Yesterday was 20 below and today 26 below. That's below as in below zero! Skies are cloudless blue and there's not more than ten inches of the white stuff on the ground. In areas with a lot of southern exposure, there's not even any snow. But one big snow storm will change that!
The day before yesterday, I got Clark to feed from my hand! I'd been training him the past couple of days. He's been knocking incessantly on my windows wanting me to come out and feed him. So, instead of putting the nuts on the windowsill, I showed him the only way I'd feed him is if he trusted me enough to land on me the way the gray jays do. He finally had the nerve to do it ONCE. He was prompted by sheer frustration because he'd watch the gray jays filling up and he finally was so frustrated he just came to me. He stayed until he picked up all the nuts. I've only had gray jays feed from my hand - never a different breed. It was exciting to have a Clark's Nutcracker sit in my hand! His name sake comes from the Lewis & Clark Expedition. He was one of the birds they discovered.
He's bigger than the gray jays. His beak is much longer and he has black and white wings versus gray. He had a very gentle way as he sat in my hand. He picked up the nuts very softly. It was awesome to connect with him like that!
I've been "blogging" through my page called CHIPPY. The following is part of what you'll find if you click on that page. I'm now going to continue my blogging here. Enjoy the pictures of chipmunks, ground squirrels, a porcupine, birds and a few squirrels.
It's July 4th. Each summer, I live in a remote area in the mountains where the elevation is 10,000 feet. (For a picture of my cabin click on the ARTIST link.) The roads aren't paved and the closest commercial enterprise (a small cafe) is three miles away while the nearest grocery store is an hour's drive. Undeveloped Forest Service land surrounds my property on three sides and an undeveloped privately owned piece of land borders me on the east. There's not a neighbor in sight. In the winter, roads aren't plowed and the average amount of snow on the ground is easily four to six feet with temps dipping to 30 and 40 below zero for long periods of time. It's a tough environment, but equally beautiful and serene. It's quiet in a way that takes you back in time.
I've become part of the eco system around me with the animals and birds that live here year round. Pictured are some baby golden mantel ground squirrels -- they're the ones without stripes running up their head. Chippy is their mom. This is my 4th summer with her. You might notice a small 'chip' out of her left ear that she got a couple of years ago from a scuffle defending her territory. She also has half a tail from that little rumble.
Chippy comes to her name and lets me pet her while I feed her nuts. She climbs all over me with ease.I first met Chippy's babies yesterday (July 4th) and I was able to pet them and feed them within minutes of approaching them. I've never experienced that with a wild baby animal! I don't know if Chippy has communicated with them and given me the thumbs up or what! I gave one baby a dandelion and played a gentle game of tug of war like you would with a puppy.
The chipmunks have stripes all the way up their face to their little pointed noses. They also feed from my hand and come when I call. There are three of them and this is my first summer where they've come to me so freely. They are such gentle, sweet creatures. They'll climb all over me waiting for a nut. I've taught one to come to my second story window in the evenings. They stay up later than the ground squirrels and the rise earlier in the morning. They can climb right up the side of the cabin like they have a little bit of magic. One of the baby ground squirrels tried (unsuccessfully) to emulate the way they climb. It was comical!
The baby ground squirrels are about the size of a chipmunk right now. When full grown they'll be twice their size. Also pictured above are a few shots of Punky, Chippy's year-old daughter. A couple of photos show Chippy and Punky together. Punky gave birth recently, but I haven't seen her babies yet. Both she and Chippy appear to still be nursing.
July 5th - The changes in the babies in just one day are remarkable. They are exploring everything and trying to figure out what's edible. They chew on anything they come into contact with from bark, rocks, sticks, dirt, to left over stuff in the outdoor fire pit, which they are playing in like children in a sandbox. I gave one baby a pecan and another one a peanut for their first time. Yesterday they weren't interested in the nuts at all.
I LOVE the quiet and the slower pace I take with life here in the mountains. There is no cell service. No texting. No having the TV on in the background. No traffic sounds. It is also my temporary salvation away from all things crazy and unjust. I often listen to the natural world: the stream flowing, the trees creaking, all kinds of birds whistling, the wind blowing and take notice of the insect world (did you know there are an estimated 10 quintillion insects?) and how all life around me from the plants, animals, insects, and birds is interwoven and connected with one another.
It's all about perspective. When a fly is buzzing around inside my home or landing on me I want to shoo it away. When it's in its own habitat minding its own business, it's quite interesting.
When my granddaughter visits, I make an extra batch of pancakes so we have plenty left over for the birds..
Click on CHIPPY to continue with the story and see more pictures... it will take you through July and up to August 25th...
I'm an artist, writer, photographer, private investigator and an activist in small ways.
"Turning indifference into making a difference."
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I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand & later found out it is under investigation for tiger trafficking and animal abuse. Read full story. In 2015 it was raided. More than 100 tigers and protected bird species in Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province were impounded by authorities following complaints that the temple was alleged to engage in illegal wildlife trading.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
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Read about life in the woods with Chippy & the crew...