My granddaughter, Nikki age 9, and I took a drive Sunday afternoon to the local forest preserve. Called Homer Lake, it does have a large man-made lake and quite a substantial wooded area. We parked the car and walked down by the spill way looking for deer tracks in the mud. Seeing none, we did see by the trash left behind(sticks and leaves) how high the water had been a few weeks ago.
We drove on around to some of the trails, but most were muddy and had standing water. So we walked down by the lake's edge. We heard several birds, a couple we could identify. We heard a crow, a cardinal and the honks of some Canadian geese. We saw a type of sea gull and were surprised by them. I didn't know they came this far inland. We watched them riding on air currents, diving towards the lake then circling around to do it all again. I gave Nikki the camera to try to catch a picture of one, but even with my zoom lens, none showed up enough to print. She was as disappointed as I was. But we decided when the weather warmed some we would come back and try again. She is getting enthusiastic about nature, I guess I am going to have to study up some.
As we walked back up the hill we noticed a tree with a new section of its' bark missing. As you can see below, there is a section of bark that has been gone awhile and the tree has turned dark. The newly removed area is still fresh looking. On closer inspection, we could see teeth marks in the freshly removed area. Nikki took great pains to get just the right angle to show the markings. We decided deer had been gnawing on it. I explained that when the snow is deep and they can't get to grass they will eat bark. This year we have had snow and frozen ground for what seems an eternity. I imagine the poor deer are really getting hungry. She thought it might be nice to feed them. I agreed, but explained that this is a natural area and in nature this is what happens. We don't want to make pets of them, but be able to observe them as in the wild.
Our next question was why this tree? The bark on this one looked no different than several others nearby, but they weren't disturbed. Anyone care to give an explanation? (I told you I'd have to study!) So that became a project for us. To find out about deer and how they survive in the winter. She is going to do some searching on the Internet as am I.
Deciding we were getting cold, we left the preserve in favor of some hot chocolate! We did take the long way back and drove by a goat farm. We stopped and watched them watch us. The goats were white with brown heads and we thought that unusual. We found a sign that said Boer Goats. A new breed to me. Nikki saw three turkeys in the corner of the goat pen. Two were black and one was brown. We waited hoping to see their tail feathers stand up, no luck. She did think maybe we should come back in the spring to see if they had little one...goats and turkeys.
Over hot cocoa we talked about nature and birds and how if we just look we can find all sorts of interesting things. She knows I do a blog and is going to help me think of things to write about. She is even going to make a list for me. I think I have another nature lover coming along!
For those of you that wished us well on getting our new ceiling up...we did! Our two son-in-laws came over on Saturday and with only minor complications we finished. Of course you realize my contribution to the project consisted mainly of cleaning up after them and supplying food and drink. In fact, we bribed them with offers of steak on the grill and all the trimmings. We ended up cooking the steaks in the dark, but it was well worth it. So thank you, guys, for your strong and young arms and legs! And for your generous and helping natures! We love you both.