Friday, January 23, 2015

Gang wars!

Our neighbourhood has seen a significant change these days. Several gangs have moved in and are making their presence seen and felt!
Gangs of grönfink/greenfinches, domherre/bullfinches, blåmes/blue tit and talgoxe/great tit, gulsparv/yellowhammers and skata/magpie are "fighting" one another at the local feeders. The green finches have claimed the hanging feeder as their "territory", the tits the greaseballs, the yellowhammers and bullfinches are the groundtroops and the magpies... Well, they do what they do best; bicker and fight, chase away the rest, destroy the place and run for cover as soon as even the slightest form of non animal movement is seen.
It is a great joy to see all these different gangs in action. As soon as we have filled the table, the first ones to rush in are the blue tits, closely followed by the great tits. If neither of them gets into trouble, the green finches and the yellowhammers are next on the scene, with the bullfinches as a very cautious last. The magpies wreck the place in the morning or if no other groups of birds are feeding. Strangely enough..... Single birds are bullied and driven of, though!
In between a single nötväcka/nuthatch makes a dash for the feeder, throwing all the seeds on the ground and taking only the sunflowerseeds. After that the green finches take over once more and continue their feeding and squabbling, thereby also dropping many a seed.
The tits have the seedfilled greaseball all to themselves. The rest can not handle those, but while feeding they too drop a good deal of morsels. The yellowhammers and bullfinches do all the cleaning up.
We also get to see "our" couple of woodpeckers almost daily; mr. & mrs Hackspett.
Another group that is roaming the area is a group of sidensvans/Bohemian waxwing. A marvelous bird. Larger than the rest, very colourful with distinct markings and tyft of the head and they keep very much to themselves, paying little attention to the other birds and non what's however to the food we lay out. They stick to the pinetree and its seedcones.

Yesterday, the first sun we saw since my birthday.
Well, we did see a deal more today...
And some of my wishes did come true! Winter did return!
Snow slowly wafting down from the heavens (sometimes accompanied by a biting eastern wind, which spat the flakes right into the skin of your face, no matter how you dressed...) and temperatures have dropped again.
Ohhh the joy!! I just love that sting of freezing in my face, my nostrils, my lungs.. It revives and refreshes.... Freshly fallen, fine, powdery snow... on a surface of ice....
I never knew I could dance like that!
But...... that also makes for some good tracking! There seems to be a single fox going around here. Many footprints, some very fresh, but we haven't heard him/her calling all winter. Yet I am quite sure it has its lair quite nearby, maybe even just across the street, since Rex is very, very interested in that area!
The thick layer of snow also drives roedeer out onto the fields, like this morning, when at first we saw a smaller hare hopping over the road, but when it spotted us, it turned and double quicked away. Rex would have gone in pursuit, if I hadn't had him on a leash with both heels dug into the snow.... for however little footing that might have yielded. After the kids got on the bus, 4-legs and 2-legs moved on, both pulling in opposite directions (he leaning into the leash and I slowing him down), only to come across 4 deer, standing in a field, 20 meters from the road, in the darkness with a large group of boulders and trees behind them. Had they remained motionless I guess there wouldn't have been a problem..... But they didn't...... And Rex went ballistic! He went so mad, that he hopped around on his hindlegs, keeping the leash taught, spinning in circles with me in the middle, spinning on my again dug in heels. In the end I had to physically pin him down on the ground to get him to calm down! The deer were gone, I was less then friendly and he.... still had trouble keeping his energy in check. And after a tense-300-meter-walk, there was another field...... And yes.... It contained life! I could see and even feel the immense tension within the dog, trying so hard to contain himself, yet failing more and more.... I felt sorry for him, but he also has to learn to control himself.
Later today we went for a long walk with him and this time my wife was holding him. And he showed the same overenthusiastic, hyperenergetic behaviour. He has all day, actually. No idea what's wrong.... He even annoyed the hell out of the cats....
Anyway... we reached the same spot as in the morning and I went to check the tracks. Indeed. 4 roedeer. And as I raised my head, I spotted movement a little further ahead... Our neighbourhood has one more gang roaming about; a buck and 4 does. Fine looking animals (at a distance); strong, healthy and proudlooking. I shoo'ed them away, because they showed little sign of fear and I did not want to get to close with Rex, anticipating his response to them.


  1. To quote Yoda "The (prey drive) is strong in this one!" Our little cross bred is just like this. Will take off after a hare and be gone. Of course the hare wins. The dog comes back all winded. Your writing reminds me of what I imagine "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard might be like (for I have never read it!) or "Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold (that I haven't read either!) (both on my list!)

  2. Nice post Ron. Thank you. I love to get glimpses of the beautiful woods life.