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April 29, 2011

Thinking Back To Winter Bluebird Video...

Hey,

Amidst all the terrible destruction in the South... Here's a bit of peace from Cape Cod -- a bluebird video from last winter...

CapeCodAlan


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April 28, 2011

April 27 Tornadoes...

As you probably know, the South just got slammed with a series of brutal twisters (at least one of which was an EF5 -- the most powerful.) The damage runs some 800 miles and the death toll now exceeds 250. According to Fox News, one entire small town was simply obliterated. The following photographs are from FEMA, and don't even hint at the scope of the destruction...

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If you would like to help, here are two trustworthy organizations:

CapeCodAlan


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April 27, 2011

Frisky Flicker and Farm Table Update...

Right off the bat, let me tell you that our chimney-pounding flicker is starting to wear very thin. From sunup to sunset, "Little Bird Viagra" has been using our metal flue insert as a broadcasting beacon for his very own nasty bad self... (Given the incessant duration of his efforts, I can only assume that we're talking one ugly bird here.) Enough is enough. If a 'guy bird' wants to meet a 'gal bird'... Fine. Take out a classified... But the 'guy bird' shouldn't tear our house apart in his less-than-civilized process. So Mr. Romeo Flicker... That's it... Either you turn to some sort of dating service, or I will make a giant sign out of a sheet of 4' by 8' plywood; and that sign will say "Hawks! Free Lunch!!!" I'll post that sign (complete with neon bulls eye) right on the roof where you like to slam dance your message of luvvv... (If you thought the neighbors were talking about CapeCodAlan before...)

Deep breath... On to the table... Here's the problem... We have to join these two boards together somewhat permanently, yet at the same time allow them to move as they soak up (or release) humidity... Note the yardstick...

top resized.JPG

There are a couple of techniques that take into account such swelling and contraction, and the end bread board below with grooved pin areas is a good starting point...

floating bread board resized.JPG

And there's the floating underside cleat(s) that allow give and take... CLEAT resized.JPG

But still there's the matter of keeping the whole thing together... As for uniting the top with the skirt and legs, I'll just use common metal clamps. But what of that "breathing" top? Here's my solution...

SPRING AND floatong breadbord resized.JPG

Yup, this thing is going to be spring-loaded so that it can move and at the same time look as tight as a drum....

I'm telling ya', I'm a genius... Now if I can just figure out a way to make that flicker leave us alone...

See you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 24, 2011

The Zoo (and I do mean Zoo)

Saw this little female bluebird flitting about most of the afternoon... Love the expression...

400_inquisitive_IMG_2604.JPG

Have a female hairy woodpecker!

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And here is a male red-bellied (red-bellies are cool because you can easily determine the sex by the red on the forehead...)

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But of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a female snapping turtle lumbering in front of your house and into the neighbors front yard. (This isn't the first time this blog has run across a snapping turtle...)

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Oh! Before I go, I found the following passage from a 1901 text... It looks like our chimney-banging flicker (last encountered at 6AM yesterday!) isn't trying to make a home, but is instead trying to... ... ... Well, you know...

"Other birds woo their mates with songs, but the woodpecker has no voice for singing. He cannot pour out his soul in melody and tell his love his devotion in music. How do songless birds express their emotions? Some by grotesque actions and oglings, as the horned owl, and some by frantic dances, as the sharp-tailed grouse, woo and win their mates; but the amorous woodpecker, not excepting the flickers, which also woo by gestures, whacks a piece of seasoned timber, and rattles off interminable messages according to the signal code set down for woodpeckers' love affairs. He is the only instrumental performer among the birds; for the ruffed grouse, though he drums, has no drum..."

"The flicker often telegraphs his love by tapping either on a forest tree or on some loose board of a barn or outhouse; but he has other ways of courting his lady. On fine spring mornings, late in April, I have seen them on a horizontal bough, the lady sitting quietly while her lover tried to win her approval by strange antics" (From: "The Woodpeckers" by Fannie Hardy Eckstorm... http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35062/35062-h/35062-h.htm)

If by chance you're reading this Mr. Flicker, let me save you some time, save us a piece of our home, and let you do what comes naturally... I'll buy you a six pack and play a little Barry White if you'll only stop clattering on our smokestack!

Who's the zookeeper of this joint anyway?

Befuddled by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 22, 2011

Bird Pics!

Ok, so I'll admit it, the last post was verbose... Here... Have some bird pics... I'm going to bed.

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Snoring by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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Snoring by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan

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April 20, 2011

Stupid Birds...

Don't get me wrong... I don't hate birds... Not at all. They give the wife and I great pleasure and peace. And that's especially true when they actually show up. By now, I was expecting to produce an eye popping close up of a hummingbird... Instead, we get a stock chickadee...

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I know the hummers are around here. Take a look at the hummingbirds.net map...

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Maybe I should make up some t-shirts that read, "I went to Cape Cod to look at Ruby throats and all I got was a chickadee and this stupid shirt!"

