Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nutwood Walking Tour 2009

Today was sunny and pleasant, so I headed outside to pick up sticks in the yard. I think we have a new species of tree at Nutwood: the Twig Tree. Okay, they're really just run-of-the-mill cottonwoods, but man, those babies shed twigs like Sheeba is shedding his fur right now! I noticed plenty of green things popping up and really enjoyed being outside, so after I got done with the twigs, I grabbed my camera and headed back out for a little exploring. (This entry will be heavy on pictures, so I hope it's not a problem for anyone to load. Click on any picture for a bigger view.) C'mon, everybody, let's go hiking! Are you with me? Hello? Anyone? [shrugs]

Purple Finch This was actually from the other day, but I finally got a picture of Mr. Purple, the Purple Finch! This is the little guy who wears the jaunty raspberry beret.

My stick I found a new stick today. It’s much bigger than the one I found before. I know it’s hard to see, but it’s a cottonwood branch, and all the bark has come off, leaving a really pretty bleached branch with unusual markings. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I think my stick is cool.

Blue hyacinth This is one of several blue (or is it purple?)hyacinths coming up. I love this intense bluish-purple color, and the picture definitely doesn’t do it justice.

This is the largest tree in the front, at least the largest that is still standing. It’s a monster, and I thought it looked cool and spooky in black and white.

Front foundation I know this is probably hard to see, but there’s a little bit of cement a little below the middle of this photo. We’ve been told by a neighbor that in the early 1900’s, there was a small house in front of where our house stands. This is the foundation. You can only see it this time of year, or in the fall, when there isn’t so much vegetation. I was able to brave the brambles and get in there today.

This is the tree that snapped a while back, and was then made the bitch of what is apparently a very angry woodpecker! Note all the wood chips at the base of the tree. I actually saw the woodpecker who was making the nest hole in the middle picture, and it was one of the cute little Downy woodpeckers. They may be cute, and have a Muppet-like name, but look at that hole! I wouldn’t want to meet a Downy woodpecker in a dark alley!

I started to walk through the marshy area, but could only get so far. These are wetlands, and they are still very wet! Ken maintains a path through the marsh, but there was standing water in several places. I had never really noticed how unusual the tree in the first picture is. It looks like a large tree fell, and then smaller trees started growing up out of it. I think the tree in the middle picture looks stark and kind of cool in black and white. I couldn’t go past where I took that picture because of the water on the path. The third picture is looking out across the part of our property that is the wetlands area, and is behind our back yard.

Nest in pine tree A nest in one of the small pine trees in our back yard. I’m sure it’s a new one, because it was beautifully made and well-maintained. Don’t you love it when homeowners take pride in their home? Haha!

After the marsh, I headed over to the abandoned railroad bed that provides an easy path back to the woods. The cinders are all still in place, so although it does get overgrown in the summer, it never gets impassable. You find little pieces of railroad along the way, like the piece of railroad tie in the middle photo. As you walk down the railroad bed, you pass more wetland areas on the left. The third picture shows this, and in the summer, all this water will probably be mostly gone.

Not a rock People used to drive down the railroad bed and dump trash. There’s all kind of junk back there, including mostly decayed car parts. I’ll say it again: what is wrong with people? Any idea what this is? Kind of looks like a rock with moss on it, doesn’t it? I poked it with a stick, and guess what? It was mushy. It wasn’t a rock! (A Silver Squirrel to the first person who gets that reference.) I have no idea what this might be.

Mustang You never know what sort of wildlife you’ll find on a hike at Nutwood. Look! It’s the rare Scarlet Wild Pony! There’s an old meat-packing plant next to us (when sitting around a bonfire, we used to scare the kids with stories of the haunted meat-packing plant and its ghostly cows), and they seem to be using it now for cleaning and maintaining heavy equipment. One of the guys who works there has got one sweeeeet ride!

I made my way into the woods, and it was a great time of year to do it. Things are starting to pop up, but the ground cover is minimal, so it’s easy to pick your way through the trees and not twist an ankle (I really should have put on my hiking boots instead of wearing sneakers). There was a burrow in the base of one of the trees—wonder what lives in there? Maybe it’s where the coyote lives! Or a fox. And I did remember to look for morel mushrooms, but didn’t see any. It might be a little too early for them yet, but I honestly don’t know if I could spot one even if they were growing! We speak of them here as the “elusive morel,” and of “morel hunting,” as if they are wild prey.

