Oh, what a grey, rainy start to November we have had indeed! For us in Victoria, though not as cold as other parts perhaps, the cool and damp just sink into the bones it seems and makes one wish to crawl under the bed and hibernate for several months! The house is cold, and I go outside to rake leaves just to warm up, exhausting myself in the process. But the fresh air and hearing the birds in the trees restores my spirits to a degree, while picking up chestnuts from four separate Horse chestnut trees most certainly does not! What a relief to put the rake and bucket away and come inside again to carry on, and glancing out the window, to see my little feathered friends.
I recently heard of a sighting of a Western White butterfly in Medicine Hat, Alberta and it nearly made me cry to see the picture of the lovely creature. Ironically, I have not seen a butterfly of any kind here in so long now I can’t recall and ….well …this is Victoria!! We’re supposed to be the “Oasis of Canada”… but it would seem, not for butterflies. And so I turn to my beloved birds to bring me solace now.
I call this blog “Ode to the Nuthatch” because these little birds are such remarkable and resilient little characters and they cheer me up from the foulest of moods when they come to see me at the suet feeder daily outside my kitchen window. Unfortunately, the lighting has been so very poor these rainy days and my time so limited, it is rare that I get what I would call a “good” shot of them so I settle for what is passable and am just grateful I can get any shots at all as these little ones move so very fast, like the bushtits and chickadees.
Having said this, a day later the sun came out and I managed two much better shots with the improved lighting and was able to add them to the blog.
But as it gets cooler, the Nuthatches have been coming more often. I say “they” because there are a pair, a male and female, often coming at the same time, and sometimes I even manage a shot of them both on the feeder. They dart in and out at what appears to be the speed of light. I once was at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary and heard a loud knocking on the side of the Nature House only to discover a tiny nuthatch banging away at the wood on the side of the building like a tiny woodpecker, no doubt looking for insects.
The camera I use is not a DSLR, but my same old point-and-shoot 18x optical zoom Lumix from years gone by. At the time it came out, it was the best (in my opinion) camera of its kind on the market and any so-called “improvements” by Panasonic since then have just not been as good. My friend in Saskatchewan and another friend in Alberta ironically both have the identical model of camera and they are both seasoned photographers with far more experience with cameras than I have ever had. How funny to have met them through the Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild and to discover we had this in common.
Below is a poem I was inspired to write in the wee hours on November 2nd after managing to get some decent shots of these little birds. Enjoy and may November show us some more sunshine along with the rainy days.
Ode to the Nuthatch
Oh little character so small,
you entertain me now in Fall,
a comic piece of Nature’s art,
your body streamlined as a dart.
Upright, sideways, upside down,
you acrobatic, tiny clown –
sharp upturned beak and bandit eyes,
each day you come to tantalize
and lift my spirits from the grey
of sadness on a rainy day.
And even strolling through the park,
I catch you clinging to the bark
just out of range on tallest trees,
your “Yank! Yank!” call upon the breeze!
You make me laugh, you make me smile
and savor freedom for a while.
Then back, outside my window’s pane
you join the Juncos once again,
oh little character so small –
Come! Entertain me now in Fall…
© Annie Pang November 3, 2014.