Thursday, April 13, 2017

Birdwatching in Armchair Comfort

It was just after the Spring break in 2017 and we are invited by Linda; my daughter’s friend to spend a weekend with them in Panora in Iowa. The weather was still in a more wintery spring with heavy overcast skies but a rain free weekend is predicted.

We arrive late Friday evening in remote rural Panora in the state of Iowa to be greeted by Linda and Jeffrey who are with Bonnie in her large and comfortable country home which is more suited for a guest house. Everything is arranged and taken care of, we only had to bring  the thirst quenchers to keep our spirits high.

IMG_6003 Stitch

The house located on a hill overlooking a water front far below which was not visible in the dark night; but the lights of the abodes on the opposite bank was an indication what an exciting weekend is to dawn tomorrow. Linda had cautioned us of  the roaming deer that we might encounter on the last stretch of the dirt road about 5 miles. She was very correct when we saw them against the headlights…. some were crossing  our way while some were grazing the shoulder.

Exchanging pleasantries and  pranking with their two pet dogs and ours who also went along we retire for a an exciting morning to come. 

IMG_5980 Stitch copy
Up following morning out on the timber deck extending from the bedroom into a large water-body the vista was just breathtaking………..the sun was barred behind the clouds and it was a cool dry morning, gloomy and overcast. Excepting for a few Canada Geese honking aloud from the lake below it was pin drop silence. A very unusual feeling, away from the general  urban habitat encountered all this while.

Down stairs we walk into a country style breakfast done by Linda…..waffles topped over with maple syrup and black berry sauce to be had with steaming coffee.

IMG_6214Bonnie tells me that since I’m a bird fan she has put up the bird feeders and if I’m lucky they would come up as she does not have them up regularly, as the nightly visits of vessels and raccoons that make a mess of the seeds and the feeders as well…... There was a North American bird guide by National Geographic Society and another illustrated guide and two small binoculars sitting on the coffee table over looking the feeders…this is going to be a pampered session of bird-watching .

I go down the hillside to the boatyard that is still not functioning being just after the winter freeze. The water is still icy cold. I wonder into the woods while the sky is still favorable for ambling in the open. Plenty of bird-life around was heard in the thickets. The clear  sound of a couple of woodpeckers that kept on drumming on the hollow trees  carried their melody far into the otherwise quiet woods.

Black Capped Chickadee, White breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Blue Jay,Song Sparrow & Dark-eyed Junco


I had to keep away from the waterline to avoid getting bogged down when I startled a rabbit that vanished in a swift before I could make my mind of what it was. Far into the thicket I cloud just make out the profile of a lonely young buck nibbling the fist blades of grass that has just sprung  after the first rains in spring.

Wondering further I would be startling the buck as well….when I decide to leave the habitat for them and its time to get back when the chill and the breeze has built-up and the signs of a shower was on its way.

Back on the deck everybody are wrapped up sitting around a modern day out door heater run by a portable gas container and sipping into cold beer. I too join them with a pint, jacketed in-order to comfort the palm in the cold weather. 

Everyone are eager to see the birds coming on to the feeders installed a few feet away from us……….with no birds yet and the beer running down smooth we turn to the indoors to avoid a heavy drizzle that has now turned to a moderate rain.

Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker

All hopes of seeing anymore birds other than what was seen in the woods it would be like, when all of a sudden a chickadee came over to the feeder while we were indoors. Now with the rains ceased and a continuing drizzle the visitors became numerous  and their frequency of the visits increasing.

Gold Finch, Red Cardinal and White breasted Nuthatch 

The White-breasted Nuthatch was a selective bird opting its favoured seeds and was in the habit of throwing the other seeds all-around attracting other birds that picked them off the floor.

Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker 
The highlight was when the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker the largest bird to visit the feeders overshadowed the other birds .  By early evening now with the rain gone the dogs napping within the house get excited and are eager to go out on the deck when we see five deer just below the bird feeders nibbling on the seeds dropped by the birds. We quieten the dogs and watch the deer go pass into the woods. 


White-tailed Deer
With light fading the activity at the feeders also came to an end. It was our turn on the deck now. The BBQ spit on the far end is sizzling and the outdoor heater set on full glow… we toasted for a memorable weekend with a round of Margarita done to a home recipe laced down with crystal clear Mexican Tequila…..  

1 comment:

  1. Varuni De Silva HanwellaApril 13, 2017 at 9:07 PM

    Nice article. Photos make it very real. You have had a great time.