A few years ago, we made sure we marked the pathway to where the old bedframe is by spray painting an arrow on some of the trees. They’re still very visible, and I was able to make my way to the bedframe! Neighbor Dave tells us that there was a log cabin out there years ago, and the frame is a remnant of that. If it ain’t true, it oughta be, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it is true. The frame is quite small. When we first moved here, the tree growing up through the middle of it was maybe 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. I’d estimate it to be about 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter now. I wonder what I might find if I take my metal detector out there?

Eastern TowheeAs I headed back to the house, I saw an Eastern Towhee and his wife. Not a great picture, but I got to watch them for a little while. I might have to take another hike and take my binoculars along. I didn’t see any new birds today, but it would be nice to get a closer look at the ones I saw.

Route 66 birdhouseThis one is for Laurel. It’s a Route 66 bird house! And there’s a nest in it, too. (I suspect a wren.) We have another one that’s a Route 66 diner, also occupied.

Back home! Before too long, you’ll see me sitting outside on that deck with a good book and a cool beverage. Speaking of a cool beverage, that was a pretty good walk, and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling parched. Come on up and sit a spell!


  1. Very enjoyable walk!
    Our maple trees shed twigs like that. Eler Beth just used them in her fire pit, so it's all good!

  2. Loved the pictures of your side of the blogsphere. It's been Beautiful weather around here lately to. Our resident pair of cardinals are bright as ever. Here's to hoping the cats don't want a red meal ticket any time soon. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Looking forward to some quality time taking care of Nutwood this summer :o)

  4. Re Mailbox: Love it!!!! Did you make it? I sure enjoyed the vicarious walk in the woods. It made me miss my land back in CT.

  5. I'm TOTALLY there for cocktails!!!


  6. It wasn't a rock.... it was ROCK...... LOBSTER!!!!

  7. Oh, how I enjoyed your photos! Thanks for taking us on your walk. I enjoyed it soooo much!

  8. Beth that was a wonderful walk...Thank you. As you may or may not ! know I have an electric wheelchiar to get around outside mostly and so to be able to go round your "estate" was such a pleasure. Also seing different kind of birds etc. More please...
    Love Sybil xx

  9. Loved the pictures! I love how everything is blooming and leafing out these days. I do, however, have a couple of things to odd!
    1. If he wears the jaunty raspberry beret wouldn't he be "Prince Purple Finch" or is he still "The Finch Formerly Known As Prince Purple"?
    2.Your hyacinths are beautiful. I'm printing the picture and taking it out front to show my hyancinths what they should be doing right now. Worthless hyancinths!
    3. I wonder, and maybe this is just me, what it feels like to be a Woodpecker's bitch.

    That's all.

  10. Perhaps it was a rock lobster with all that moss!!

    A fox burrows?? That, I did not know! I was putting my money on a burrow owl, especially since you were out in the woods!

    I really enjoyed the walk. Behind the house we grew up in, there was a branch of the Rouge River (so we thought) and I would walk back among the trees and stuff. I would carry a walking stick, only I would pretend it was my MiA14 rifle, and I was tracking Japanese thru the jungles of Burma.

    I still have a 'stick'. I don't get to walk much with it ... but I have it to remind me of when I did. Picked it up at least ten years ago, and I will take it with me to Nebraska. I truly had fun walking with you!!

  11. Great photo series! That finch is very cool!

  12. Won't be too much longer Beth. I know you are further north. We are having a wonderful day down here today. Sunny (first time in days) and 78 on my weather bug. Several of us just got back inside from hanging out on the front porch talking for a rather extended break. lol As you can see I am working hard now. lol
    About time to go home and my lunch was a short one. lol Anyway I'll blow some warmth up there.

  13. you have the best land!!!!! i can't wait until sunday when i get to go for my spring hike!


  14. Oh! I want to come over for a walk with you. I'll be there Sunday K (smile) THis was cool, getting to see your area, your stomping grounds and that bird and his rasberry colors, beautiful!
    The picture is alittle wider, alittle more filled in, I like that, cause I'm nosey~ Seriously though. I enjoyed seeing your piece of the world. Thank you for sharing~

  15. WOW!!! What a great walk!! I loved it!! (And I LOVED Bob's comments... LOL!!) Nature is SO BEAUTIFUL, but all I think about are the critters... (meaning mostly spiders!) Thanks, this is the perfect way for me to hike, virtually. Take us on another hike soon, please!

  16. I enjoyed the walk from the comfort of my amchair and great pictures too thanks for sharing.

    Take care


  17. This was a great entry ~ loved the walking tour and the pics. You've got some great shots of the woodpecker - he's a beauty. There is a tree in the woods with five or six of the holes you show, it's crazy. Your place looks very warm & inviting to both critters & humans. Nice.


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