Have I mentioned before that it never fails: don't take the camera out, and you will find all sorts of stuff to photograph! This morning it was a dusting of snow in the early sunlight with just a touch of fog - very ethereal. And then...and then! Then there was the VERY interesting "track" in the snow - a tussle of birds. I could see wing, feet and tail prints, the overall pattern forming a sweeping circle. Did a raptor come swooping down and swipe a house sparrow or a starling? No idea...sure wish I had gotten a photo of it. >sigh<
So, instead, we have some sounds to report (don't need a camera for that).
It begins last week. It was early evening - the sky still light - and hark! A lone sandhill crane was kronking as it flew over the withered soybean fields and off to the nearby pond. Cranes aren't usually solo birds. Reports are now coming in from all over of the cranes returning...spring is on its way.
A couple nights later, T and I were out for our final walk of the day, well after dark, when up from the flattened grasses along the shoulder of the road we heard a definite chirping sound. Wrong time of day for it to be a bird, I thought, but perhaps it was an injured bird, hit by a vehicle whizzing by (they go so fast down this road). I stopped and listened and played the beam of the flashlight across the grasses. No bird. The chirping continued, and the grass started to bump. Out from the edge a short-tailed shrew emerged! Only one other time have I heard "singing" from a small mammal (possibly another shrew - I never saw it). I gently put my foot in front of this fellow's face to steer him off the road. Even though traffic was non-existent at the moment, a car or truck could come zooming by at any moment. I thought for sure the animal would try to bite my boot, for short-tailed shrews have rather ferocious reputations (and venomous saliva, just in case you didn't know - enough to take down a house cat, according to my college professor), but it just sat there, eventually turning around and wandering back into the grasses.
Yesterday morning, my backyard was alive with nine million bluebird, all vying for a chance to check out the two nest boxes that are still up along the fence (wind storm took out the third). Okay, perhaps it wasn't quite nine million...perhaps it was only 15 or 20 birds, but it sure seemed like millions! I'll have to get the rest of my boxes in proper order, make some repairs, then put some posts in the ground and get them up.
Finally, we come to this morning: a red-winged blackbird was calling from the old oak up the road. It's flippin' FEBRUARY and the red-wings are coming back through already?!?! Strange, strange seasons here in southern Michigan (which, by the way, may be getting upwards of 7" of snow tonight).