It has been a most interesting summer on the Eastern Shore with things happening beyond our control and yet making it one spectacular place to be this year. It’s been quite a while since there’s been a summer this interesting.
Speaking of summer, where was it? After the very serious, no holds barred, cold of this past winter, with more snow, ice and below freezing temperatures than I can ever remember, spring finally came in all her glory. Which, of course, led us straight into the summer months. But where WAS summer?
It sure wasn’t the summer like we’ve always had out here before in our little neck of the woods. Usually, by late May we are already in the 90’s with heat indexes about and beyond 100. One of those situations where you take a cold shower, dry off, only to find yourself wet all over again. Humidity will kill you! The heat is hot but the combined humidity makes you think you’re trying to breathe under the water. Awful, terrible and this is where I’ve lived most of my life, and it gets worse with each passing summer, except this past one.
Temperatures in the 80’s, for the most part, still with humidity but the heat indexes usually didn’t call for watches or warnings. So what’s up with the weather? Better yet, since it stayed like this most of the summer, who’s complaining? Certainly not I. Mother Nature had to be giving us a break after pounding us so hard over the winter. I LOVE winter but I can say in all honestly that I was SO glad to see it go this time.
So summer comes, which brings the critters. First on the list are the birds. I started with one feeder and ended up with about fifteen. Apparently, every flying friend in the neighborhood, to include family, friends and frenemies had discovered that the little, silver Gypsy was the place for free food. There were birds I’d never seen before so I began looking them up. At the beginning, they would disrespect each other to see who would be the head honcho but that soon ended as the feeders increased in number. Eventually, they all began to get along, for the most part. When one, two or three vacated the feeder, two, three or four more would show up in it’s place. It was non-stop birds. That’s not including the hummingbirds that showed up for their own special treat, complete with organic sugar and no food coloring.
They were spoiled to the max, no doubt about it, and I enjoyed filling the feeders every day just so I could spend endless moments of precious time watching them. They were most interesting to watch and observe. I remember it took a Blue Jay about three days before he ever made it to the feeder. He’d hang back on the pear tree, then he’d come closer, to the cedar tree (which was always full of birds waiting their turn). One day, he came right up to the feeder and that was it. He was hooked. But he was still a little skittish.
I found that birds are not the only one’s of God’s creatures that like a free meal. I woke up several mornings with the feeder dumped over, all the food out, or the feeder pulled to the ground. The weirdest of all was the first time, when the feeder was just gone. Poof. Just like that. I couldn’t find it anywhere and thought a bear had made off with my feeder! I walked all around the yard, looking for the feeder, looking for bear tracks or scat or anything that would lead me towards what had happed to the feeder. Nothing. Nada. Until I walked back towards Gypsy. There, on the canopy above where the feeder hung, was the feeder with all the seed dumped on the canopy. Oh my gosh! A bear was that close?
Thump, thump, thump went my heart. Still, there was nothing anywhere to indicate that a bear had visited during the night although I knew that was a real possibility because the woods around Gypsy is full of wildlife. There’s a big cat that lives in the woods and when he/she goes off in the middle of the night, it wakes me up and I’m already halfway through the process of making a new ‘doorway’ through the aluminum roof of the camper! I speak truth here!!!
So this feeder dumping/disappearing act continued for a few nights until I wised up a little. Not to mention that Hershey, the Unwonder dog that should be on high alert was dead to the world under the covers. Now why didn’t he wake up and alert me and go out and take care of whatever was out there? After almost 7 years together, he’s just the pet, just like those spoiled birds out there. But a Nanny’s got to do what a Nanny’s got to do and Nanny had a great idea, she hoped.
I love a bungee cord, almost as good as I like duct tape. They are both so handy but the bungee cord was going to be the weapon of choice. Oh, did I also mention that I feed the neighborhood cats as well as the birds and whatever the “other wildlife” is, and also have quite a few wind chimes? More chimes than what I had bird feeders but this ‘rascal’ was only after one particular feeder so I was going to ‘play with him’ and see what he/she/it would do.
Nanny put her plan in action. First, all the feeders are scattered around in various locations around Gypsy but there was a particular one this critter liked a lot. It happened to be the one I could see from the couch window. I had a hummingbird feeder and a birdseed feeder in view from the window and these were the only two I could see from inside. Well, it was time to do a little rearranging and figure this out. I moved the hummingbird feeder closer to the canopy pole and the regular feeder closer to the walkway into the house as I had a decorative pole there which I kept Hershey’s walking lead on. I also had a six foot leash that I was going to put to good use. Then, I moved the biggest of the wind chimes, the BIG one that booms when it hits the center part. I mean boom’s loud enough you can’t miss it and it will wake you up. That was not the original location but for the purpose of this experiment, it was the new home.
Everything was set. Whatever it was that was visiting had so far appeared on a nightly basis, and my curiosity was at an all time high. Planning went well and everything was set. All I had to do was wait until nightfall and for the birds to quit singing for the day.
When that happened, I hooked one end of the bungee cord to the feeder stand and the other end to the decorate pole by the door. The I hooked the leash to the feeder stand also and tied it tight to the pole. Chimes were set to go off when whatever it was stepped on the canopy or reached out to grab said feeder.
Our night carried on as usual and finally Hershey had knocked out for the night and I soon followed.
Mere seconds later, or so it seemed to me, the booming wind chimes started going off! My first thought was not so nice so I won’t say but Hershey sure did wake his little butt up and put himself in full action mode, meaning he was barking his head off while starring out the window from which he couldn’t see anything but night. I, however, jumped up, flipped both switches for the outdoor lights and had the shock of my life, then my laughing hysterically button turned over.
Good grief, it was a raccoon! Possibly the fattest raccoon I’d ever seen, especially since he’d been eating my birds foods for quite a while now! He was caught red-handed, right in the act. Hanging upside down on these legs, the fourth had a hold of the bird feeder the was trying so hard to get down and it wouldn’t budge an inch! I was laughing, Hershey was growling and barking and the Birdseed Bandit raccoon was righting himself as we speak to make a quick getaway. He took himself to the end of the canopy, past the wind chimes again, and crawled DOWN the canopy pole, easing down from there into the darkness, making a quick getaway. Me? I had my broom in hand, yelling at the fella, telling him to leave my bird feeders alone! Yea, I’m sure we woke the neighbors.
Oh lord, I laughed so hard and so much! I wondered if he would be back? I certainly didn’t need to wonder about that any because he did, frequently, at various times during the night and, on some nights, he would try two or three times!
All of this continued until the farmers started picking their corn crops. Everybody left; the birds, the raccoon, even the possums that would show up occasionally. Gone, not to return, or they haven’t yet. A few birds have made an appearance but it looks like the farmers have me beat when it comes to the free food department.
Either way, it’s been quite an enjoyable summer with many good experiences.