And following right behind the no-show hummingbirds in the "Uncooperative Parade" is the flicker who's determined to shred our chimney. At least twice a day, I have to go out and shoo away that dumb critter as it tries to crack open a new home in a place where he really doesn't want to be. So I have to walk out and basically yell at the roof. (What the neighbors must think... "Yup, there's crazy ol' CapeCodAlan shouting at the shingles again... It's a shame he went around the bend so young...")

But I guess this is the fate and allure of backyard birding -- sometimes you get lucky and simply miss an award-winning photograph, and other times, your beloved creatures try to tear your house apart... That reminds me of a National Lampoon poem -- a takeoff on the old faithful, "Desiderata..."

Deteriorata

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.
Deteriorata. Deteriorata.


Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.


Remember The Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you -
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.


You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be - hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up!

Stupid birds...

Crazy ol' CapeCodAlan mumbling by the feeders


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April 17, 2011

Unknown Nest, News, Table, etc...

Hi,

Not sure who originally made the nest below...

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Obviously, some creature took quite a bit of time in the process of construction, but Don the squirrel probably doesn't care much... (I wonder what wee beastie would dare nest so exposed? Was this originally a hawks nest?)

Moving on... A tom turkey passed by today... It was a beautiful thing, but all alone. I wonder where the hens are... hopefully taking care of poults... It's a hard world for little things.

Speaking of little things, we still haven't seen our first hummer of the season. Bummer! (But we're readying the camera!)

Well, the news isn't good this Monday morning...Over the weekend, at least 44 were killed by twisters in the South. (You can contact the American Red Cross here). And the economy isn't looking so good either -- Standard and Poor's just busted our long-term debt outlook down from a "Stable" to a "Negative". Right now, the Dow is minus 227... If, down the road, Moody reduces our credit rating from "AAA" to "AA", the economy is really cooked. (Didn't someone warn and warn yet again of the dangers of long-term debt?) Time will tell...

Finally, on a happier note, the farm table is coming along nicely. The top (showwn here with a yardstick for perspective) has been rough sanded, finish sanded, and the application of seemingly endless coats of varnish has begun. Oh goody...

resized_two boards_with yardstick_3.JPG

With boards this wide, it's clear that any attempt to permanently affix them to the table and/or each other will split them wide open... No, I have a sliding system in mind with a spring-loaded resist that will keep the top in place and let it move and contract all by itself... Stay tuned...

See you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 15, 2011

Flicker Alarm and a Farm Table Begins...

So there I am, just pounding away at my old netbook when some sort of alarm goes off... We're talking loud and very periodic -- a metallic klaxon of sorts. It seems to be coming from the TV, and I figure that Ahmadinejad has dropped the "Big One" and all of old, sandy Cape Cod is about to become glass. Not so. I killed the TV, and listened. Hey, the sound was coming from the chimney. I wish I could have gotten a pic, but here's the damage so far...

chimney_resized.JPG

Yup, after umpteen (interrupted) tries, the flicker has put in quite the dimple... Where's a hawk when you need one?

Onward...

After great discussion, Mrs. CCA has decided that she wants a rural farm dining table something like the one below...

table specs_400.jpg

This is not a huge deal for us -- I used to be a cabinet maker. But still, it does involve logistics which are not exactly my forte. Here are the two 18" boards that will be used for the top.

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Naturally, I'll have to trim them to length...

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The real trick in a table like this isn't the mortise and tenon skirts (the supports that bear the top and connect the legs) or the "H" web frame that offer rest for the feet... No, no, no... The dicey part is the top itself. We have two 60 year old wide boards, each of which wants to shrink and swell across each of their 18" widths at their own whim. And those critters will not be denied. If I try to glue, screw, and cleat those beasts together, I'll have more splits than you'll see in a gymnastics floor routine. Nope, believe it or not, the top has to be pretty much free floating. I'll use a series of wooden sliding cleats and clamps to keep the two pieces snug, and at the same time give them breathing room...

Time will tell...

As always... see you by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 12, 2011

Speaking of Orioles, and the Uniqueness of Days

Last post, I mentioned orioles, and that got me to thinking... Geez orioles... What have I got for for oriole photos? That took me to the one below...

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But it was the picture's date that really got me going... The shot was taken taken on Friday, August 29th, 2008. What happened on that day? Well...

  • Iran and Nigeria formed a deal in which Iran would "share" some of its nuclear power information. I remember that quite well... I remember thinking that that might not be the best thing for the world.
  • On that Friday (or was it the day before?) then Gov. Palin admitted that she wasn't sure about the surge in Iraq because she hadn't really "focused much on the war." I recall that too, thinking, "Oh nooo! Alaska (like every other state) has men and women in uniform..."
  • Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination... Yeah, that was a biggie.
  • August 29th, 2008 was a busy day indeed... This was when John McCain tapped Palin for his VP pick. (In retrospect, he might have looked up at an earlier bullet point.)
  • Michael Jackson turned 50. Little did he know that he had less than a year to live.
  • On that Friday, I wrote about orioles and a summer that seemed just too long... (According to FEMA, Tropical Storm Fay was going to bring showers and thunderstorms up towards Cape Cod.)
Now do you remember 8/29/2008?

