon) trying to get at the wasp larvae.  The nest is interesting to watch, but caution is necessary.

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When I found the nest, I took a little time to learn the difference between wasps and hornets. Hornets build their nests above ground and are larger, with black and white striped bodies. Wasps sometimes build nests underground and are small (1-2.5 cm), with black and yellow striped bodies. The insects in the underground nest are definitely wasps.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

August 28, 2017 at 7:06 am

pink lady’s slipper

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This time of year, my husband does an inventory of the Pink Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) on our property.

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This year, he found 10. He only saw three last year but there have been as many as 15 in bloom at one time. We never pick them and try to keep our property natural and wooded.

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The Pink Lady’s Slipper prefers acidic soil and partly shady conditions, making our grey woods an ideal habitat. Our flowers are often a pale pink or white variety.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

Written by jane tims

June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

woodpeckers in the grey woods

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If you are new to my site, you might not know that we call the woods behind our house ‘the grey woods’. The woods are mainly balsam fir and black spruce, with grey birch and red maple. Here is a map of our property (about 19 acres).

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Woodpeckers are a common bird in the grey woods. We have Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), Hairy Woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus villosus), and Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens). The woodpeckers love the older trees in the woods. They also peck at our wood-shingled house!

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Here is a Hairy Woodpecker hard at work in a balsam fir. He is hard to tell from the Downy Woodpecker (especially when you can’t see his beak) but the Hairy woodpecker is larger (about the size of a Robin) and sometimes his red cap is divided into two parts (seen clearly in this photo).

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 29, 2017 at 7:32 am

morning birdcalls – Northern Parula

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After a hot day, a cool night. This morning, our windows are wide open and a Northern Parula is busy in our grey woods.

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His distinctive call – ‘whirrrr-zip’ – has an upward lilt at the end. I can catch only a glimpse of him, certainly not long enough for a photograph.

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The Northern Parula is a small warbler with a bright orangy-yellow upper breast. He builds his nests of Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea spp.) – there is lots of this lichen hanging from the trees in our grey woods, so of course he is here!  This is a watercolour I did of him last year.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

flutter song

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A well-known space can be transformed in an instant.

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Every day I walk the path from our front door. Our bird feeders are right there, beside the path. Usually the opening door sends the birds scattering. They fly into the trees around our yard and twitter and chirp until I go.

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But last week, just after a new fall of snow, I had a magical experience of being in the midst of the feeding birds. And for whatever reason, they paid no attention to me at all.

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The birds, mostly chickadees and goldfinches, whistle and tweet as they feed. But the prevailing sound as I stood among them was the fluttering and whirring of wings all around me.

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We have other visitors at the feeders, mostly a couple of cat-sized grey squirrels and a family of red squirrels, the descendants of the squirrels that moved in to take advantage of the feeders when we first moved here 37 years ago. The spaces around the feeder vary, depending on whether birds or squirrels are the dominant visitors. It was fun, just for a moment, being part of all the activity!

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

January 27, 2017 at 10:27 pm

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