Monthly Archives: April 2009

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

One of the great pleasures given to us by our forest friends is to watch the antics of the wild turkey that live in woods surrounding us. Just after sunrise and just before sunset, they will come to open areas to feed. If we spread corn in the meadow behind the cabin, we can draw them out and watch them.

Particularly fascinating is early spring (mating season). First the old Tom will strut out from the creek area where we suspect they roost, across the grassy area in front of the cabin, heading for the meadow and the spread corn. He will pause and fan his majestic tail feathers out, slowly turning to show off this impressive decoration, uttering his “Gobble Gobble Gobble Gobble”, all the while hoping to attract the attention of a hen.

By and by, a group of hens (or sometimes just a single hen) will emerge shyly from the woods.  Very cautiously she will closely skirt the edge of the clearing, afraid of any lurking predators, and waddle towards the strutting Tom. I imagine that she sees him as the glorious vision he imagines himself to be. And of course this causes Himself to strut even grander and his waddle (the fleshy part hanging on his neck) turns a brighter red.  We have yet been witness to the fulfillment of this ritual, and I am not sure we are meant to intrude upon the moment, as entertaining as it is bound to be. Nor have we observed a fight between two Toms as they are wont to do when vying for the attention of potential mates.

We are not always graced with a visit from a Tom. Sometimes it is only a bunch of hens that come to feed, perhaps accompanied by a Jake or two. Jakes are juvenile males who the hens are not yet romantically “interested” in. Today, late in the afternoon, a parade of six Jakes came waddling up the driveway, their necks bobbing comically in unison, heading for the meadow. This was quite a spectacle. We watched in amusement as they enjoyed their dinner, then as if on signal from whichever was their leader, they all lined up to parade back across the yard and back down the driveway.

When they were gone, the lone crow returned to his previously interrupted grazing of the meadow.

Collecting Wildflowers

Collecting Wildflowers

The mountains are alive with a profusion of wildflowers most of the year. I have read that there are well over 3,000 varieties found in the southern Appalachians. Every week we come up here there is something new and different blooming. Wanting to learn the names of each, I started a new project.

Mike made me a flower press out of plywood scraps, with nuts and bolts on the corners to create “press”.

I layered cardboard scraps with unprinted newsprint paper (it’s absorbent and cheap in the children’s art section at Staples).

I made a “field press” out of cardboard and heavy rubberbands, small and light enough to fit in my ruck sack.

                

Then armed with the field press, a notebook to jot down descriptions, locations and sketches, an assortment of wildflower field guides, and my camera……..

  

I am off to loose myself in the blissful solitude of this new hobby. In the early spring, I don’t have to go far to find an abundance of colorful blooms carpeting the cabin clearing and sprouting on the path to the creek. Just to name a few, there are some of my photos…….

Common Blue Violet

Halberdleaf Violet

Canadian White Violet

Solomon's Seal

Catesby's Trillium ranging in various shades of white and pink

I am mounting the dried specimens along with their photos, labels and descriptions in an ever-growing album.