I've always believed in the specialness of the moment, the time, the day, the place, the person, the event, the thing... It's as if all memories and emotions lie just below the surface. We just have to figure out how to get to them. Me? I use bird pix and the 'net...

See you by those feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 9, 2011

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds on the March

Hey! Take a look at a snapshot of our live streaming cam... H-Feeder is ready for business!

hummingbird feeder out_resized_2011-04-08_134048.jpg

Are you ready for the little buggers? While we're reliable informed that they've arrived here, we haven't actually seen any of them yet; but we're expecting them any day now, and no doubt, they'll be hungry.

Here's the proof that they're as far north as Cape Cod, and spreading fast:

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The good folks at hummingbirds.net have been mapping the northward migrations of ruby-throated hummingbirds for over a decade now, tracking the little dudes as they fly north annually each spring. As well as accumulating a great deal of scientific data, they perform an invaluable service to us birders, allowing us to anticipate the presence of our visitors and to have plenty of food waiting for them when they arrive.

Here's their favorite nectar recipe, so simple and quick to make:

  • By volume, mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts HOT water
  • Stir until sugar has completely dissolved
  • Let cool and fill feeder... Note: red dye should never be added
  • Extra sugar water may be stored in the refrigerator for up to several weeks
  • As always keep your feeders clean, and mold- and ant-free
Also, keep in mind that orioles shouldn't be far behind, at least in the New England area... Over the years, we've noticed that the arrival of the hummers presages the appearance of the Baltimore orioles by only a week or two. Grape jelly and oranges are wonderful things...

See you by those buzzing feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 6, 2011

Squirrel in Hiding and Shadow Birds

400_Hiding_IMG_2530.JPG

That there is a smart squirrel. The hawks have been out for hours, and the little guy above was apparently wearing a bulls eye.

It kind of makes one wonder (me anyways) what goes through a relatively small creature's mind when one of those overhead shadows passes by... We know squirrels can play, are bright, feel pain, feel fear... What do they think when death from above makes its ghostly presence fleetingly known? Do they simply react by instinct? Probably sometimes... But what of this dude? He must have been hiding in that old owl house for 30 minutes or so, so there was plenty of time for him to calm down and think through the situation... Was he resigned to becoming hawk scat? Was he miffed? Was he worried about friends and family? Did he (or she) have young and a parental instinct was afoot? Was he religious, agnostic, existentialist?

In situations like these, I tend to be a wimpy bleeding heart. I know the hawk(s) have to eat, and I know some of our favorite critters are going to get picked off. Still, I don't like to see it and hence avoid the windows for a while.

Wondering by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 5, 2011

Dreary Day

Hey...

Not too much to report here... It pretty much rained all day, but we did manage to get out and purchase some killer 60 year-old, bone-dry, flat 18&1/2" wide pine boards for Mrs. CCA's yet-to-be trestle dining room table. I'll keep you posted concerning the final design. (I'm thinking that it, like the hutch, it will probably be a mix of Shaker and Arts and Crafts...) However, this should be a simple, fun project... Get the wood for the table top (done), understand the structural elements (done), get the design finalized (soon to be done), and then go at it. Unlike the hutch, there will be no need for doors, glass, recalcitrant cherry wood... none of that stuff... We're just talking plain straight-up cabinetry... This should be a joy. (Famous last words...) I also need to build the Shaker tall clock, but that's another story... (And I swear, before I say my last "So long", I'm going to build the "Surf" -- a plain but extraordinary boat.)

Before this entry "goes curtains",... Here's a shot from the past -- a dollop of starlings... Yeah, I know they're a nuisance bird, but I think they're beautiful... Go figure...

400_Really excellent group of starlings_DSC_0099.JPG

See you by those boring feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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April 2, 2011

A Visit from Mrs. Red Tailed Hawk

Hello, CapeCodAlan. I'm new in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by and say hi. My husband and I just moved in over there and we're looking forward to being around for a while.

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What's that? No, no children yet, but we have high hopes for a big brood very soon.

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My, what a beautiful place you have here. Those nice woods next door, the pond across the road, and such a nice big yard with so many bird feeders! Goodness, what plump robins those are over there. Aren't they lovely?

3_hawk crouched_cropped.JPG

Well, I don't want to keep you, but it was charming chatting with you like this. Let's keep in touch, shall we? I'm sure we'll be seeing lots of each other over the coming summer. Heavens, look at the time -- I really must fly!

4_hawk flying_cropped.JPG

See you by those feeders that look suspiciously like a buffet to Mrs. Red Tail,

CapeCodAlan


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