Solitude

the lovely peace of solitude 

in the woods 

i find the lovely peace of solitude

where the only sounds i hear

are the chirp of birds…

the rustle of wings in the undergrowth…

the forage of squirrels in dry leaves…

and the occasional trickle of water

i follow a stream that parallels the trail…

leading to a wide creek and on to an expansive river…

the sun, so strong for November, 

warms my skin,

reaches its apex, then begins a slow steady descent,

casting long shadows across the leaf littered floor 

most leaves have fallen,

only the rich yellow-bronze of the beech cling tightly to their branches…

vibrant against the smooth, gray,

graffiti laden bark

i follow the creek…

a watery ribbon of reflected color,

until the trail snakes away

into the deepening woods

there is solace in these woods

and i cherish every step,

planting my boots firmly in the mud 

to leave an impression…

evidence that I was here,

along with the footprints of 

many kindred spirits

Sylvia L. Mattingly November 9, 2020

Late Migrations

Monday Book Review

“Late Migrations” by Margaret Renkl

This is another book borrowed from a friend, that I would not have chosen to buy, but which I thoroughly enjoyed. I keep wanting to call this a “feel good” book, but then I recall that it contained some painful stories of disappointment and loss.  Somehow the author manages to make these comforting along with all her accounts of kids, birds, and butterflies.

“Late Migrations” is a compilation of short stories and that makes it easy to pick up and put down at leisure. I recommend this book which is filled with love.

Margaret Renkl is an opinion writer for The New York Times where her essays appear weekly.

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EPA

Please read this post from January 2019:         https://crookedcreek.live/2019/01/23/pollinators/

Here we are sixteen months later and the EPA has finally begun to acknowledge what research has shown for years: that neonic pesticides pose serious risks to bees, birds, other wildlife — and even human health. But, rather than taking sweeping measures to crack down on neonics, the EPA is pushing to continue allowing widespread neonic use all over the country, including on food crops.

Bees in particular, are necessary for successful food crops and their numbers have been reduced by over 90% in large part by the neonic products listed in the above referenced post. During the current corona virus pandemic many are worried about our food supply chain. We need to be more aware and concerned about how the lack of pollinators and neonic use will affect our agriculture in the future.

What Can We Do?

  • We can plant flowers for the pollinators
  • We can refrain from the use of insecticides
  • We can contact the EPA and complain about their lack meaningful action
  • We can call our US Representatives and Senators’ offices and express our concern about the EPA’s inaction

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Source: NRDC

 

 

Where Would You Go?

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I love to write but once in a while, I seem to slow down to the point of having nothing to say. I’ve told other bloggers that I do not like to use writing prompts for my blog, but I’ve recently changed my mind. My Granddaughter gave me a book entitled “300 More Writing Prompts” and I’ve found some ideas to use here on Crooked Creek. I’d always seen these writing helps as places to write my private thoughts, but this book has prompts that spurred me to share some ideas with you.

The prompt I chose for today is “If you could book a flight for anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” I required no time to think about an answer: the Galapagos Islands is where I would go. If I had a bucket list this would be on it. There are animals, fish, birds, and plants there that exist in no other spot on the planet.

It is a group of islands in the Pacific around the equator. Ninety-seven percent of the islands is designated as a National Park and therefore protected. In the past, some non-native species have been introduced which upset the natural habitat, but Ecuador’s measures to protect wildlife should prevent recurrences.

Where Would You Go?

“If you could book a flight for anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?”

 

Nature photos by Pixabay

A Bird Emergency

We are bombarded with data and sometimes I believe we become indifferent toward predictions and warnings. When it comes to the loss of birds in our environment we do so at our peril. “Birds are important indicator species because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people, too,” according to Brooke Bateman, a senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society.

We learned earlier this year that North America has already lost one-third of its bird population. For bird-lovers this is tragic and the future looks grimmer. New data points toward an even more frightening future. Audubon scientists studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million bird records from the US, Canada, and Mexico. The results of that study revealed that by 2021 two-thirds of America’s birds will be threatened with extinction if temperatures rise by 5.4 degrees.

Birds on this planet are like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. They can only warn us. It is up to us limit greenhouse gases and to see to it that our government protects the environment before it is too late.

Photos by Pixabay

Baby Birds

Helping Baby Birds

First, it is important to know it is illegal to injure or possess an indigenous bird. There are special facilities such as Raptor Rehab licensed to rehabilitate injured birds, but most veterinarians do not have the resources nor experience to handle injured wild birds.

When birds first leave the nest they are not fully able to fly and spend two or three days on or near the ground. Pet owners need to keep cats and dogs indoors during these sensitive nesting times.

What to do if you find a baby bird out of its nest:

First of all, determine whether or not the bird is injured. If it is not, make sure there are no animals nearby that might harm the bird. If a bird is found on the ground, gently replace it in its nest. It is not true bird parents will not care for a baby once it has been touched by a human.

If the nest is unsafe, place the bird in a small basket and nail the basket to the tree near the original nest, out of direct sunlight. If a basket is unavailable, a small plastic container with holes punched in the bottom to prevent drowning will do. From a distance keep an eye on the baby to see if the parents return. If they do not return in an hour call your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for help.

If the basket idea sounds far fetched to you, let me assure you it works. I have witnessed this successfully twice when my husband and later my daughter used a basket to save baby birds.

