from the notebook of Ann Collins
The Bird Station is an important component for my wildlife exemption. Plus its just a great place to enjoy the woods and the wildlife.
Since there are lots of ferns, I feel I must water often. It gets a couple of hours of water about every four days. It’s very hot and there’s no rain at all!
When the August temperature gets to 100 degrees, plants simply cook; they just about curl up and die or go dormant.
Every year I plant more and more ferns. This year I want to plant some flowering trees, red bud, camellias, and maybe a few azaleas. I can’t help myself!
A few days ago, I went down for a dusk visit, and there were two armadillos just churning up the moist soil. One of them churned right up to my foot. I nearly scared it to death when I moved! They are such strange creatures. I would be perfectly happy if they wouldn’t dig up the ferns. Sometimes newly planted ones must be replanted several times before their roots go deep enough to withstand the nightly disturbance.
For years I have used deadfall to make an interesting border for the trail. My nephew says it’s very “Martha” (meaning M. Stewart!) It does add a nice rustic touch. But, after several years and lots of rain, plus my watering, it’s beginning to go back to the earth. So, the armadillos root through it looking for goodies only they could find appetizing. Alas, my borders are disappearing at an alarming rater, and there isn’t so much deadfall anymore.
If the armadillos weren’t enough, there are nightly visits from my raccoon troop. They love to raid the bird feeders for the sunflower seeds. They wreak havoc on the feeders, pulling them down and doing their best to destroy them in the process. Don’t they realize that without the feeders there will be no tasty seeds? Maybe at some level they know that I will always be on the look-out for more and better raccoon-proof feeders.
We used to routinely trap raccoons and relocate them. I used to torment John P. by tellling him I dropped them off at the dark of the moon at his gate. I never did that, John! Anthony usually took them down to the river and let them go.
I have seen deer, coyotes, foxes, skunks, opossums, and squirrels. I even caught some in traps, the Have-a Heart traps. The only damage they do is make big raccoons mad! I even caught a cat or two and once, even a cardinal!
There are lots of snakes, too. I’m always on the lookout for those critters: coral snakes, timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, black runners. I like snakes, but I also respect them. After I snap a picture of them for iNaturalist, I generally let them be.
So many frogs in the Bird Station this year. Sometimes, when I walk down, the little cricket frogs scatter like grasshoppers in the dry fields. These are Blanchard cricket frogs. I’ve also seen Gulf Coast toads, gray tree frogs (these guys have some really interesting variations), green tree frogs, southern leopard frogs, and one ID on iNaturalist as a spade-footed toad (I’m really proud of that one; I never could have identified it myself!).
Bird species are so numerous that I can’t begin to list them here. Just this morning I’ve heard the primitive call of the pileated woodpecker twice. Such a treat!