Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Wild Wood

"What lies over there?" asked the Mole, waving a paw towards a background of woodland that darkly framed the water meadows on one side of the river.

"That? O, that's just the Wild Wood," said the Rat shortly.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Emily looking out from the decking
Emily looking out
from the decking
Our house sits on a half-acre plot, most of which is wooded. The woods on our plot is but a part of more extensive woods that stretch across many of the plots along our street. As a result, we get a good amount of wildlife. One thing that is really lovely about being out here in NC is that one can sit out on the decking and just enjoy watching and listening to the woods. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at knowing what I'm seeing, but when I see something new I like to google to try and identify it.

The sounds are mainly crickets. I know that other areas of NC also have very noisy tree frogs, but I'm not sure if there are any in our woods. If there were, I'm sure we'd be able to hear them. As it is, the sound of crickets makes an almost constant background buzz, especially in the evenings. On a rainy day, the buzz is taken over by the sound of the rain, then starts up again once the rain has stopped. We also have some rather noisy owls.

Mostly there are grey squirrels. Apparently, they're the official state mammal! Emily and Lauren have seen the odd snake and gecko. When we first moved here, the neighbour's son had caught a baby snake and put it in a bucket. They saw the gecko when it jumped onto the neighbour's shoe. They tried to catch it, but the neighbour's dog got to it first. Whether it was too quick for the dog and managed to get away, or whether the dog had an unplanned protein supplement added to its menu that day is one of life's great mysteries. There are also raccoons and deer. Mark was out on the upper balcony recently, when spotted a group of three deer eating the grass by the side of our house. They spotted him and scarpered. None of us have seen any raccoons, but there was one that had been hit by a car on the side of a nearby road, so their residence in our wood is not outside the realms of possibility.

The woods also contain many birds. We quite often spot what may be woodpeckers or sapsuckers; and have also spotted quite a lot of Eastern Bluebirds and a Cardinal. There are also a lot of other little birds that are likely to be finches, tits and thrushes of one sort or another, but as I'm not an expert, I can't say more than that. I've also seen a large hawk sitting on the roof of a house on our street. I didn't get a clear enough view to be able to identify it, though.

It's now mid-march and the weather is really hotting-up. Spring is in the air (actually, by UK standards it's more like a July heatwave) and the woods are more alive now than they were in the winter. The wood is gradually colouring itself green from the floor, upwards. All our windows have mesh over them, so we can open the windows without insects flying into the house (except for a few tiny ones). When the windows are open, Memory and Rosalind sit on the sills and watch the woods. Sometimes they become animated because something has caught their eyes. Most often, they just sit and watch and listen, even if it's raining.


crystal said...

What nice kitties :-). I have one cat left - the others passed away recently - Kermit, who is 15 years old now.

Ren said...

I love it when spring comes and there is more to do and see outside. Just a word of warning, though. Within the next few weeks, the tree pollen will be coming down. It is literally a blanket of yellow dust that gets everywhere. When it rains, you'll see what looks like yellow chalkdust on the curbs. You may not want to keep the windows or screens open much during that time, especially if any of you suffer from seasonal allergies. It doesn't last very long, especially if we get some rain during that time.

Viola said...

Thanks for the heads up.

Lorraine said...

How great to have so much nature close at hand. We don't have many music-making insects around here...wish we did. Did you know that the German word for squirrel literally translates to "oak kitten"? I think that's charming.