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If the bird is injured

  • Do not give the bird any food or water!
  • Prepare a small cardboard box by punching holes in the sides and top for ventilation
  • Gently place the bird on a towel or soft cloth in the box and place the box in a dry warm spot
  • Call your nearest DNR or rehabilitation center

Source: Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky, Inc.

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”                          David Attenborough

Photos by Pixabay

Bird Food for All

Bird Food Thieves

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Squirrel

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Feed them and they will come!

Recently I was joking about how much it costs to keep my five bird feeders supplied. I told my kids that the bird food bill was more than for my groceries. Well, on my birthday the family presented me with about 70# of different kinds of birdfeed! What a great gift. There was even a bag of peanuts for the sneaky rodents who drop by regularly! 

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”                          David Attenborough

 

 

Bird Photos by Pixabay

ZOO WALK

My daughter, Dianne, and I signed up for a walking club that meets at our local zoo before opening each morning. I have ambiguous feelings about zoos. I know they save some animals even species and I love to see the animals that I would never see “in person” if not for zoos. On the other hand, I sometimes see animals pacing their enclosures and I know that we (humans) have driven them mad for our pleasure. So, I sit on the fence a bit, boycotting circuses but every few years visiting a zoo. My daughter feels even more strongly anti-zoo than do I.

So, how did we end up walking there? Good question. I suppose we felt we could see the animals without supporting the zoo by buying a ticket. Cheap? Perhaps, but I think it is more a rationalization. Regardless, I was disappointed that we didn’t see many animals on our first walk. A lion, a tortoise, a rhino, that was about it. But this past week we hit the jackpot by staying a little later. We saw, tigers, monkeys, wallabies, kangaroos, a grizzly bear, all kinds of birds and these, my favorites!

The slideshow below contains more shots of the gorilla and polar bear. All photos taken by Dianne Bynum.

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I welcome your opinions regarding supporting zoos and any special memories you may want to share with us.

Good Advice

This letter was published today in the Courier-Journal and I thought it was worth sharing.

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I found a wildlife baby – now what?

Our native wildlife are having their babies. If you find a wildlife baby that might need help, what do you do? The best thing to do is NOT care for them yourself, but call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator like Second Chances Wildlife Center or Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky.

Fawn and baby bunnies do not share a nest with Mom. Mom is only with her babies five to 10 minutes a day. Unless a fawn is crying for more than two consecutive hours, they do not need rescuing.

Fledgling birds flop around on the ground for days before flying. Baby birds can be placed back in nests.

Squirrels have multiple nests at a time. If you disturb one, she’ll move her babies to another one. Find squirrel or raccoon babies on the ground? Place them in a box by where the nest was and wait for Mom to come get them one at a time when there is no disturbance from humans or pets.

Opossum or skunk babies DO need help as Mom is with them at all times.

You can prevent wildlife from becoming orphaned and injured by checking your grass before mowing and watch outdoor pets. If you know there is a nest in your yard, keep your dog on a leash or inside for a week or two, so the babies have time to grow and leave your yard. Trim trees in late fall when there are no babies in nests.

Brigette Brouillard

Mount Washington, Ky. 40047

 

Photo by Pixabay

Trees

Trees Reach for the Heavens

It seems that trees are abundant. There are so many kinds and sizes and they change predictably season by season. It would be easy to take them for granted and I probably did at one time. During the early 1990s, I had an experience that changed that. I now look at trees through a different lens, respecting their fight for survival against the many odds such as weather, fire, and most destructive of all, humankind. 

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While walking on a two-lane country road, I witnessed the disfigurement, the destruction of trees along that quiet little community. A few limbs needed to be trimmed to ensure drivers’ vision would not be blocked in the future. It could be done piece by piece, but the road department workers apparently thought that was too slow so they devised a way to chew off the intruding growth expediently. Using both a bulldozer and a Bush Hog in a vertical direction they sped along the road shredding, disfiguring and raping the trees. These are my notes upon my return from that walk so long ago. 

Trees, arms flailing, bones cracking, leaves gurgling under the weight of more bodies piled up. 

Giant, crashing ahead, beeping back, ahead again belching his awful breath. 

The birds cry out as Godzilla stamps through their homes. 

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“For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.” Martin Luther

 

 

 

 

Springtime Walk

Back to the Park

For various reasons, some more important than others, I have not been to the Parklands to walk for a long time. Mostly it’s just that during the winter months I’m a wimp about the cold temperatures and it seems that spring has been a long time coming here in Kentucky. Finally this past weekend the temperature was just right and I returned to Pope Lick Park, my favorite along Floyd’s Fork. Other areas of the Parklands are more elaborate and have very interesting features, but Pope Lick is more wild in places and more intimate, except for the soccer fields, but the walk around them illustrates kids and adults interacting in the most positive ways. Whether a team or family event, the atmosphere is competition at its best. 

The Walk

As I began my walk I eagerly looked forward to the signs of spring, but they were not as abundant as expected. Most trees had tiny tender leaves springing forth. There were signs of wildlife, but I saw only a few birds. I did document the extensive work of the resident woodpecker population.  The grass was mostly green, but there were dried grasses all along the trails. 

The further I ventured, the more interesting finds, including some of my favorites. There were cattails shedding like cats, mushrooms living well on dead trees and a sure sign of springtime, May apples. 

The 1.5 mile walk revealed very few wild flowers, or perhaps they are weeds, but they bloomed nevertheless. I wasn’t disappointed, but a little letdown that springtime was not waiting there for me as I had anticipated. 

The Encounter

Then I spotted a tree that was apparently very glad to see me!

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